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Tributes to pilot killed in light aircraft crash near Royal Birkdale Golf Club

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A pilot killed in a light aircraft crash near Royal Birkdale Golf Club earlier this month has been described by his family as a 'free spirit with a daredevil streak who died doing what he loved'.

Andy Walkden, 54, died when when his aircraft crashed near the coastal road in Southport, Merseyside, on April 11.

His daughter, Kayleigh Worthington, paid tribute to her thrill-seeking dad, who she said brought joy to many people through his love of flying.

Kayleigh said:

“He was a very positive person, a free spirit who enjoyed life. I’m going to miss him."

– Kayleigh Worthington
Kayleigh Worthington described her late father as a 'daredevil'

As an experienced pilot with 15 years' experience Mr Walkden was completely at home in the sky - and the sport appealed to his adventurous personality, Kayleigh said.

Kayleigh said: “It’s definitely a scary sport, that’s probably why he liked the flying, he was in the sky, like a bird. He would go out every day if it was nice.”

Since the crash Kayleigh was sent a picture of her dad flying and silhouetted by the sunset minutes, perhaps even seconds before the horrific accident

In the picture, time stamped at 6.59pm, Andy, from Southport, appears to be completely fine with no signs of any problems - but just moments later the first reports of a crash came in.

Kayleigh said: “Someone came to me and sent me a picture of him at 6.59pm, the reports said at 7pm it was reported.

Andy Walkden, photographed on the day of the crash

"This picture may be seconds or minutes before it happened. It all looks perfectly fine, it’s nice to seem he’s going into the sunset, that’s quite comforting."

– Kayleigh Worthington

The family are still waiting on DNA tests to formally identify Andy due to the severity of the crash.

Kayleigh said: “They [police] still don’t know, it’s only knowing he did that [flying] and he didn’t come back that day.

"We kept ringing his phone, and it was ringing but we don’t know where his phone was.”

Kayleigh says her dad was a “daredevil” and a “thrilseeker” - as shown by his passion for adrenaline-pumping sports.

When he wasn’t flying, the grandad of four also did motorcross, rode road bikes and super bikes, cycled and recently took up ice hockey - but his passion was always flying paramotors.