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  1. ITV Report

Pilot made 'distraught SOS call' as plane went down

Nigel Dodds and Val Barnes were killed in a plane crash in West Norfolk.

A pilot has described hearing a "distraught" SOS call moments before a plane crashed in West Norfolk.

Businessman Nigel Dodds and friend Val Barnes are believed to have been flying from Newcastle-upon-Tyne to Menorca when the Piper PA-28 came down at Wolferton on the Sandringham Estate.

Mr Dodds, who was 58, was at the controls, alongside his 73-year-old passenger.

Today, Jeff Espenship, a fellow pilot who was travelling from Paris to New York, said he was listening to an emergency frequency during his flight.

"I heard this guy radioing for help. Our position was approximately 45miles south of where he went down.

"I googled to see if they made it but was very sad to read they perished.

"His voice over the radio was very distraught. I so wished I could have been there in his cockpit to help calm him and talk him through the landing."

– Jeff Espenship, commercial airline pilot.
The wreckage of the plane at Wolferton. Credit: Air Accidents Investigation Branch

Tributes have been paid to both victims, with a friend of Mr Dodds' saying he had previously run a catering equipment business with his brother.

He had also run a business called Alpha Yankee Ltd, offering flights in the 1979-built Piper plane.

British ex-pat and bar owner John Scott said Mr Dodds, who had lived in Cala En Porter in Menorca, was the "kindest man" he had ever met.

Nigel Dodds.

"He did not have a bad word to say about anyone.

"He was a very popular member of our community here in Menorca and the whole village is devastated."

– John Scott, friend of Mr Dodds.

Ms Barnes, from Whickham, Tyne and Wear, had previously worked and been a governor at Kelvin Grove Primary School, in Gateshead, Tyne and Wear.

Head teacher Andy Jones said she would be "sadly missed" and described her as having a "vibrant personality, with a real energy and passion for life".

Nigel Dodds.

"Val had played a central role in school administration and contributed to the wider life of the school: running after-school gymnastic clubs and accompanying pupils on residential visits."

– Andy Jones, colleague of Val Barnes.

Residents living in the village of Wolferton, Norfolk, described the weather being "very, very windy" at the time of the crash, but it's not known if this contributed to the accident.