Glider crash pilot Nigel John Howes 'had heart attack'

Image source, AAIB
Image caption,
The AAIB released a photograph of the scene of the crash in Snowdonia

A pilot whose glider crashed in Snowdonia earlier this year had suffered an in-flight heart attack, a report has found.

Nigel John Howes, 64, from Stockport, crashed in Blaenau Ffestiniog on 4 May.

The Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said a post-mortem investigation showed the heart attack would have "either rendered him unconscious or been fatal".

Police found the wreckage when Mr Howes failed to return as planned.

He had spoken to his wife about 30 minutes before the crash, and did not report feeling unwell, the AAIB's report found.

During one conversation with his wife, he said he was about 10 miles from Snowdon and had told her the conditions were "not good, cloud ahead, might turn back".

He had taken off from Talgarth Airfield, and the glider was found in a field three nautical miles south of Blaenau Ffestiniog in Gwynedd.

'No health conditions'

The aircraft - a Rolladen-Schneidr LS7 - was found by a coastguard helicopter crew with the pilot still strapped in.

The pilot held a British Gliding Association Gliding Certificate and was a senior instructor at his local gliding club. He had accumulated 3,349 hours of glider flying, the AAIB said.

It added his medical records did not show any pre-existing conditions which may have contributed to the accident and his family confirmed he did not have any ongoing health issues.

A friend who helped him launch the glider said he appeared to be in good health.

The report concludes: "It could not be determined at what point prior to the accident the pilot became impaired, but it appeared that the glider was being actively piloted until a few minutes before the accident." 

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