Pilot in mid-air crash fought to avoid houses

A pilot involved in a mid-air collision in West Sussex yesterday was hailed for his tragic heroism by police, after managing to steer his light aircraft away from houses in the final moments before his death.

One resident of Shoreham, near Brighton, said it was a "miracle" nobody else was killed after the 63-year-old local man's aeroplane came down on the Adur recreation ground, narrowly avoiding nearby homes. Though people were in the area at the time, there were no other casualties when the incident occurred shortly before 4:30 yesterday afternoon.

The two crew of the other aircraft involved in the collision were shaken but otherwise uninjured and managed to land their Diamond DA40 safely a spokesman for Sussex Police said.

One witness, 41-year-old Rob Piatt, said he was sitting in a pub beer garden when a bang overhead led him to turn around and see two aircraft parting in mid-air.

"I saw the tailfin of one of the aircraft floating down. The poor pilot was weaving all over the place," he said. "Then the aircraft went out of sight and we were just waiting to hear the explosion. There was no way he could have got out of it. He was going down at such a steep angle and pretty quickly. He did very well to get it to the recreation ground and not crash in the airfield itself."

Mr Piatt added: "It was very near a kids' playground and it is an area that's popular with dog walkers. On a gorgeous day like today there would have been loads of people out on the recreation ground. It's a miracle no one was hurt on the ground."

Superintendent Neil Honnor, from Sussex Police, said: "It would appear that the dead pilot tried to avoid local houses and managed to crash into the open recreation ground." A team from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) attended the scene

One of the planes involved in the collision belonged to Flying Time Aviation, which provides training for pilots and is based at Shoreham Airport. A spokesman said: "We have never before had a serious incident during the history of our flight training organisation and safety is, and always has been, our main priority."

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Tradewind Recruitment: English Teacher

Negotiable: Tradewind Recruitment: My client is an excellent, large partially ...

Tradewind Recruitment: Science Teacher

£90 - £140 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: I am currently working in partnersh...

Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Primary Teacher

£100 - £150 per day: Tradewind Recruitment: Year 3 Teacher Birmingham Jan 2015...

Ashdown Group: Lead Web Developer (ASP.NET, C#) - City of London

£45000 - £50000 per annum + Excellent benefits: Ashdown Group: Lead Web Develo...

Day In a Page

Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee