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Tribute to pilot killed after plane crashes at Old Buckenham Airfield

PUBLISHED: 23:19 22 April 2015 | UPDATED: 12:24 23 April 2015

Edge plane moments before it crashed during aerobatics display at Old Buckenham Airfield, killing the pilot. Photo : Sonya Duncan

Edge plane moments before it crashed during aerobatics display at Old Buckenham Airfield, killing the pilot. Photo : Sonya Duncan

Copyright Archant Norfolk 2015

Tributes have been paid to a pilot killed following a crash involving an aerobatics plane at Old Buckenham Airfield this afternoon.

David Jenkins David Jenkins

The Wildcats Aerobatics team has tonight paid tribute to David Jenkins, an experienced pilot who has competed at national championships.

Eyewitnesses at the airfield said his Edge plane crashed during the practice display.

They said it appeared it was in a flat spin but did not come out of it.

A statement issued on the Wildcats website said: “It is with great sadness that Wildcat Aerobatics confirm the death of David Jenkins - “Wildcat 3”. David was killed during an aerobatic practice at Old Buckenham airfield on Wednesday 22 April 2015.The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has been informed.

Aftermath of the crash during aerobatics display  at Old Buckenham Airfield, killing the pilot. Photo : Sonya Duncan Aftermath of the crash during aerobatics display at Old Buckenham Airfield, killing the pilot. Photo : Sonya Duncan

“David began competition aerobatic flying in 2004 and went on to become one of the leading aerobatic pilots in UK. He gained his display authorisation in 2006. A regular at UK aerobatics competitions, he was the British Aerobatics Advanced Champion in 2012 and 2013. He also represented Great Britain as a member of the British team at both European and World Aerobatic Championships. In 2012 the team achieved 4th place, just behind the USA, France and Russia.

“David joined Wildcat Aerobatics in 2013, to bring a new dynamic to our existing two ship display by flying his Edge alongside our two Pitts Specials. We were honoured to fly alongside him.

“David was highly respected on the ground and in the air and will be greatly missed. His family and friends are very much in our thoughts, and we ask that you respect everyone’s privacy at this difficult time.”

Emergency services arrive on the scene of a plane crash at Old Buckenham. Photo: Sonya Duncan. Emergency services arrive on the scene of a plane crash at Old Buckenham. Photo: Sonya Duncan.

The plane came down about 2.45pm within around 50 metres of a group of approximately 20 people who were there for the press launch of the Old Buckenham Airshow which takes place this summer.

Emergency services were called immediately and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will take over the investigation.

EDP reporter Lauren Cope, who was at the scene, described it as being “very quiet” and added that everyone was “very emotional.”

David Jenkins. David Jenkins.

Emergency services were called immediately and the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) will take over the investigation.

A friend, who did not wish to be named, said: “He was the best bloke I knew. He was highly skilled and knew exactly what he was doing.”

Simon Garrett, a pilot who flew out of the airfield this morning, said he only found out about the news when he returned last night after being diverted elsewhere.

He said: “We were due to land back here but were diverted because of this emergency. We didn’t know anybody had died until now.

“It is a terrible tragedy and very unusual because the teams involved are highly skilled.

“I knew the gentleman involved and he was very experienced.”

Norfolk police said officers attended along with colleagues from Norfolk Fire and Rescue Service and the East of England Ambulance Service to find wreckage near to the airfield.

Fire crews from Attleborough, Long Stratton and Wymondham were called.

A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) said they were called at just after 2.40pm and sent an ambulance and ambulance officer while the East Anglian Air Ambulance also attended.

A file will be passed to the coroner.

Edge plane

The Edge aircraft is US-made and there are only four of its type in Europe.

It has a maximum speed of 240mph. The engine is a 6.4-litre four cylinder.

The wing is made from carbon fibre while the fuselage is constructed from a welded tubular steel space frame covered with aluminium panels and fabric.

This creates a very light structure with the complete aircraft weighing only 1045lbs (475kg).

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