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Air instructor dies in crash

Plane plummets to ground after engines fail

VILLAGERS in Hook are in mourning after a resident was killed in a plane crash.

Flying instructor Michael Chrystall died when an aerobatic light plane he was travelling in crashed into a field in Oxfordshire.

Both Mr Chrystall and Scottish trainee pilot Alan Kent died instantly as their aircraft plummeted to the ground after the engine cut out.

They had been flying from Kidlington Airport in Oxfordshire and the skill of the pilot meant that the plane avoided landing on a farmhouse by just 200 yards.

Mr Chrystall, of Band Hall Place, Hook, and pupil Mr Kent, of Hamblin Meadow, Edding-ton, near Hungerford, were killed in the crash on Sunday at Drayton, near Banbury.

The pair had just taken off from Kidlington airfield a few minutes before the crash near Stratford Road, in nearby Drayton on Sunday.

An eyewitness walking in the woods reported smoke pouring from the fuselage as the plane spiralled into the field next to the A422 Stratford Road, missing the dual carriageway and the farmhouse by yards.

Police said that the doomed plane was a Sligsby, a specially-made light aircraft suitable for stunt flying and acrobatics.

Experts from the Air Accident Investigation Bureau removed the wreckage of the stricken plane to a warehouse where they will eventually piece together the last few minutes of its flight.

Mr Chrystall's neighbour, Jean Dockreill, said he was a well-liked man who kept himself to himself but was always friendly and happy.

She said: "He was hardly ever at home but we knew he was into planes and flying. I guess he was quite fanatical about it.

"I don't know when he first started giving lessons but I guess it must have been a while ago.

"Whenever I would see him pull out of his drive, he always had a smile on his face and would always say hello to me."

On Wednesday the inquest into the pair's death was opened and adjourned at Oxford Coroners Court.

Alison Hunt, coroner's officer for Banbury, Oxon said: "Mr Kent was a pupil learning to fly as an instructor and another man, Mr Chrystall, was the instructor for that.

"While they were flying near Banbury the plane appeared to spiral out of the air and into the ground, crashing in a field where they both died.

"We identified Mr Kent from his dental records, which were identified by Wing Commander Rhodes from RAF Halton.

"I spoke to the owner of the flying club at Kidlington airfield, Thomas Eagles, and he said he saw them both prior to their flight at a briefing and then again prior to take off."

Oxfordshire deputy coroner, Dorothy Flood, said: "A 999 call was recorded just before 2pm by a member of the public who dialled in as she watched the plane hit the ground.

"I am adjourning the inquest until further inquiries have been carried out."

The bodies have been released to the victims' families so that their funerals could be held.


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