Glider crash was an accident, finds inquest

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Picture: Paul Jacobs (142476-269)

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AN INQUEST has found a mid-air collision which killed two people and involved a glider flown by a man from Portchester was an accident.

The crash happened when a training plane containing an RAF reservist and a teenage cadet crashed into an aircraft flown by experienced pilot Albert Freeborn in Oxfordshire.

Flight Lieutenant Mike Blee, 62, and Nicholas Rice, 15, died when their craft plummeted to the ground after the collision on June 14, 2009.

A jury at Oxford Coroner’s Court gave a verdict of accidental death with a number of contributory factors, including Flt Lt Blee’s serious spinal condition, which affected his ability to look out and left his back vulnerable to breaks.

Mr Freeborn, 29, who has more than 800 hours’ glider-flying experience, landed with just cuts and bruises in a crop field. He said: ‘I heard a very loud crashing noise and the Grob (the training plane flown by Flt Lt Blee) impacted the glider. After the initial panic and some screaming, I decided I should abandon the glider.’