Shifnal aircraft crash: Microlight seen to stall and spin, inquest told

A microlight aircraft was seen to stall and enter a spin before nosediving into a field, killing two Shropshire men, an inquest heard.

Tony Crocombe, left, and Mike Sumner
Tony Crocombe, left, and Mike Sumner

Tony Crocombe and Lawrence Michael Sumner, who had both served in the RAF, died when the aircraft they were flying in crashed in a field off Shaw Lane, Shifnal. The jury inquest was opened in front of a jury at Shirehall in Shrewsbury yesterday.

Jurors last night retired to begin their deliberations.

During the inquest they were shown a video of the Rans S6 aircraft before it took off from the Longford airstrip in Market Drayton, and footage taken by Mr Sumner while it was in flight.

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Following the crash, an investigation was carried out by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).

Phillip Taylor, principal investigator with the AAIB, told the inquest the aircraft had stalled and appeared to enter a spin which it did not recover from.

The inquest heard that the aircraft’s speed had reduced before stalling, but Mr Taylor said it was not absolutely clear why.

Senior inspector Lisa Fitzsimons said the engine appeared to be operating at low or no power at the point of impact.

She said there appeared to be no mechanical reason that could “account for its departure from controlled flight”.

The inquest also heard that several members of Wrekin Microlight Flying Club had seen the aircraft in the moments leading up to the crash, near to the club’s base at Shifnal Airfield.

Flying club members raced towards the microlight when they realised it was going to hit the ground, the hearing was told.

Steven Bishop, who is a member of the club, said he thought the microlight had been attempting to land before it crashed.

He said the aircraft had “stalled” twice, causing a wing to drop, adding: “I could tell it was flying too slow.”

In a statement, another club member Stephen Ingram said he could tell the aircraft was flying “unusually slow”.

He told the inquest: “I could see it looked like it was flying quite slow.

“It then tried to do a turn which I thought was a bit dangerous at that point.”

Another member of the flying club said he had heard the engine “cut out” at one point.

Mr Crocombe, 64, of Kiln Bank Crescent, Market Drayton, and Mr Sumner, 66, of Quarry Bank Road, Market Drayton, died when the aircraft crashed just before 5pm on May 30 last year.

Both men suffered multiple injuries and were pronounced dead at the scene.

Mr Crocombe, who was born in Lancaster, was an aircraft engineer and the owner of the microlight, which he had recently bought.

Coroner John Ellery asked the jury to consider who had been flying the aircraft.

He said Mr Crocombe had been in the pilot’s seat but it was a two seater aircraft with dual control.

Summing up the evidence, he said 16 Rans S6 microlights since 1994 had been involved in accidents investigated by the AAIB.

The inquest continues.

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