Pilot Barry Dodd 'disorientated' before helicopter crash

Barry DoddImage source, Two Ridings Community Foundation
Image caption,
Barry Dodd CBE was the only person onboard the helicopter when it crashed last May

A pilot who worked as a personal representative for the Queen probably became disorientated in clouds before a fatal helicopter crash, an investigation has found.

North Yorkshire's Lord Lieutenant Barry Dodd was killed when the aircraft crashed in a field and caught fire near Boroughbridge last May.

Investigators described the weather conditions at the time as challenging.

No evidence of a pre-existing defect with the helicopter was found.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said the 70-year-old was flying the Bell 206B helicopter from Husthwaite for its annual maintenance check at Walton Wood Airfield, about 45 miles away.

Several witnesses saw the helicopter flying normally before climbing steeply into cloud, emerging and descending rapidly.

Fifteen seconds later it struck the ground and caught fire killing Mr Dodd, investigators said.

Image caption,
The aircraft was seen to climb steeply into cloud before emerging rotating and descending rapidly

"It could not be determined why the helicopter entered cloud but it is probable that the pilot was distracted or became disorientated in the poor weather conditions," the AAIB said.

"Having entered cloud it is likely that the pilot became spatially disorientated and was unable to maintain control of the helicopter."

Investigators were also told by several people who had flown with Mr Dodd that he was a "good pilot".

Mr Dodd took up the role as Her Majesty's Lord Lieutenant for North Yorkshire in September 2014.

The Lord Lieutenant is the Queen's representative in the county, responsible for the promotion of civic, commercial, voluntary and social activities.

He was also serving as chairman and pro-chancellor at the University of Hull.

In 2014 he was awarded a CBE for services to the UK economy.

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