Tory peer among four killed in Norfolk helicopter crash

A civilian helicopter has crashed in Norfolk, killing four people

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Tributes to millionaire peer who died in Helicopter crash

Lord Ballyedmond Credit: UTV

Tributes have been coming in to the Northern Irish Conservative peer Lord Ballyedmond who died in the helicopter crash at Gillingham last night.

Stormont Enterprise Minister Arlene Foster, said. "Without doubt, Lord Ballyedmond was one of Northern Ireland's most successful entrepreneurs.

"He was known for his leadership, integrity and global vision. One of a kind and a self made businessman, he was both highly regarded and widely respected by all those who knew him."

Investigation will start with focus on helicopter pilot

An Agusta Westland AW139 Credit: PA

The helicopter involved in last night's accident was an Agusta Westland AW139 but exactly what journey was involved is still to be determined.

What will emerge from the investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) team will be the type of flying qualification held by the pilot.

Many helicopter pilots are permitted to fly only in good-visibility conditions during the day, with others being permitted to fly at night in good conditions.

Some pilots are qualified to fly using visual-aid instruments so that they are able to take to the skies when there is cloud, or poor visibility.

David Learmount, operations and safety editor of Flight Global said:

"Helicopter flying is usually done under clear-visual conditions. Helicopters are much more difficult to fly than aeroplanes and much more difficult to fly on instruments than planes.

"You have to be particularly careful if fog is around. It's a hell of a hazard."

The AAIB will also want to know if there was any communication from the helicopter before or during the flight.

If the helicopter had taken off from a private helipad in good conditions, then the pilot would not have needed any permission to get airborne.

Mr Learmount said the Norfolk accident had echoes of the helicopter crash in south London last year when experienced pilot Pete Barnes, 50, was killed when his aircraft clipped a high-rise crane in Vauxhall.

Northern Ireland's richest man owned Gillingham Hall

Lord Ballyedmond Credit: UTV

Tributes have been paid to Northern Irish Conservative peer Lord Ballyedmond, who was one of four men killed when a helicopter crashed in thick fog in Norfolk last night.

Lord Ballyedmond, one of the richest men in Northern Ireland, was chairman of Norbrook, the largest privately owned pharmaceutical company in the world.

Gillingham Hall Credit: Mike Page

Known as Edward Haughey until he was made a life peer in 2004, he owned Gillingham Hall, a stately home near the crash site, according to the Register of Lords' Interests.

The AgustaWestland AW139 helicopter came down in thick fog in a field in Gillingham, near Beccles, at 7.30pm yesterday.

The village of Gillingham, close top where the helicopter came down Credit: Mike Page

All four helicopter crash victims were men

Police at Gillingham in Beccles where a helicopter has crashed. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

All four people killed in a helicopter crash on the Norfolk and Suffolk border last night were men, police have confirmed.

The aircraft, which was an Augusta Westland AW139 helicopter, came down in thick fog at about 7.30pm in a field off the A143 at Gillingham, near Beccles.

Just one of the victims has been named so far - Northern Irish peer Lord Ballyedmond, who owns Gillingham Hall.

He was the chairman of Norbrook, one of the largest privately owned pharmaceutical company's in the world.

Police said the crash site covered a "considerable area" and a significant cordon remains around the area.

Ch Supt Bob Scully, of Norfolk Police, said: " Limited investigations have taken place so far due to the dark, cold and foggy conditions.

"However with daylight and hopefully clearer conditions a more detailed examination of the crash site can get underway.

"At this time we do not know when the aircraft will be recovered. It is important that the public stay away from the area."


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Norfolk resident 'heard helicopter flying over his house'

A Norfolk resident has tweeted about hearing a helicopter flying over his house in thick fog tonight, while taxi driver Mark Murray, 22, from Beccles, added: "There is a large stately home nearby and you often see helicopters coming and going from there.

"When they have a game shoot the guests often all arrive in separate helicopters. We don't know if that is linked, but that's the only helicopter activity we see in this area."

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Local businessman describes 'very foggy' conditions

An eyewitness tweeted an image of the scene. Credit: Ryan Leddington

A local businessman near the area where a helicopter has crashed has described "very foggy" conditions in the area.

Roland Bronk, owner of The Swan House inn and restaurant in Beccles, said he also heard customers talk about "a lot of police activity and ambulances".

Four people are believed to have been killed in the crash.

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