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Cause of fatal plane crash is undetermined

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THE cause of a plane crash which claimed the life of a Channel Islands Air Search pilot could not be conclusively determined, according to an accident investigation report released this week.

The scene of the crash (18835965)

The Super Dimona glider, on which former RAF pilot and Guernsey resident Paul Gunnell (57) was acting as a flight instructor, was seen to be in a fast nosedive before it plunged into a barley field near Marlborough, Wiltshire, just 20 minutes after take-off on 13 July 2017.

Both Mr Gunnell and pilot and owner Gordon Davis (66), of Gloucester, were killed on impact.

The flight was not connected with Mr Gunnell's work with CIAS.

The report said Mr Davis was taking the one-hour training flight as the final step to renewing his licence.

The plane left Draycot airfield, flying south, at 6.10 pm in fine weather and 15-knot winds. Witnesses said the plane was flying at low altitude before it began a rapid vertical descent, disappearing behind trees. Just 20 minutes after the plane took off, emergency services were called and the wreckage was found in a nearby barley field, where it had sparked a considerable fire.

Investigators found that ground impact marks at the crash site suggested that an attempt to regain control of the aircraft was made, but there was insufficient height available to complete a recovery.

The damage to the plane was too extensive to determine the cause of the crash conclusively but the report said it may have resulted from a ‘power-on stall’ – an unintentional stall which can result in the plane spinning out of control.

No radio calls were made from the light aircraft before it crashed seven miles from the airfield. At the time of his death, it was reported that Mr Gunnell was on a six-month break from CIAS. He had previously flown for Cathay Pacific.

Tania Targett

By Tania Targett
Journalist

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