Chigwell air crash pilots who tragically died are named

PUBLISHED: 16:17 08 October 2015 | UPDATED: 18:00 08 October 2015

Robert Bull, the pilot killed after his plane crashed in Gravel Lane, Chigwell

Robert Bull, the pilot killed after his plane crashed in Gravel Lane, Chigwell

Essex Police

Tributes have been paid to a Hornchurch pilot tragically killed alongside his colleague when their plane crashed into a field and burst into flames.

Francis Simmonds, pilot killed in the crash in Gravel Lane, ChigwellFrancis Simmonds, pilot killed in the crash in Gravel Lane, Chigwell

Rob Bull, 40, died after the eight-seater Beechcraft King Air 200 landed in a field off Gravel Lane, Chigwell, just before 10.20am on Saturday.

First Officer Francis Simmonds, 46, who lived in Luton, was also killed in the crash.

Both men were described as “highly-experienced” pilots by a spokesman for owner and operator London Executive Aviation (LEA).

The plane had taken off from Stapleford Aerodrome, Stapleford Tawney, but crashed soon after.

Mr Bull’s family said: “He always put a smile on everyone’s face and enjoyed sharing a good joke.

“Rob would always go out of his way to help people and nothing was too much trouble for him.

“He had been a pilot since 2003 and it was what he had always wanted to do.

“As an experienced pilot he worked hard to constantly improve his skills and had recently been awarded a captaincy.

“He was the glue that held everyone together and his family and friends are devastated by our loss.

“He will be sorely missed by everyone that knew him.”

Mr Simmonds’ family described him as a devoted husband to wife Laura and dad to seven-year-old son.

They said: “Becoming a pilot was Francis’ boyhood dream and he loved every day of his job. His death leaves a gaping hole in our hearts and lives.

“We would ask for privacy whilst we come to terms with our loss.”

Southend Flying Club confirmed Mr Bull was a flying examiner and came in about twice a month to test students working towards their private pilots’ licence.

A spokesman for the LEA said the plane’s captain, believed to have been Mr Bull, had “extensive experience” flying King Air aircraft and was a Civil Aviation Authority flying examiner.

Video footage of the crash uploaded to YouTube on Monday shows horrified on-lookers running towards the scene.

Tributes have been pouring in to LEA’s Facebook page.

Fabio Nunes said he was “shocked to the core”, while Chris Tofts added: “No words can express our condolences to the families as well as the LEA team, as I know how close you all work... RIP.”

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