Two men who were killed when their light aircraft plunged nose-down into a copse over a mile from an airfield in Yorkshire died as a result of an accident, a coroner has ruled.
Pilot Richard Lewis, 76, and passenger Tony Cook, 79, two well-known members of East Yorkshire’s farming community and neighbours in Burton Pidsea, had flown to Midlem Airport, near Selkirk, last October 10.
But their journey home was delayed when Mr Lewis discovered that the engine manifold of his Reims Cessna F172N Skyhawk was loose and needed repairing.
It was already dark by the time they arrived near Beverley Airfield and Mr Lewis had no experience of night-flying.
He phoned a friend to ask him to light up the unlit airway using his car headlamps.
But an eye-witness watched the aircraft “circling and suddenly disappear, the landing lights going from the horizontal plane to vertically downwards”.
The wreckage was found in a copse at Wilfholme, just over a mile from the airfield, more than four hours later.
Both men had suffered multiple injuries.
On Tuesday coroner Professor Paul Marks accepted the findings of the Air Accidents Investigations Branch, which carried out a forensic investigation and found the plane was “airworthy, properly maintained and free from mechanical defect”.
Investigators concluded in a report published in July that it was likely that “the pilot became disorientated when in a descending turn near the final approach and allowed the nose to pitch down too steeply.”
There was enough fuel to have diverted to Humberside Airport 20 miles away but Mr Lewis had decided against, “perhaps because of unfamiliarity”.
Prof Marks described Mr Cook as a man “of great drive and energy” who was involved in numerous charitable events and fundraising, while Mr Lewis was “passionate about rugby football and meticulous in the preparation of flight plans”.