Chigwell aircraft crash: West Ham’s chairmen due to fly on different plane, company confirms
PUBLISHED: 11:33 04 October 2015 | UPDATED: 13:11 04 October 2015
The plane which crashed in a field in Chigwell yesterday, killing both crew members on board, was not the same plane due to fly West Ham’s chairmen to the club’s match with Sunderland.
Yesterday David Gold, co-chairman with David Sullivan, told the Premier League side’s online fan forum ClaretandHugh the pair were both “ok” after the aircraft, believed to have been an eight-seater Beechcraft King Air 200, came down before 10.20am in a field off Gravel Lane.
But today (Sun) it emerged the pair had been due to fly on a different plane owned and operated by London Executive Aviation (LEA).
Managing director George Galanopoulos said: “The airfield was closed immediately following the accident, which is why Mr Sullivan’s party was unable to depart as intended.
“The aircraft that came down would clearly not have departed with only crew if it was due to be carrying passengers.”
Gravel Lane remained cordoned off today by police as forensic teams continued investigations into the crash, which happened “almost immediately” after take-off from Stapleford Aerodrome, Abridge.
Floral tributes could be seen laid in honour of the crew members flying the aircraft, who were both “highly-experienced professional pilots”, LEA said.
Firefighters reported the aircraft was 100 per cent alight upon their arrival.
After visiting the site yesterday, Mr Galanopoulos said: “Everybody at London Executive Aviation is shocked and deeply saddened by this tragic accident.
“Our hearts go out to the families and friends of our colleagues who lost their lives.
“We will do everything possible to support them at this difficult time.
“We will also co‐operate fully with the authorities charged with investigating the causes of the accident.”
A spokesman for the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said it had deployed a team to the scene and was working with Essex Police.
LEA confirmed the plane, which had been set to fly to RAF Brize Norton, in Oxfordshire, was manufactured in 1981 and its most recent scheduled maintenance inspection was on June 12 this year.
A spokesman revealed the captain killed in the crash had “extensive experience” flying King Air aircraft and was a Civil Aviation Authority flying examiner.
Tom Gardner, 31, from Brentwood, told the Recorder yesterday he could smell “acrid smoke” while running close to the scene and had spoken to witnesses who felt the ground “shake and shudder” upon impact.
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