Saturday, 26 Nov 2022

Two British pilots died after flying into cloudy conditions

Two British pilots died after losing control of their aircraft as it entered cloudy conditions over the Channel which neither were qualified to fly in

  • Brian Statham, 69, and Lee Rogers were flying from Warwickshire to Le Touquet 
  • They were one of seven aircrafts participating in a club ‘fly out’ on 2 April 2022 
  • The pilots got stuck in cloud and reported error before disappearing from radar
  • Extensive search carried out by authorities but neither the men nor plane found

Two British pilots were killed after losing control of their aircraft as it flew into a cloud – which neither were qualified to fly in.  

Brian Statham, 69, and friend Lee Rogers were flying in a Piper plane from Wellesbourne Mountford aerodrome in Warwickshire to Le Touquet in France on April 2 this year as part of a club ‘fly out’.

Making up one of seven aircrafts to cross the channel, the intended flight path was disrupted by a forecast of convective clouds. 

Two British pilots were killed after losing control of their aircraft as it flew into a cloud – which neither were qualified to fly in. Pictured: Brian Statham

A report said ‘waterspouts can be seen descending from the base of the cloud’.

The pilots reported to London information that they had ended up in a cloud shortly before disappearing from the radar.  

An Air Accident Investigation Branch report yesterday said: ‘As G-EGVA (the plane) approached the middle of the Channel, one of its two occupants, who were both pilots, reported to London information that they were in cloud.

‘The aircraft was operating under visual flight rules and neither of the pilots was qualified to fly in cloud. Shortly after this transmission the aircraft disappeared from radar.’

Brian Statham, 69, and friend Lee Rogers (pictured) were flying in a Piper plane from Wellesbourne Mountford aerodrome in Warwickshire to Le Touquet in France on April 2 this year as part of a club ‘fly out’

An extensive search was carried out by French and UK authorities but neither the men nor the plane were found. 

The plane had been flying at 5,000 feet for the one hour 40 minute flight but was last visible on the radar 20 miles west of Le Touquet and descending rapidly.

Some items were later found washed up on the French coast. 

Four of the aircrafts involved in the ‘fly out’ had descended during the flight to find a gap and fly around the cloud.

The pilots reported to London information that they had ended up in a cloud shortly before disappearing from the radar. Pictured: Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield

Another could not find a safe route and returned to Shoreham in Sussex.

The AAIB issued a Special Bulletin highlighting the danger of entering clouds without qualifications and experience.

The AAIB report concluded: ‘Control of the aircraft was lost when it entered a highly active cumulus cloud, which had been forecast. It is likely the aircraft was substantially damaged on impact with the sea.’

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