Oxford

Aston Rowant aircraft crash: Pilot 'turned wrong way', inquest hears

Nature reserve accident
Image caption David Norris crashed near Aston Rowant Nature Reserve in January 2017

A pilot who died in a light aircraft crash turned in the wrong direction as he was coming in to land, an inquest has heard.

David Norris, 64, from Milton Keynes, crashed near Aston Rowant Nature Reserve, Oxfordshire, in January 2017.

The inquest, held before a jury at Oxford Coroner's Court, heard Mr Norris was coming in to land at Chalgrove Airfield in poor conditions.

The jury returned a unanimous verdict of accidental death.

Investigators suggested the experienced pilot may not have known his location.

Geraint Herbert, from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, told the jury that Mr Norris was flying the Piper PA-30 Twin Comanche at 1,000ft and was in a "good position to turn right, and then turn right [again] for a final approach to land".

He said: "Instead he turned left, away from his destination and towards higher ground, which doesn't seem sensible.

"The fact that he turned away from his destination and good weather.... probably means he was in cloud at that point... and probably uncertain of where he was."

Image caption Investigators suggested the experienced pilot may not have known his location

Family members told the court of Mr Norris's flying expertise and dedication to safety.

His wife, Sylvia Norris, called him "brilliant, and a natural [who] did not leave anything to chance" and "would not compromise".

Holding up a framed photograph of her husband in court as she spoke, an emotional Mrs Norris said he had cancelled his flight several times because of bad weather.

"My problem with the whole accident is why did he turn left instead of right?" she asked, and she wondered if he may have had cramp in his wrist at the time.

The court heard how Mr Norris was on his way to pick up two passengers at the airfield.

He opted to pilot the aircraft using visual flying rules, as opposed to using the instrumentation onboard, but the weather worsened and visibility became reduced during the flight.

A post mortem examination found he had multiple injuries, but the cause of death was severe head trauma.

The aircraft he was piloting collided with trees, with the force of the impact ripping the wings from its body and separating the engine.

Last October an AAIB investigation said the crash was "not considered to be survivable", and that Mr Norris had been flying below the safe altitude level in fog.

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