Norfolk media executive dies in aircraft crash

Police have named the man who died in a Norfolk plane crash yesterday afternoon as Ian Davies, 49, of Topcroft. Married father-of-two Mr Davies was business development director for Archant, publishers of the EDP and Evening News.

Flight investigators probing a plane crash on a Norfolk airfield which left one man dead another seriously injured yesterdayremoved the wreckage of the aircraft from the site.

Ian Davies, a director of group business development for Archant, publishers of the EDP and Evening News, was killed instantly after the Christian Eagle aerobatic bi-plane he was flying in collided with a crop sprayer tractor at Seething airfield on Wednesday afternoon.

Mr Davies, 49, from Topcroft, near Bungay, was flying with the plane's owner Stephen Shutt, 51, from Hingham, when tragedy struck.

He was critically injured and remains in the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Yesterday a team from the Air Accident Investigations Branch (AAIB) was on scene studying the wreckage of the two-seater plane, before it was removed to Farnborough for a detailed examination.

Further interviews are also planned with witnesses, including tractor driver Andrew Hill who escaped injury, but is said to be deeply traumatised by the crash.

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Andrew Robinson, AAIB senior investigator, said such was the force of the collision that the plane disintegrated on impact.

Key to the inquiry is which of the two men was controlling the plane, which could be dual operated, and why the pilot appeared not the see the crop sprayer.

One suggestion is that the deep lying seats may have restricted the view of the pilot, but Mr Robinson said that the crash happened on a bright day and the position of the sun, which would have been ahead of the plane, may have been a factor.

“We will be looking at the site, trying to work out how it hit the crop sprayer machine and how it ended up where it did,” he said. “It's going to take several months before we issue a report.

“We do not know if it was coming in to land or making a pass. For some reason it collided with the sprayer, why he apparently didn't see it, is something we will be thinking about.

He said the 1980 aircraft, which was based at New Buckenham, had been previously rebuilt.

“It wasn't based here, it came here in the morning and had done a couple of sorties,” he added. “We will be trying to build up an entire picture, and we have got to look at every aspect, but we won't have any conclusions for a while.”

Mr Davies, a married father-of-two, was a very experienced light aircraft display pilot and part-owned a de Havilland Chipmunk airplane which he flew out of Seething Airfield.

A formation display pilot with the Red Sparrows team and a class rating instructor, he was qualified to teach pilots to fly light aircraft. He had 3,000 hours as a pilot and was also a qualified helicopter pilot.

Archant chief executive John Fry paid tribute to him last night.

“Everyone at Archant is extremely saddened to hear of the tragic accident involving Ian yesterday,” he said. “He was a keen amateur pilot with a real passion for all aspects of flying. His sudden death has been felt by us all.

“Ian was also a lively motivational speaker at various conferences we held both within Archant and at media industry events,” he added. “But he also added another special ingredient - a great sense of fun. It was Ian who was a key player in organising the Archant Awards that recognise some of the special talents of our staff. We hired Alexandra Palace for a party for 1500 of our staff for several years running with celebrities such as Tony Blackburn, Michael Buerk, Bjorn Again, Jon Culshaw and Simon Mayo.

“Our thoughts are with his family and in particular his wife, Colette, and children Francesca and Josh.”

A firework display due to take place at Seething airfield, tomorrow has been cancelled, organisers said last night.