Heroic pilot steered crashing plane away from M1

The crash scene
The crash scene

The 70-year-old pilot of a stricken plane who steered the aircraft away from the M1 motorway before it plummeted into a field has been hailed as ‘selfless’.

Pilot John Gill and his passenger, Robert Alan Eaves (76), died instantly, an inquest into their deaths heard on Monday, after the plane suffered an inexplicable loss of power.

Recording a conclusion of accidental death, coroner Mairin Casey said: “Shortly before the moment of impact there was a change of direction.

“While we cannot be certain, it may well be that, familiar with this area, there was a choice made to minimise the risk to others by diverting course from the direction of the motorway.

“That’s something that shows firstly experience, and secondly a great deal of selflessness in facing that decision.”

A 15-second video, recorded on a dashboard camera of a driver on the M1, captured the moment the Cessna plane spiraled out of control – and made a sharp left turn away from the motorway.

Crash investigator Andrew Blackie, from the Air Accident Investigation Branch, said: “It shows the aircraft approximately 100 feet above the ground, climbing towards 200ft.

“The aircraft then rolls to the left, to the point where the left wing is pointing towards the ground, and then enters a vertical rotating descent before passing out of sight. It had made a 360-degree turn by that point.”

The plane landed nose-first in the field near junction 26, with the front end crushed on impact.

Both men, who were experienced pilots and members of Merlin Flying Club in Hucknall, suffered severe head, spine, chest and abdominal injuries. There was no evidence either man suffered any sudden illness prior to the accident and full safety checks were carried out before the flight.

Miss Casey added: “Although the intention would have been to fly over the motorway, there seems to have been a decision taken to actually stop that line of travel and turn away from the motorway. Had he collided and landed on the motorway, there would have been a far greater risk of collision with other traffic.”

A full investigation was carried out into the accident, which happened on June 14th last year.