Pilot was one of few to have windsurfed across the Atlantic

The Pilot

The pilot of the Concorde that crashed on Tuesday was an accomplished sportsman and one of the first people ever to windsurf across the Atlantic

The pilot of the Concorde that crashed on Tuesday was an accomplished sportsman and one of the first people ever to windsurf across the Atlantic

Christian Marty, 54, among the most experienced of Air France's pilots, and a pilot trainer, had insisted on the replacement of a non-vital part in his number two engine before taking off.

Although the cause of the accident has not yet been established, investigations are focusing on the possibility that the repair work might have caused another fault which led to the fire.

Colleagues at Air France said yesterday that this attention to detail was typical of Mr Marty, who joined Air France in 1968. Married, with two children, he was described as much loved among French pilots, with an "exemplary degree of kindness" and thoughtfulness towards his juniors.

Mr Marty took 37 days to windsurf across the Atlantic in February 1982, becoming the first Frenchman, and among the first few from any nation, to complete the journey unaided. Earlier he had been the first person to reach Corsica from mainland France by windsurfer. He was also a rally driver, cross-country cyclist, skier and hang-glider.

"Christian Marty was a great sportsman, very sharp mentally and physically - he was at the highest level," said his friend and fellow pilot, Eric Derivry. "During stopovers, he would take his bike with him and then we would see him leaving to climb mountains," he said.

Born in Paris in 1945, Mr Marty had graduated through the different kinds of aircraft flown by Air France to join the Concorde roster last year.

The co-pilot, Jean Marcot, had 12 years' experience in the supersonic aircraft. He was eligible to become a captain on other types of aircraft but chose to stay with the élite Concorde team.

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