The pilot of a Tiger Moth aircraft has gone on trial accused of the manslaughter of his passenger who died when the aircraft crashed while "attempting a loop-the-loop" which only had "an improbable chance of recovery".
Scott Hoyle, 48, of Charborough Road, Poole, Dorset, a former Royal Marine, is accused of - but denies - carrying out the acrobatic manoeuvre while flying too low and while carrying Orlando Rogers, 26, from Poole, who was too big for the plane to safely carry it out. Words: PA
Michael Bowes QC, prosecuting, told Winchester Crown Court that Hoyle, who he described as a "novice" at flying this type of aircraft, carried out the flight on the "pleasant spring afternoon" of May 15, 2011, at Compton Abbas airfield in north Dorset.
He said: "Shortly afterwards the aircraft crashed in a field a few miles away near Witchampton.
"Orlando Rogers died of his injuries later that evening. Scott Hoyle suffered serious injuries and he made a recovery.
"The prosecution says that the fatal crash was caused as a result of conscious risk-taking by Scott Hoyle in that he flew the aircraft in a way that carried an obvious risk of serious injury to Orlando Rogers and Scott Hoyle chose to disregard it or was indifferent to it."
He said the prosecution say that "the accident happened when the aircraft entered a spin from an attempted loop manoeuvre at a height that recovery was improbable".
Mr Bowes explained that one of the factors which caused the accident was the size of Mr Rogers who was 18.5 stone and 6ft 2in tall and the restriction of movement his size would have had on the control stick in his cockpit.
He added: "In addition, this defendant was an inexperienced pilot of this type of aircraft and was untrained in aerobatics for spin recovery.
"It's submitted that he flew the aircraft beyond the limits of his training."
Mr Bowes said that Hoyle denies trying to carrying out a loop manoeuvre but the prosecutor said that he had carried out a similar stunt on another flight earlier that afternoon with a different passenger.
He said this previous loop and eyewitness accounts suggest that he was trying to carry out a loop when the crash happened.
The prosecutor said that Hoyle said in an interview with the coroner's officer that the plane had suffered a jammed rudder and it was his attempts to right the aircraft that made it look like he was carrying out a loop.
He said that an investigation by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) into the crashed plane found no sign of malfunction with the rudder.
Mr Bowes said: "He said that following a turn to the left, the rudder remained jammed to the left, that he lost control of the aircraft and may have moved too hard back on the stick so it may have appeared the aircraft was entering a loop."
He added: "He was adamant he was not carrying out a loop manoeuvre with Orlando Rogers and said as a general rule he wouldn't do a loop with anyone bigger than himself."
Mr Bowes said that Hoyle said he would not carry out a loop at less than 2,000 feet although the minimum heights allowed for a loop would be 3,000ft and novices should start at 5,000ft. He added that the loop carried out during the earlier flight was at a lower height than Hoyle had suggested.
He said of the crash: "This was an attempted loop and it was far too low because when it fell out of the loop it was too low to do anything about it."
Mr Bowes described how the Tiger Moth was a training plane used by the RAF until 1952 and 4,000 were built in the Second World War with many still in use as recreational aircraft around the world such as the one involved in the accident which was built in 1940.
He said that Hoyle had gained his private pilot's licence in 2001 but despite his flying hours which he had built up in a bid to become a professional pilot, he was a "novice" at flying the Tiger Moth.
The jury was told that they will visit an airfield later this week to view a Tiger Moth for themselves and they were shown short video clips of the biplane involved in the accident as it prepared to take off on its final flight.
The trial continues.
Mr Rogers was a former Royal Marine who served in Afghanistan and Northern Ireland and ran a maritime security company after leaving the services.