Essex crash death pilot 'had rebuilt Luton Minor plane'

Stuart Penfold Image copyright Braintree Motorcycle Club
Image caption Stuart Penfold rebuilt and was the pilot of the crashed the aircraft

A pilot who died in a light aircraft crash had "practically rebuilt" its entire body, according to a friend.

Stuart Penfold was pronounced dead at the scene at Waits Farm Airfield in Belchamp Walter, Essex on Sunday.

Airfield owner Richard Teverson said he spoke to Mr Penfold half an hour before take-off, adding the death was the first in the airstrip's 51-year history.

Mr Penfold was flying a Luton Minor when it crashed metres from the grass landing strip.

The chief executive of the Light Aircraft Association, Steve Slater, who described himself as a close friend of Mr Penfold, said he helped him to buy his Luton Minor.

"This particular aircraft was almost rebuilt. He bought it after it had suffered an accident previously," he added.

"He practically rebuilt the entire fuselage. Like a Luton Minor I had, it had a converted VW Campervan engine. It was very simple and mechanical."

Image copyright Stuart Penfold
Image caption Stuart Penfold was flying his Luton Minor when it crashed killing him

According to Mr Slater, 50 Luton Minors have been built over the years with only about 20 currently in service.

He said: "Owners of these types of planes are a close group who all know each other and there is a very strong and close group of people who fly them in Essex and Suffolk.

"This is very, very sad to hear."

Image caption Air crash investigators were sent to the scene

Luton Minors were originally designed as basic kit planes by a company in Luton in 1938.

Their development was stopped during World War Two but afterwards the kits were finessed and sold for £25.

The original ultralight aircraft weighed about 750 pounds (340 kg) and were made of wood and Irish linen covered with an acetate dope to make it water repellent.

Essex Police is helping the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, which confirmed it had sent a team to investigate.

Image caption Police said the victim's next-of-kin had been informed

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