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Pilot's death accidental - inquest

PUBLISHED: 08:54 05 March 2008 | UPDATED: 11:18 28 May 2010

The death of a pilot whose light aircraft crashed as he performed aerobatics for a friend's retirement party was accidental, an inquest ruled yesterday.

The death of a pilot whose light aircraft crashed as he performed aerobatics for a friend's retirement party was accidental, an inquest ruled yesterday.

Stephen Cowham, pictured, from Wingfield, died after losing control of his Slingsby Firefly, which spiralled to the ground and burst into flames.

Mr Cowham, 40, who owned a garage near Fressingfield, had been performing aerobatics for the party in the village of Hoxne on July 16, 2006.

His wife Joanne, their two children and his parents were watching the display when the crash happened.

At yesterday's inquest at Lowestoft Magistrates' Court, Greater Suffolk coroner Peter Dean said the official report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch had concluded there were no indications of mechanical problems with the plane.

Dr Dean, who recorded a verdict of accidental death, added the results of a post-mortem examination did not suggest Mr Cowham had any medical condition at the time of the crash.

He revealed that Mr Cowham's May Day call was also detailed in the report and that his last words were: “In a spiral dive and cannot recover”.

The coroner stated Mr Cowham had obtained his private pilot's licence in 2005 and had 83 hours of flying experience. At the time of the crash he was not wearing a parachute, but he added it was not clear that if he had been wearing one there would have been an opportunity to abandon the plane.

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