1. ITV Report

Family pay tribute to aircraft crash victim

Two dead after plane crash lands in field after "aerobatics". Photo: Essex Fire and Rescue

Tributes have been paid to an aircraft enthusiast who was killed along with another man when the plane they were flying in crashed into a field.

Simon Chamberlain, a 29-year-old father of one from Harlow, died together with the Yak 52 plane's pilot when they got into difficulties at around 2.55pm on Saturday after flying out of North Weald airfield in Essex.

Witnesses described how the training aircraft had been attempting a somersault before going down and bursting into flames in a rural area between Ongar and Writtle, near Chelmsford.

Mr Chamberlain's family said last night in a statement: "Yesterday there was a light aircraft crash near Writtle in Essex. Simon Chamberlain, who was 29, was the passenger in that plane. He would have been 30 in May.

"Lizzie, his wife, has lost her best friend and soul mate. His son, Charlie, who will be two years old in August, has lost his father. And his parents, Paul and Steph, have lost a loving son. We love him more than anything the world.

"Our hearts also go out to the other person involved in this tragedy.

"We know that you will respect the fact that we now need time to grieve and give us the space to heal."

Mr Chamberlain's family said he was an aircraft enthusiast who served as secretary and trustee of the North Weald Airfield Museum, both voluntary roles.

He did everything at North Weald airfield from general maintenance to refuelling helicopters and moving planes around and was also a keen amateur aircraft photographer.

Police have said they are not in a position to identify the pilot, but confirmed that he was also from Essex and his next of kin have been informed. A coroner from the county is expected to name him today at the opening of an inquest into the men's deaths.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is investigating Saturday's accident, which left the aircraft "completely alight".

A witness spoke of how he and two young Army cadets ran to the scene of the fatal crash to try and help the victims but were held back by the severity of the fire.

The Yakovlev Yak 52 is a two-seater propeller aircraft first built in the Soviet Union in the 1970s which is popular for aerobatic flying

It has been involved in two more fatal accidents in the UK in recent years.

A similar Yak aircraft crashed near Chelmsford in April 2011 killing a student and an instructor. Credit: ITV News Anglia

In April 2011, two people were killed when a Yak 52 aircraft from North Weald crashed.

Instructor Simon Hulme, 33, and his 43-year-old student, Spencer Bennett, died when their plane went down near Langford, east of Chelmsford.

An inquest in Chelmsford in 2012 heard they were on the last day of a three-day formation flying school when the aircraft spun and plummeted from 1,800ft into a lake.

And in January 2003, Falklands veteran Anthony Hunt, 48, died along with his brother Ian, 45, when their aircraft crashed in a field on the Easton Neston estate, near Towcester, Northamptonshire, while practising aerobatic manoeuvres.

His family was awarded £270,000 damages by the High Court in 2006 after an investigation found that during maintenance a short screwdriver had become wedged into the wires that operated the rear elevators of the plane.

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