THE wreckage of a helicopter which crashed into the sea at Flamborough Head leaving a pilot and his passenger dead has been hauled up cliffs so it can be examined by investigators.
The aircraft crashed into the North Sea next to the 250ft high cliffs in East Yorkshire on Tuesday, killing pilot Brian Bridgman, 58, of Canterbury, Kent, and his passenger, John Kent, 50, of Romford, Essex.
The helicopter had taken off from an airfield near Edinburgh and was due to refuel at Humberside Airport before continuing to its destination near Retford, Nottinghamshire.
A major investigation began on Tuesday led by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), supported by Humberside Police, but the operation has been hampered by fog and the inaccessible location of the crash site.
Today, parts of the fuselage were pulled up to the cliff top using a lorry-based crane and put on the back of a flat-bed truck.
The helicopter involved in the crash was owned by a Hampshire-based company and was hangared, operated and maintained by Kent-based Heli Charter Ltd.
A spokesman for Heli Charter, based at Manston, said the aircraft was an Agusta/Bell 206 helicopter, registration G-SUEX.
Experienced pilot Mr Bridgman, who sold his engineering firm four years ago to pursue his love for flying full-time, was the father of two grown-up children, Katie, 31, and 29-year-old Tim.
Paying tribute yesterday, Tim said: “My sister and I could not be more proud of our father. He was a fantastic dad and a brilliant pilot.”
Video footage released by the RNLI showed a lifeboat crew battling high seas in an attempt to reach the crash site.
The crew from Flamborough RNLI and a second boat from Bridlington were told to abandon the rescue mission and instead search the bay for wreckage.
Eyewitness Chris Palmer, 33, a builder from Dunswell, East Yorkshire, spoke of his horror at witnessing the crash.
He said he heard a big crack and saw the helicopter start to descend like a plane, then disappear below the cliffs.