Goodwood plane crash: Gosport and Petworth men died 'doing their absolute passion'

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Two men who died in a tragic plane crash at Goodwood last year were passionate and experienced flyers, an inquest heard.

Sixty-five-year-old Stephen Kendall, from Balls Cross near Petworth and 58-year-old Ian Wyatt from Alverstoke in Gosport both died on June 30, 2021, from serious head and chest injuries when the Rogers Sky Prince light aircraft they were flying crashed shortly after taking off.

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The Air Accident Investigation Branch ruled that the crash was most likely due to difficulties which followed a partial loss of power, the inquest was told.

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The aircraft's engine after the crash Picture via the AAIBThe aircraft's engine after the crash Picture via the AAIB
The aircraft's engine after the crash Picture via the AAIB

The inquest, held in Horsham, heard how Mr Kendall had sold the plane to his flying club, Sport Air which was based at Goodwood, and Mr Wyatt had come to meet Mr Kendall to enquire about buying the plane from the club.

Stephen’s widow, Sandra Kendall told the inquest that Mr Kendall had 30 years’ light aircraft experience and had a medical examination every year.

She said: ‘He lived for flying. On a day off from work it was normal for him to spend a day at Goodwood.’

Sally Wyatt, Mr Wyatt’s widow, said he was an ex-Royal Marine and spent time in the special forces. He had been flying since he was a 16-year-old cadet.

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She said he had been excited about his trip to Goodwood to see the plane he had hoped to buy.

Mr Wyatt, described as ‘safety conscious’ and ‘meticulous’, had sent his wife a text moments before the tragedy to say ‘all good here — we are just going up’.

At the inquest, which examined the events of the tragic day, reports from witnesses were read out to the coroner and to the families.

It included one from David Black who was working at Goodwood and who watched the plane take off. He said he heard problems coming from the plane’s engine before it fell silent.

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He said: ‘I knew at this point that there was something wrong. It was at this point that it was obvious that the plane was going to crash.’

Once the plane had crashed, Mr Black said: ‘I saw instantly the glow of flames and saw smoke rise above the trees. I was quite shaken up about what I had seen on that day.’

Another witness, Peter Ball, was sitting outside the Royal Oak pub when he saw the plane struggling and after watching it tilt to the left, it disappeared behind some trees.

The next thing Mr Ball saw was black smoke billowing from where the plane had crashed.

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AAIB senior inspectors Alison Campbell and Robert Balls investigated the crash and confirmed the plane had suffered a ‘partial power loss’ during the short flight which became more severe as the plane reached 300ft.

Ms Campbell said: ‘Having spoken to people who knew both Ian and Stephen, it is very likely that Stephen was flying. But it is not possible to be definitive.’

Coroner Penelope Schofield concluded the two men died as a result of ‘misadventure’.

Ms Schofield said: ‘It is very clear that both men died doing something that was their absolute passion. It is so tragic.’

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