Air accident investigators are attempting to find out why two small aircraft collided in mid-air near a West Sussex airport. The incident resulted in the death of former British Airways captain Alan Weal after his Vans RV6 smashed into a Diamond DA40 and plunged into the ground near Shoreham Airport.
Incredibly, the pilots of the two-seater DA40 both survived the collision without injury and were able to land safely at the airport. Gareth Abbott, a student pilot who was being debriefed at the time, described how the RV6 hit the Diamond, taking out its engine causing damage to the aircraft’s left-hand side. He added that it was a miracle that both pilots were able to walk away from the incident.
Abbot described how the other aircraft went out of control before going down. Sandra O’Kane watched the incident from her houseboat. She described how the Vans plane appeared to steer away from an area of housing and a motorway towards open ground after the impact. She added that the tail part of the aircraft fell away and she could see smaller pieces of plane falling onto a playground.
The plane then went into a nosedive and crashed behind some trees in a fireball. An air ambulance team, paramedics and firefighters attended the crash scene and the site was cordoned off by Sussex Police.
According to Superintendant Neil Honnor, the deceased pilot appeared to have fought with his plane to get it away from a local residential area and crash it on open ground.