Fog led to couple’s tragic plane crash

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A West Hallam couple died after their plane ditched into the sea as it approached the airport after the pilot became disorientated by fog, an inquest has heard.

Carl and Kathryn Whiteley would have been killed instantly after a high-speed, high-intensity crash shortly after 10am on September 4 2013.

Sarah Chatburn, one of the couple’s two daughters, gave evidence at their inquest at Jersey, where the crash happened.

In a statement she described the couple as ‘the very centre of our family’.

The couple, both 55, were arriving in Jersey following a holiday in France after leaving East Midlands Airport on August 30.

Mr Whiteley, who was flying the Cessna Crusader from Dinan in France to Jersey, may have made a wrong turning and in trying to quickly correct the mistake may have caused the plane to stall. As the plane had already begun its descent there was no time for him to recover.

Ms Chatburn’s statement said: “The plane was kept in Newquay and regularly flew to Jersey to refuel.

“I was aware that there was some pre-arranged work to do on the auto-pilot and that they had been due back on Wednesday September 4.

“He (Mr Whiteley) was a very confident pilot who always put safety first. They were the very centre of our family.”

Coastguard manager Russell Mathew spoke of how he co-ordinated the search and rescue mission, which at one stage involved 15 vessels, including ships from the Royal Navy, the RNLI and commercial boats that had stopped to help. Very little of the wreckage was found, meaning that an accurate investigation into why the plane crashed couldn’t be given.

A few minutes before the plane crashed, Mr Whiteley had contacted air traffic control. His message revealed that he had miscalculated the approach to the runway.

The plane disappeared from the radar just a few minutes later.

The coroner, deputy viscount Mark Harris, concluded that the cause of the incident was that Carl Whiteley became disorientated during the approach in the fog and lost significant speed after a rapid climb which led to a stall and loss of control of the aircraft. This in turn led to an impact with the sea at high speed causing the death of both Carl Whiteley and Kathryn Whiteley.