Update Essex: Two dead after plane crash near Maldon

TWO men have died after a light aircraft nosedived into a lake in an Essex village, after losing control while performing acrobatics.

The plane’s pilot and passenger ‘s bodies are still in the cockpit of the aircraft which firefighters are working to remove from the water this evening.

The aircraft crashed into a small private fishing lake at Utling near Maldon shortly before 1pm.

A spokeswoman for Essex Police has confirmed witnesses reported seeing three planes performing acrobatics shortly before the tragedy.

She said the families of those on board the Yak 52 two-seat aerobatic trainer aircraft, have yet to be informed.

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The two other aircraft returned safely to North Weald airfield, near Epping, but the crashed aircraft was not based at that airfield, according to owners of the airfield, Epping Forest District Council.

Officers have cordoned off the scene while they wait for police divers to arrive and search the lake. The aircraft is completely submerged in the water, around 10ft from the surface.

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Dawn Smith, whose house is around 100m from the lake, said: “I was having lunch with my husband in the back garden and we heard aeroplanes overhead making a lot of noise and then it went quiet.

“The next thing we heard was a police helicopter, it was a Sea King and they winched one of the guys down but they came back up with nothing.

“We do get a number of planes flying overhead, particularly in the summer. One day last week there was three of them circling around.”

Roy Hawes, 81, of Witham Road, Langford, said: “We often see planes practising aerobatics overhead, they come from the North Weald Airfield.

“We have had about three plane crashes in this area over the last 15 years.

“Everytime they come over I say to my wife one of them is going to come down before long.”

Dave Barritt, assistant divisional officer at Essex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “Fire crews have been working with colleagues from Essex Police to help try and establish what has happened here.

“A crash investigation will be carried out but we have found some debris at the side of the lake and the plane is completely submerged so it appears that the aircraft clipped the trees before ditching into the lake.”

The Air Accident Investigation Branch has been notified and will be attending the scene.

Derek Macnab, acting chief executive for Epping Forest District Council said: “There appears to have been a serious incident involving planes that took off from North Weald earlier today.

“We are still trying to put the details together but it appears that the aeroplane that crashed was not based at the airfield. Nevertheless, the crew will be well known to many people at North Weald.

“Everyone will be extremely concerned for the crew. It would not be appropriate for me to comment on the possible cause of the accident.

“A full investigation into what happened in the Maldon area will need to be undertaken by the Civil Aviation Authority.

“In the meantime, I would like to express my deepest sympathies to everyone involved in what looks to be a terrible tragedy.”

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