Essex air crash death: Fatal accident cause 'a mystery'

Stuart Penfold Image copyright Mr Penfold's famly
Image caption Stuart Penfold rebuilt and was the pilot of the crashed aircraft

The cause of a fatal light aircraft crash remains a "mystery" but may have been due to ice in the engine, an inquest heard.

Stuart Penfold was pronounced dead at the scene at Waits Farm Airfield in Belchamp Walter, Essex, on 3 February.

He was flying a Luton Minor, which he had rebuilt, when it crashed metres from the grass landing strip.

Essex Coroner's Court was told there was not enough evidence to conclude why the plane had crashed.

Mr Penfold's death was ruled as accidental.

Image copyright AAIB
Image caption The Luton LA4A Minor crashed in a field near Waits Farm Airfield

The 55-year-old, of Halstead, died of multiple traumatic injuries, a post-mortem examination found.

His wife of 33 years, Carol Penfold, said her husband would be dearly missed as a father, grandfather and friend.

She said: "Because he loved his aeroplane so much, if he was going to die that was his perfect way to die but I don't think he meant to go too soon.

"It is a tragic accident, he was a lovely man, who would do anything for you and who had lots of friends."

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigated the crash and said it was "not definitively possible to determine" the cause.

Image copyright Stuart Penfold
Image caption Mr Penfold was flying his Luton Minor when it crashed (pictured without its wings attached)

AAIB investigator Robert Clements told coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray ice in the engine may have caused the plane to lose power and nosedive.

He said: "The investigation found the engine may have stopped due to carburettor icing and it was possible the pilot had not been able to lower the nose quickly enough."

However, investigators told the coroner there was "not enough usable evidence" to be certain of the cause, to which she said "it is a mystery".

Mrs Penfold, 57, told the court her husband had decided to go flying due to it being a clear day.

She said: "He just got up and said 'it's a lovely clear day to go flying', he was perfectly happy, I kissed him goodbye and thought nothing more about it. It is very, very sad."

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