Failed tail rotor may be cause of helicopter crash

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The Independent Online
The inquest into the five men, including the vice-chairman of Chelsea football club, Matthew Harding, who died in a helicopter crash returning from a football match in Bolton was formally opened and adjourned yesterday.

All five victims, Mr Harding, 42, listed as Britain's 89th richest man, his three friends, Tony Burridge, 39, Raymond Deane, 43, John Bauldie, 47, and the pilot of the aircraft, Michael Goss, 38, died of multiple injuries.

Their bodies were found within 50 yards of each other amid the wreckage of the Eurocopter Twin Squirrel after it crashed on farmland near Middlewich, Cheshire, on Tuesday night.

Cheshire Coroner, John Hibbert, adjourned the inquests after hearing evidence of identi- fication and the causes of death. He is expected to await the findings of air accident investigation before holding the full hearing.

One theory for the cause of the crash is a failure of the helicopter's tail rotor, which gives the aircraft stability in the air, and which is less robust that the main rotor system.

Experts from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch will not have the benefit of evidence from a "black box" flight data recorder, as aircraft of the size of the Eurocopter Twin Squirrel are not compelled to carry them.

It could be some months before a full report is published and the reason for the crash known.

Meanwhile, Chelsea fans yesterday continued to pay their respects to the dead Chelsea vice- chairman.

A 100-feet makeshift memorial wall of fencing bore tributes of flowers, scarves and shirts, inscribed with messages in memory of the tycoon. Many sup- porters were in tears.

Printer Richard Lewington, 31, from Carshalton, who took the day off work, said: "We have brought tributes of flowers, scarves and shirts to pay our respects to Matthew Harding, who was Mr Chelsea, a great bloke, a true fan and one of us."

Chairman Ken Bates has announced that the north stand at Stamford Bridge - paid for by a pounds 5million contribution from the vice-chairman - would be re-named the Matthew Harding Stand.

Mr Harding, who was separated from his wife, Ruth, by whom he had four children, and was living with his new partner, Vicky Jaramillo, by whom he had a two-year-old daughter, was worth an estimated pounds 170m and was chairman of the insurers, Benfield Group.

Journalist, John Bauldie, 47, was an expert on Bob Dylan and his music and co-wrote several books on the singer. He was also founding editor of The Telegraph, a journal devoted to Dylan.

Mr Harding was also a fan of the American singer, and the two became friends through their mutual admiration of his music. That, and Mr Bauldie's lifelong support for Bolton Wanderers - the team Chelsea played on the night of the crash - led him to travelling in the helicopter with Mr Harding.

John Stokes, a Dylan fan and subscriber to The Telegraph, said Bauldie's loss was a shattering blow to Dylan fans and rock criticism.

"If the Dylan world is the Royal Family then John Bauldie was the Queen. That's how serious a loss this is," he said.

Mr Bauldie also helped edit a number of Dylan books, including All Across the Telegraph, Wanted Man - In Search of Bob Dylan and Oh No! Not Another Bob Dylan Book.

In 1991, he was nominated for a Grammy in the US for his notes on the Dylan album collection, The Bootleg Series.