Afghanistan helicopter crash inquest: Officer 'was due to retire'

The killed crew (clockwise from top left): Capt Thomas Clarke, WO2 Spencer Faulkner, Flt Lt Rakesh Chauhan, Cpl James Walters, and L/Cpl Oliver Thomas Image copyright MOD
Image caption The killed crew were (clockwise from top left): Capt Thomas Clarke, WO2 Spencer Faulkner, Flt Lt Rakesh Chauhan, Cpl James Walters and L/Cpl Oliver Thomas.

One of five British servicemen who died in a helicopter crash in Afghanistan was on his "last operation" before retirement, an inquest has heard.

Spencer Faulkner was on board the Army Air Corps Lynx which crashed 12 miles from Kandahar airbase in April 2014.

The father-of-two had been due to retire after 22 years' service, his widow said.

He died along with four other British servicemen on the helicopter, which crashed during routine training.

'A family man'

The inquest at Oxford Coroner's Court heard from Warrant Officer Faulkner's widow Cally on Monday.

She said: "This would have been his last operation. He would have retired on his 40th birthday in December [2015] after 22 years.

"He was very much a family man."

All five men on board the aircraft were killed.

A previous official report concluded the helicopter was serviceable and under the control of the crew when it was accidentally flown into the ground.

The inquest was told WO Faulkner's voice could be heard on the flight recording shouting "pull up" three times moments before the helicopter hit the ground.

It had descended 25ft (7.5m) in half a second, despite attempts to halt the descent.

Head of an independent service inquiry Group Captain Jason Appleton said a radar altimeter alarm, which warns of close proximity to the ground, could be heard on a recording of the flight.

The flight recording cut out with a "squelch" upon impact, he told the court.

A military investigation into the crash ruled out any mechanical failures or enemy action - blaming instead a series of human factors.

The crew

  • Captain Thomas Clarke, from Cowbridge in the Vale of Glamorgan, was the pilot
  • Warrant Officer Spencer Faulkner, who lived in Burghfield Common in Berkshire, was the aircraft commander
  • Corporal James Walters, from Leedstown in Cornwall, was the air crewman
  • RAF Flight Lieutenant Rakesh Chauhan, from Cropston in Leicestershire, was an intelligence specialist
  • Lance Corporal Oliver Thomas, from Brecon in Powys, was an army reservist

At the start of the proceedings, coroner Darren Salter offered his condolences to the families of those who died, adding that evidence heard over the two-week inquest would be "sensitive".

The inquest heard the men died "very rapidly" from multiple injuries and the effects of fire.

The aircraft was from a squadron based at RAF Odiham in Hampshire.

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