Tributes have been paid paid to Simon Chamberlain who was killed when the plane he was flying crashed into a field. The pilot of the plane was also killed. Source: PA
Simon Chamberlain, a 29-year-old father of one and an aircraft enthusiast from Harlow, died together with the Yak 52 plane's pilot when they got into difficulties at around 2.55pm on Saturday after flying out of North Weald airfield in Essex.
Witnesses described how the training aircraft had been attempting a somersault before going down and bursting into flames in a rural area between Ongar and Writtle, near Chelmsford.
Mr Chamberlain's family said last night in a statement: "Yesterday there was a light aircraft crash near Writtle in Essex. Simon Chamberlain, who was 29, was the passenger in that plane. He would have been 30 in May.
"Lizzie, his wife, has lost her best friend and soul mate. His son, Charlie, who will be two years old in August, has lost his father. And his parents, Paul and Steph, have lost a loving son. We love him more than anything the world.
"Our hearts also go out to the other person involved in this tragedy.
Mr Chamberlain's family said he was an aircraft enthusiast who served as secretary and trustee of the North Weald Airfield Museum, both voluntary roles.
He did everything at North Weald airfield from general maintenance to refuelling helicopters and moving planes around and was also a keen amateur aircraft photographer.
Police have said they are not in a position to identify the pilot, but confirmed that he was also from Essex and his next of kin have been informed. A coroner from the county is expected to name him today at the opening of an inquest into the men's deaths.
The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is investigating Saturday's accident, which left the aircraft "completely alight".
A witness spoke of how he and two young Army cadets ran to the scene of the fatal crash to try and help the victims but were held back by the severity of the fire.
Tristram Taylor, 27, from Chelmsford, told the BBC he was in a car with his mother after leaving a nearby garden centre when he saw the plane dip behind a hedge, followed by a billow of smoke.
He said: "I got out and ran towards it with a couple of Army cadets that were in the car behind - they were probably only about 15 or 16 years old.
"There were flames coming from the cockpit - they must have been about 10ft high. The wind was very strong in the field. I could feel the heat of the flames just a few feet away."
Mr Taylor added: "It was horrific. The plane was popping and spitting where the fuel was catching fire. I don't think anything could have been done."
The Yakovlev Yak 52 is a two-seater propeller aircraft first built in the Soviet Union in the 1970s which is popular for aerobatic flying
It has been involved in two more fatal accidents in the UK in recent years.
In April 2011, two people were killed when a Yak 52 aircraft from North Weald crashed.
Instructor Simon Hulme, 33, and his 43-year-old student, Spencer Bennett, died when their plane went down near Langford, east of Chelmsford.
An inquest in Chelmsford in 2012 heard they were on the last day of a three-day formation flying school when the aircraft spun and plummeted from 1,800ft into a lake.
And in January 2003, Falklands veteran Anthony Hunt, 48, died along with his brother Ian, 45, when their aircraft crashed in a field on the Easton Neston estate, near Towcester, Northamptonshire, while practising aerobatic manoeuvres.
His family was awarded £270,000 damages by the High Court in 2006 after an investigation found that during maintenance a short screwdriver had become wedged into the wires that operated the rear elevators of the plane.
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