Crash due to fog

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Poor weather conditions were to blame for a plane crash near Hadleigh in which a pilot died, according to a report into the accident.

Gregory Clipstone died when his light aircraft came down near farmhouses in Aldham in December.

The microlight hit overhead power lines and a tree before coming to rest in a pond on December 8.

A report by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) said weather conditions had deteriorated quickly on the day of the crash, and resulted in 56-year-old Mr Clipstone getting into difficulties.

It stated that when he had taken off from an airstrip in Newton, where his aircraft was based, Mr Clipstone would have been able to see for seven kilometres but, by the time of the accident, visibility had reduced to just three kilometres.

Despite being an experienced pilot of 20 years, Mr Clipstone was not qualified to fly in the conditions.

The report said that he had been aware of the worsening weather and had mentioned it during a phone call to a friend at 11.05am. The Met Office said there was bad fog and mist at the time.

“During the conversation, the pilot described his route and commented that there was mist ahead and that he would need to descend to 300 feet,” it said.

“The phone call ended with the pilot saying he would visit his friend’s house later in the day.”

It is thought Mr Clipstone, who was flying on a route along the Felixstowe coastline, over Ipswich and back inland, was heading for Elmsett Airfield when he crashed.

Evidence from the plane’s GPS showed rapid changes in speed, track and altitude, which suggested the aircraft was “not fully under control”.

An Aldham farmer witnessed this and originally thought the plane was doing aerobatics.

“He considered it odd that an aircraft would be doing aerobatics in those conditions,” the report stated.

“The witness then saw the aircraft drop out of the cloud and strike a power cable before disappearing from view behind buildings and trees.”

On impact, there was a severe fire. Due to this, the report said that it was impossible to rule out the possibility that a defect had affected the operation of the aircraft, but no technical issues had been found.

Mr Clipstone had two children, James and Sarah. Following his death, his family described him as an “inspiration” who would be greatly missed by those close to him.