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Two pilots killed in plane crash after hitting tree, inquest hears

Martin Bishop (left) and Roderick Weaver (right) were both experienced gliders Credit: Family photo

Two pilots were killed when their plane hit a tree before crashing into a field, an inquest heard today.

Martin Bishop, 61, and Roderick Weaver, 68, were pronounced dead after their plane crashed into a field at Bryngwyn Road, near Raglan, Monmouthshire.

The inquest heard the experienced pilots were doing a "practice field landing" - but hit a dead oak tree before landing upside down in a field.

Witness who lived nearby described a "stuttering" noise coming from the engine before hearing a loud crash.

Rachel Gardiner, who lives near the crash site, said: "I was in the garden and I heard an engine noise close by. I could her a stuttering engine.

"I thought it was going to crash into the house."

Another witness, George Phillips, said: "I was driving to the garden centre when I saw a white plane flying fairly low."

"I thought it was a glider as there was no noise. It appeared to be heading for a gap between two 40-foot trees."

"I remember thinking the place the pilot had chosen was completely wrong."

"I saw the wing make contact with a dead oak tree and flip over. The plane was upside down."

Emergency services rushed to the crash site but both Martin and Roderick were pronounced dead at the scene in June last year.

Pathologist Dr Stephen Leadbeatter concluded that they had both died of multiple injuries. Martin had suffered "multiple skull injuries".

Air accident investigator Nicholas Dann said: "At the final moment, just as the aircraft was about to reach the trees, it turned and the right wing hit the dead tree.

"The left wing then came up, the aircraft inverted and came to a rest upside down in the field."

Martin, from Abergavenny, and Roderick, from Cardiff, were both experienced gliders with thousands of hours of flying under their belts. Their families said they died "doing what they loved."

Both were members of nearby South Wales Gliding Club who operate from small airfield near Usk but went out in the motorised light aircraft.

The exercise is practice for when the pilot can't get the glider back to the landing strip - and has to ditch it in a field.

They fly around, identify a field and then switch off the engine off to simulate being in a glider, go through the landing procedure and then pull up.

It's done in a motorised plane so it can be repeated without having to recover a glider each time.

In a statement read to the inquest, Martin's wife Angela Bishop said: "Martin took up flying in 2006. He is very qualified and has been flying solo for the past 10 years.

"This was his love. The more he glided his love for gliding grew and grew."

The inquest in Newport continues.