Crash that killed the founder of Mid Wales airport ruled an accident

The BBC has just reported that a jury has found that the twin-engine Piper crash which killed Mid Wales airport founder Bob Jones along with Steven Carr on Long Mountain (near Welshpool, Powys) back in January was an accident. Specifically, the accident investigator gave two possible causes for the crash: The aircraft could have dropped into cloud which obscured trees or part of the controls had jammed but the later possibility was deemed to be a rare occurrence.

According to the accident investigation, Mr. Carr, a former airline pilot, had gone to the airport to gain more experience in the twin engine Piper plane because he had a freelance flying job. And while Mr.  Carr had 11,000 hours of flying experience and had flown a Piper before, he had not flown one for some time. As for Mr Jones, he had 17,500 hours of flying experience that included 2,177 hours in the Piper plus he knew the area very well. However and just before take off, a webcam revealed murky conditions but apparently these conditions had brightened right before the pair took off

What happened next according senior air accident investigator Paul Hannant was that eleven or so minutes into the flight, the aircraft struck trees and a wing tip came off before it  then struck the ground with the right wing tip. It was noted though that the circuits of the airport the pair chose to fly were slightly wider than usual but that could have been due to a helicopter in the area or to allow Mr. Carr to have more practice.

The subsequent accident investigation found that both engines were working properly and the aircraft had been serviced in the previous October while the engines had been overhauled in the previous August. Moreover, it was noted that jamming of an elevator control is a “very, very rare occurrence.” Hence, the most likely cause of the accident was an inadvertent descent into trees.

Both the families of Mr. Jones  and Mr. Carr have stated they accept the coroner’s findings but there are a few lessons from the accident, namely that it does not matter how experienced you are nor how familiar you are with the local area as accidents can still happen – especially if the weather suddenly changes for the worst.

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