Two dead after two light aircraft crash in Isle of Wight, England

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Sunday, September 5, 2010

Bembridge Airport, where the Merlin Trophy, a race organised by the Royal Aero Club Racing and Rally Association, was being held on Saturday and Sunday. The rest of the event has been cancelled.

Two individuals have died as the result of a light aircraft collision on the Isle of Wight in England, United Kingdom. The collision occurred at approximately 1700 BST (1800 UTC) on Saturday between Ryde and Newport, while two aircraft were participating in an organised race. Both of the aircraft were carrying two occupants. The two fatalities were both travelling in the same four-seat touring propeller aircraft. The two occupants of the second, a two-seat sports propeller aircraft, survived the crash, although one was hospitalised after the plane safely landed at Bembridge Airport.

Hampshire Constabulary, who later arrived at the location of the accident, have released a statement reading: "Police are at the scene of a fatal light aircraft collision at Havenstreet on the Isle of Wight. Police received the call from a member of the public this evening at 5.08pm to report two light aircraft in collision over the island. One of these aircraft, containing two people, suffered damage and made its way safely to Bembridge airport. The other aircraft, also containing two people, came down in a remote wooded area in the Havenstreet area. Both occupants of this second aircraft have now been confirmed dead." The wing of the second aircraft was sliced off in the collision, and a farmer found it in an inverted nose-up position in woodland known as Rowlands Wood. The body of the second aircraft will be left in the woods overnight, and police closed off a nearby road while they carry out their inquiries.

The two aircraft were reportedly participating in the Rolls Royce Merlin Trophy, a race organised by the Royal Aero Club Racing and Rally Association, which has been held on the island since 1981. "There was a mid-air collision just before the finish of the race," confirmed Tim Wassell, the chairman of the association. "Two planes were in collision and both had two men on board. One was a four-seater touring aircraft which, it would appear from witness reports, appears to have broken up mid-air and come down in woodland at Rowlands Woods. The second plane, a sports aircraft, was badly damaged by the collision but limped back to Bembridge Airport. The two occupants from there are safe." The race was first held in 1911, when it was founded by Jaques Schneider, the French Under-Secretary for Air, to encourage progress in civil aviation.

"There were 19 planes taking part in the today's race, the Merlin Trophy, which is a precursor to the main Schneider Trophy that was due to take place tomorrow but is now due to be cancelled. Two planes were in collision and both had two men on board. A four-seater touring aircraft was thought to have lost a wing and come down in woodland. The second plane, a sports aircraft, was badly damaged but limped back to Bembridge Airport," Wassell said, telling reporters that the two survivors in the first aircraft were extremely shocked, but had no serious injuries. They were were both taken to hospital as a precaution.

The victims of this incident are currently remaining unidentified. "I would also ask that anyone who has recovered parts of the aircraft, which may be spread over a wide area, take them to Newport police station", Inspector Paul Saville requested. An investigation has been launched by the Air Accident Investigation Branch and the police into the cause of crash.