Terrible freak of nature caused fatal plane crash
TAIL WIND: Wife was killed as pilot husband tried to make forced landing
A CORONER has told a pilot in a fatal plane crash that killed his wife that he could not have avoided the tragedy.
Max Rippon had been flying a light aircraft, with his wife Danielle as a passenger, when it crashed and struck the only oak tree in a field.
Mrs Rippon, 66, died at the scene from multiple injuries.
An inquest jury on Monday returned an accidental death verdict.
Coroner Rachel Redman told Mr Rippon: “I believe there was nothing you could have done to avoid this tragedy.
“It was a terrible freak of nature that the plane collided with the oak tree.”
The crash happened just minutes after the plane had taken off from an airstrip at Fridd Farm, Bethersden, on September 30, 2007.
The inquest at Dover heard that the plane had encountered a partial loss of engine power in mid-air. Mr Rippon tried to land safely but the plane ended up striking the tree.
The inquest at Dover heard that Mrs Rippon’s safety harness had failed in the impact, throwing her forward and she most likely suffered her injuries by striking the instrument panel and joystick.
A pathologist told the inquest that had the harness remained intact she may have endured no more than the minor injuries sustained by her husband.
The Department of Transport’s Air Accidents Investigations Branch (AAIB) investigation said the engine trouble had been caused by a blockage in the carburettor.
The investigators said that Mr Rippon, an experienced pilot, had got into further difficulty by choosing the wrong runway to land on, one that was in the direction of a tailwind.
But they stressed that this was done under intense pressure, in a flight lasting less than four minutes.
They believed that had he had more time to think he would have made the right choice.
Mrs Redman also said she would write to the European Aviation Safety Administration, which implements and monitors flying safety rules, concerning the maintenance of carburettors.
The AAIB had produced a report last November analysing the cause of the crash and its one safety recommendation was for the removal and inspection of carburettor bowls.
Emergency crews at the scene of the crash near Bethersden in September 2007