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Mon, Dec 17, 2007

Mid-Air Claims Two In England

Second Aircraft Lands Safely With Three Onboard

Two people were killed in a mid-air collision between two planes near the village of Admaston, Staffordshire, England Sunday afternoon.

Local media reports state a Luscombe Silvaire (file photo of type, above) and a Pacific Aerospace 750XL collided at 1,800 feet. The Luscombe impacted Blithfield Reservoir, near Rugeley, Staffordshire; the PAC turboprop (type shown below) made a forced landing, according to witnesses.

Investigators state the second aircraft had three people onboard, and managed to land safely at East Midlands Airport about 25 miles away.

The bodies of the two victims in the Luscombe were removed from the scene shortly after the accident.

The field, part of the land surrounding Rectory Farm, has been sealed off. Special aviation investigators will carry out detailed examination of the wreckage Monday morning.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is listed as the lead agency in an investigation into the accident.

"It is too early to say exactly what caused the collision," said Tim Atkinson, senior investigator. "Weather conditions were clear and visibility was fine."

Richard Chamberlain, who heard the 750XL pilot's mayday call, said the pilot did not know what he had collided with. "The pilot reported he had hit something. He didn't know what it was but said there was burning debris beneath him and he said he had lost part of his undercarriage,” Chamberlain added.

"I saw the plane come into land-- I was literally about 100-yards away and had a clear view -- It was very unnerving watching it come in," Chamberlain added. "It looked to have lost two or three wheels. You could see the pilot was shocked, but he stayed calm and it was a textbook landing."

"The plane was burning but almost burned out. I could see bodies there but I could see there was nothing I could do. I came straight back and rang 999,” said Farmer Michael Sargeant, 64, who was the first person on the crash scene in Staffordshire.

Both aircraft were privately owned, and were reportedly flight-seeing; neither was in contact with air traffic control when they collided.

"Aircraft do collide," said Atkinson. "Mid-air collisions are mercifully very rare, a great deal of general aviation is done on the principle that the pilot keeps a good look-out."

FMI: www.aaib.dft.gov.uk/home/index.cfm

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