Gloucestershire

Bad weather killed charity microlight pilot

Martin Bromage
Image caption Mr Bromage planned to cross 16 countries on the mission

A microlight pilot who died on a solo flight for charity probably lost control after encountering poor weather conditions, a report has said.

Martin Bromage, 49, set off for Australia from Gloucestershire Airport on 18 January.

However, contact was lost while he was over the English Channel.

The father-of-two's body was recovered later that day, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said.

"None of the aircraft or its equipment was found," the report stated.

"With no aircraft wreckage to examine, the cause of the accident could not be positively determined."

Mr Bromage, from Gloucestershire, had hoped to complete the 11,000-mile (17,702 km) trip to Sydney in six weeks and raise £150,000 for Help for Heroes.

The document said Mr Bromage, who planned to cross 16 countries on the mission, had started flying helicopters in 1998.

He had previous experience of long journeys by microlight, it added.

The document said Mr Bromage had encountered deteriorating conditions over the Channel "and was seen on radar to be manoeuvring in a manner consistent with attempts to avoid the worst of the weather".

The report added: "The available evidence regarding the nature of the impact indicates that the aircraft struck the sea with considerable force, consistent with the loss of control at altitude.

"The pilot gave no indication of any fault with the aircraft and although a technical failure could not be ruled out, it was considered likely that the pilot lost control of the aircraft after encountering poor weather conditions."

'Knew of dangers'

It said Mr Bromage was not wearing an immersion suit for the Channel crossing, although he was known to have been carrying one.

"Given the time of year and weather conditions, if he had been [wearing an immersion suit], his potential survival time following a ditching would have been significantly increased," the report added.

Before setting off, Mr Bromage said he knew of the dangers of sea crossings.

He said: "Normally private pilots of any general aviation aircraft in this country think long and hard about a 20-mile (32km) flight across the Channel, so a 300-mile (483km) crossing in any aircraft is a great undertaking.

"To equip myself for the worst possible scenario I have a life raft, I have satellite positioning equipment, a distress beacon and a radio. My friends and family are very, very supportive, but they think I am criminally insane."

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