Pilot Kevin Whyman killed in CarFest crash in Cheshire

Kevin Whyman Image copyright Other
Image caption Kevin Whyman was trained by the Royal Air Force, his display team said

The pilot of a display team aeroplane has been killed in a crash at the CarFest motoring event in Cheshire.

Kevin Whyman, 39, was flying a Folland Gnat aircraft that came down near the event at Oulton Park at about 14:00 BST.

BBC presenter Chris Evans, CarFest's founder, confirmed his death and said the pilot's family had been informed.

A visibly upset Mr Evans delivered a statement saying the display pilot had been killed in a "tragic accident".

The Heritage Aircraft Trust, operator of the Gnat Display Team, said in a statement: "Kevin was a Royal Air Force-trained fast jet pilot whose enthusiasm for flying the Folland Gnat was infectious.

"He will be greatly missed by his family, the team and many friends.

"Kevin leaves a wife and young daughter."

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Media captionFootage shows last few moments before the plane came down

Mr Whyman, who was born in Chester, is a Cambridge University economics graduate.

He trained with the university's boat club and coxed Cambridge to victory in the 1996 and 1997 boat races against Oxford.

He had a career with the RAF from 1998 to 2001, when he left for a trading job with a US investment bank in the City of London.

He completed his civilian flying licences so that he could continue with his passion for flying.

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Media captionChris Evans said the plane crash was "a tragic accident"

BBC producer Justin Bones, on the scene at Oulton Park, said two planes performed a low-level, close-proximity pass just before the crash.

One of the aircraft failed to pull up and crashed north of the circuit, he said.

Mr Evans said: "The event will continue on the advice of the three aviation authorities we are currently involved with, as part of the ongoing investigation to what happened.

"And the police have also advised us that the best thing, and the safest thing to do, is to carry on with the event, bearing in mind there are 10,000 children here, and that's what we are going to do."

Cheshire Police say they are working to establish how the accident happened.

Image copyright @Daniel_Finlay
Image caption Daniel Finlay captured this image of one of the two Gnat planes as it prepared for take-off

Eyewitnesses described horrified spectators screaming as the plane nosedived suddenly.

Witness Steve Gluning, who works with aircraft, said: "It's an airshow and it's dangerous. You know these things can happen but when they happen in front of you it's shocking.

"We were at the CarFest, my partner and I. Two Gnats came in. Five or six minutes doing individual and pair displays. They did a crossover. One went north and the other, I saw it jink. It went past the trees. Two or three seconds later there was a fireball.

"Instantly, you know that could be fatal."

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Media captionEyewitness Michaela Howard: 'My son said 'Mummy, that plane just crashed''

Tessa Angel was watching the display with her husband.

"We saw two planes flying, weaving side by side. One was at a strange angle. My husband said: 'That's low. I hope he comes back up.' Then it went down," she said.

"People were staring, asking what happened. I didn't see any parachute. There were sirens within seconds, then a helicopter hovering."

Aviation expert Julian Bray said the type of Gnat plane involved in the crash had been around since 1955.

Peter Collins, a test pilot and former RAF pilot based in Cheshire, is familiar with the aircraft.

He told the BBC: "I flew it during training. I rate it as one of the best aeroplanes I've ever flown.

"It was designed as a fighter that was later turned into a trainer."

Footage request

CarFest's organisers said in a statement: "Our thoughts are with the family of the pilot and all those affected at this time.

"We have helpfully received images and footage captured by those close to the site, which will aid with the police investigation.

"Should anyone else have similar photo or video footage, they are asked to keep hold of it in case the authorities request further information."

Image copyright Steve Gl√ľning
Image caption Eyewitnesses described seeing a plane nosedive suddenly

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) spokesman said: "AAIB will be investigating and is sending a team to the site."

Mr Evans, a car enthusiast who has just become the new presenter of BBC Top Gear, created the motoring and music festival, which raises money for BBC Children in Need.

Other celebrities attending CarFest included TV chefs James Martin, Tom Kerridge and Paul Hollywood.

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