Cirencester pilot's nose-dive death "accidental"

First published in Cotswolds news

AN EXPERIENCED RAF pilot from Cirencester died as a result of an accident after the aerobatic aircraft he was in nose-dived into a lake, an inquest jury has recorded.

RAF Flt Lt Simon Hulme, 33, of Station Road in Cirencester, was instructing 44-year-old student Spencer Bennett, from Amsterdam, in Essex in April last year when the Yak52 aerobatic plane crashed, killing them both.

The inquest at Chelmsford Coroner’s Court was told that the Yak52, which was owned by Mr Bennett, was attempting to pull out of an inverted spin with limited altitude when it crashed at 45 degrees into a private fishing lake near Langdon, Maldon.

The aircraft, which took off from North Weald Airfield, was the second of a three-plane tailchase formation. As the aircraft lost control, its final moments were captured on video from the helmet camera of a watching crewman from the third aircraft.

Mark Jarvis, of Air Accident Investigation Branch, said the aircraft had reached 100-Gforce when it hit the water and that “the impact was not survivable."

Both men died from head and chest injuries. The submerged aircraft was later recovered from the lake by diving teams with both its wings broken off.

At the hearing, which was attended by Flt Lt Hulme’s parents and girlfriend, AAIB senior inspector Tim Atkinson said Mr Bennett was in the forward cockpit with Flt Lt Hulme behind, but it could not be established who was controlling the aircraft. He added that there was no malfunction or defect with the Yak.

Flt Lt Hulme had been in the RAF for 12 years and was stationed at RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire. He was an experienced pilot used to flying large military aircraft and was a volunteer instructor at the North Weald formation school.

Mr Bennett, whose family are from West Yorkshire, gained a private pilot's licence in 1999. His first experience of aerobatics training was in 2008 and he had only flown the Yak twice before the crash.

The coroner was told that the North Weald flying school had put different measures in place since the accident.

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