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Bodies of air victims taken from crash site.

Byline: By Katie Dawson

The bodies of four people killed in a mid-air crash over Warwickshire were removed from the wreckage last night.

Carried in a white private ambulance, all four Cessna 402 crew members were taken from the crash site in Brinklow to the University Hospital in Walsgrave.

Five were killed when the Cessna hit a light aircraft near Coombe Abbey Country Park just after 11.30am on Sunday.

The body of the light aircraft pilot was recovered on Sunday night.

A post mortem will be carried out today when the dead will be identified. Police expect to release the names of the victims once they have been identified by relatives.

Both aircraft came down towards the front of Coombe Abbey, an historic luxury hotel. The Cessna landed in woods while the light aircraft crashed into a cornfield a mile away.

The families of the deceased attended the scene yesterday, laying flowers at the edge of Brandon Wood, where the Cessna landed.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB), leading the investigation, is expected to release details today about its inquiry.

The British Microlight Aircraft Association said the light aircraft involved in the crash was a home-built kit plane.

The association posted a statement on its website to confirm that the light aircraft was not a microlight, as reported.

Geoff Weighell, chief executive of the BMAA, said: "I have confirmed the aircraft was not a microlight. It was a two-seat homebuilt light aircraft from the LAA (Light Aircraft Association) fleet.

"Irrespective of aircraft type I would like to offer the condolences of the BMAA membership to the families and friends of the pilots and passengers of the two aircraft."

The Light Aircraft Association confirmed the smaller plane was on its register, but said it could not release details.

Both the AAIB and police refused to comment on the type of aircraft involved.

All four on board the Cessna - three pilots and an engineer - were employees of specialist survey company Reconnaissance Ventures Ltd (RVL) and were working.

The Cessna was carrying out an aerial survey for a private company when the crash happened. Colin Dennis, managing director of the Coventry-based firm, said the plane had been taking an "entirely routine flight" and was making an approach to land at Coventry Airport when the collision happened.

He said the main pilot and the co-pilot were sat in the front of the aircraft with the third pilot, helping gather data, and the engineer in the rear.

"It's more normal to have two pilots and one operator but sometimes it's helpful to have a second person assist and quite often pilots go along to help out."

He said: "It (the aircraft) had been taking an entirely routine flight and was on a perfectly normal approach to land at Coventry. It was approximately two miles from the runway.

"We believe it had been cleared to land by Coventry Airport air traffic control when it was in collision with a smaller single engine light aircraft, also hoping to land at Coventry."

Mr Dennis said he had been in touch with the families of the victims and said they were coping "as you would expect".

He said it was still unclear which employee was flying the Cessna 402, a plane about 15 years old which had recently been refitted.

The aircraft was "better than new" after its makeover and was fitted with new equipment.

Mr Dennis said he did not want to name the victims or give their ages until their bodies had been recovered and formally identified.

Eyewitnesses have praised the pilot of the Cessna for steering the plane away from a housing estate.

Father-of-two Malcolm Collins, from Daventry, Northamptonshire, watched the mid-air tragedy unfold.

He told how the pilot managed to gain control of the twin-engined Cessna before it eventually plunged into trees.

He said: "The pilot did absolutely brilliantly to recover it. When it first happened it looked like the plane would go straight down but the pilot recovered it and seemed to be in control of it.

"Then it tipped and came down suddenly."

CAPTION(S):

Some of the wreckage of the light aircraft which came down in a field near Coventry. Inset: the scene in nearby woodland where the Cessna 402 came down, killing four
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Publication:The Birmingham Post (England)
Date:Aug 19, 2008
Words:713
Previous Article:Labour Party conference; POLITICS.
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