Bungay aircraft crash: Pilot 'leader' in field, friends say

Scene of plane crash Image copyright Zak Nelson
Image caption The plane was on fire when firefighters arrived at the scene

A pilot whose vintage aircraft crashed in Norfolk, killing a passenger, is one of the country's leading Mustang aviators, a friend has said.

Maurice Hammond's P-51 Mustang came down at Hardwick airfield, near Bungay, at about 15:35 BST on Sunday.

His passenger, a man in his 80s, died at the scene. Mr Hammond, from Eye, Suffolk, was airlifted to hospital.

The family friend said: "He is probably in the top three or four pilots of this marque of aircraft in the UK."

Air accident investigators are expected at the airfield, which remains closed, later.

The P-51 D Model Mustang was in flames when emergency services arrived at the airfield, about 10 miles south of Norwich.

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Charles Christian, who saw the plane come down, said it appeared to approach the runway normally, with its landing gear down, before he heard a small explosion after it disappeared behind some trees.

Image copyright Submitted
Image caption Pilot Maurice Hammond is a regular at airshows

The American plane was one of two Mustangs owned by Mr Hammond, who is in his fifties and a regular at airshows.

It was built by North American Aviation in Dallas, Texas, in 1945 as one of a batch of 10. It was restored by Mr Hammond.

A family friend said: "He is a phenomenal engineer.

"You couldn't fly with somebody technically more competent. He is regarded as a leader in his field."

Image copyright Zak Nelson
Image caption One eye witness said he heard a small explosion

Mr Hammond is considered an expert on vintage plane restoration and his work has been featured in a Discovery Channel series, Plane Resurrection.

He remains in a stable condition in hospital, friends said.

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