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Mystery surrounds what led to fatal plane crash

Published date: 09 June 2014 |
Published by: Staff reporter
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THE impact of a plane crash which killed two men on board “was outside the range of human tolerance”, an inquest heard.

On the second day of a two-day inquest into the deaths of flight instructor John Green, from Caergwrle, and flying student Karl Hendrickson, from Mold, it was heard both men never stood a chance of survival.

A jury returned an open conclusion and it was also heard it may never be known what happened during the final moments before the light air craft plummeted vertically out of the sky into a field near Churton, on the outskirts of Chester, in August 2012.

In a statement read out by Alan Moore, assistant coroner for Cheshire, Wing Commander Graham Maidment, a specialist aviation pathologist who carried out both post-mortem examinations, said both men died of "severe multiple injuries".

He said the impact of the crash “was outside the range of human tolerance”. “Death would have been instantaneous,” he added.

During the inquest at Warrington Town Hall, evidence was heard from family members, witnesses, the emergency services, Flintshire Flying School, a pathologist, a forensic toxicologist and officers from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).

Addressing the jury, Mr Moore said: “So what happened in this case? Very sadly only Mr Green and Mr Hendrickson could answer that question with any degree of certainty.”

It was heard the plane descended vertically and was rotating as it plunged into the ground. That could have been the result of a failed stalling exercise, the jury heard.

Andrew Blackie, of the AAIB, said it was “very difficult” to determine the speed of the aircraft. He added: “We don’t know what manoeuvres the plane had done in the air but we do know it struck the ground during a spin.”

The light aircraft, which was more than 30-years-old, was fitted with a new engine six months before the crash and was on its sixth outing of the day the incident happened.

The plane, which had clocked up 68 hours, 55 minutes of flying time, was reported to have had a double spark plug failure just weeks before the crash – a problem rectified 30 flight hours before the incident.

Investigations carried out showed there to be “no problems with the engine” at the time of the crash – nor did either of the men on board have underlying health problems.

The inquest was told Mr Green, 50, was a “highly trained” pilot who it was estimated had more than 10,000 flying hours of experience.

Mr Hendrickson, 43, was on his eighth lesson on the day of the crash. His wife of 14 years, Laura, left the room distraught on day one of the inquest as her statement was read to the jury.  It recalled the couple, who have a 15-year-old daughter, having returned from holiday a week before he died.

Mr Moore offered his condolences to both families following the conclusion. He said: “You have been very brave in sitting through these two days of evidence and reliving these events."

For more news from across the region visit newsnorthwales.co.uk

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