One of the darkest events in the history of north-east Hampshire took place a year ago on Sunday (July 31).

Three members of Osama Bin Laden’s family were killed when their light aircraft crashed at Blackbushe Airport, along with their pilot.

The Saudi-registered jet, which had travelled from an airport in Milan, smashed into neighbouring British Car Auctions (BCA) just after 2pm and burst into flames after colliding with more than a dozen parked vehicles.

Bin Laden’s stepmother, 75-year-old Rajaa Hashim, and his half-sister, Sana, 53, were on board.

His 56-year-old brother-in-law, Sana’s husband Zuhair Hashim, was also killed in the intense flames, along with the Jordanian pilot, Mazen Salim Alqasim, 58.

Six days after the crash, the Farnborough-based Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) issued an initial report into the tragedy.

It said the aircraft, an Embraer EMB-505 Phenom 300, registration HZ-IBN, overtook a microlight aircraft before climbing slightly to pass it.

Following the climb, the plane descended at up to 3,000 feet per minute towards the runway.

The Bin Laden's jet on its approach to Blackbushe

The aircraft’s traffic collision avoidance system (TCAS) indicated the aircraft was "clear of conflict" and it continued its approach.

However, the aircraft’s terrain awareness and warning system (TAWS) indicated six "pull up" warnings on the final approach to the airport’s 1,059m-long runway.

Tyre marks indicated the jet landed approximately 710m along the runway, leaving just 349m to come to a halt, whereby it careered into the neighbouring BCA site and burst into flames.

The report states: “It then collided with a one-metre high earth bank, causing the lower section of the nose landing gear and the nose gear doors to detach.

Smoke and flames at British Car Auctions/Blackbushe Airport plane crash
The plane burst into flames

“The aircraft became airborne again briefly, before colliding with several cars parked at an adjacent business and coming to rest approximately 70 metres beyond the earth bank.

“The aircraft’s wing detached from the fuselage during the impact sequence and an intense fire developed shortly thereafter, consuming the majority of the aircraft.”

Eyewitnesses reported seeing a huge plume of black smoke rising hundreds of feet in the air from the airport.

Fireball

Shocked Lisa McKenner and her partner Martin King were sitting in a vehicle at the BCA site, two rows of cars away from the spot where the aircraft plummeted to the ground.

The pair, who live in Shepperton, had visited the auction site to pick up a car.

But the vehicle bought by Mr King had got stuck in gear so needed to be towed out by a recovery truck.

A huge plume of black smoke could be seen from miles around

Miss McKenner, 27, said: “We were in the car and heard a hell of a lot of noise and we were looking up in the sky for an aeroplane, as you hear them all the time at the site.

“But the noise was really loud and didn’t sound right. All of the cars near us started banging and crashing around. Suddenly there was a great big plane next to us.

“We had a couple of seconds to look and get ourselves together. The guy towing us jumped out and started running. Martin said ‘we have to get out’.

“I tried my door but couldn’t get it open, I don’t know if there was something blocking it or if I was just panicking.”

Dozens of cars were destroyed at the Blackbushe Car Auctions site

Mr King managed to pull Miss McKenner out of the car’s passenger door and the couple began running away from the devastation.

“It just looked like something out of a film,” she added. “We ran and when we stopped we turned back to look. There was a big ball of flames and as we were running away we could feel the heat behind us.”

After checking the tow truck driver was safe, Miss McKenner and Mr King left the scene still in shock.

She added: “We are lucky to be alive. People keep saying how lucky we are.”

Inquest

An inquest into the deaths was opened on August 4 last year and has since been adjourned six times.

North East Hampshire Coroner Andrew Bradley will review it again on August 23.

Mr Bradley said he had no indication of when he expected to receive an Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report into the crash.

“When it is coming up for publication the AAIB give me a timescale and I have not got that yet,” he added.

A spokesman for the AAIB said: “This report is currently at consultation stage, which lasts 28 days. It will therefore likely be two to three months before it is published.”