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AAIB fatal plane crash investigation finds Stratford pilot Lee Rogers and Brian Statham flew into cloud without correct qualifications

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has published a special bulletin concerning the loss of Piper Cherokee Arrow II (G-EGVA) which saw two much-loved family men lose their lives.

Lee Rogers and Brian Statham were in one of seven aircraft flying from Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield to Le Tourquet in France on the morning of Saturday, 2nd April when the plane lost contact before crashing into the English Channel.

The initial AAIB report has found that G-EGVA crashed after flying into cloud which neither pilot on board held the right qualifications to fly in.

Brian Statham. left, and Lee Rogers (56094495)
Brian Statham. left, and Lee Rogers (56094495)

The bulletin published today (Friday, 13th May) said: “A line of highly convective cloud was forecast on the intended route in the English Channel. As they approached the middle of the Channel, one of the pilots of G-EGVA, which was operating under Visual Flight Rules (VFR), reported to London Information that they were in cloud. Neither of the pilots onboard was qualified to fly in cloud. Shortly after this transmission the aircraft disappeared from radar.

“An extensive search of the area was coordinated by the UK and French Aeronautical Rescue Coordination Centres but neither the aircraft nor its occupants were found. The available evidence, at the time of issue of this report, suggests that control of the aircraft was lost when it entered cloud.”

Crispin Orr, Chief Inspector of Air Accidents said: “This was a tragic accident and our thoughts are with the loved ones of the missing pilots at this time.

“The accident highlights how hazardous it is to fly into cloud when not suitably qualified or when not in current practice in instrument flying. Sadly, the AAIB has investigated numerous accidents when control of an aircraft was lost in these circumstances. Pilots are reminded of the importance of pre-flight weather decision making and always having contingency plans just in case the weather proves to be worse than expected.”

The Investigation continues to examine operational, technical, and human factors which might have contributed to this accident, with a final report promised in due course.

See next Thursday’s Herald for more on this story.

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