Norfolk

Pilot David Jenkins crash death 'may have been linked to heart problem'

David Jenkins Image copyright Wildcat Aerobatics
Image caption Pilot David Jenkins, who died in the crash, was an aerobatic champion

A world-renowned aerobatics pilot with an undiagnosed heart condition was judged fit to fly hours before he died in a plane crash, an inquest has heard.

David Jenkins, 61, of Stanton, near Bury St Edmunds, died when his Edge 360 plane crashed at Old Buckenham airfield, in Norfolk, on 22 April 2015.

Post-mortem tests found the condition could have made him lose control at a "critical stage of the flight".

An inquest jury concluded his death was accidental.

Mr Jenkins was flying the plane as part of a press day for an airshow when the accident happened.

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Earlier this month an Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report said Mr Jenkins was "flying a series of aerobatic manoeuvres" when he failed to recover correctly from a "tumbling manoeuvre and inadvertently entered a spin".

Image copyright Mustard TV
Image caption The plane crashed during a press day for an airshow

There was no mechanical fault with the plane but investigators concluded his undetected heart condition may have made him lose control of the plane at a "critical stage of the flight".

'Amongst the best'

Norwich Coroner's Court heard Mr Jenkins had been invited to fly as a passenger in a Tornado bomber at RAF Marham on the morning of his death.

In order to take part he had undergone a routine medical examination and was passed as fit.

However, the AAIB report said unless Mr Jenkins had been displaying physical symptoms at the time of the test, his condition could not have been picked up.

Image copyright Geograph/Adrian S Pye
Image caption The plane was operating from Old Buckenham Airfield in Norfolk

The inquest jury returned a verdict of accidental death contributed to by a natural disease.

During the hearing the pilot was described as "amongst the best in the world and a name known across the globe".

Oxford-educated Mr Jenkins had been flying since he was a teenager and twice held the British advanced aerobatics title.

He was a member of the Wildcat Aerobatic Team, based at Old Buckenham Airfield, near Attleborough, where the event took place.

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