Co Down helicopter crash remains a mystery inquest hears
THE pilot of a helicopter which crashed killing a friend of the Prince of Wales may have been incapacitated, an inquest heard today.
Anthony Smith, 63, flew into the side of a cloud-shrouded mountain in the Mourne range, Co Down, in October 2010.
The Prince's friend Charles Stisted, 47, chief executive of the Guards Polo Club at Windsor, was a passenger on the flight returning to England after attending an exclusive shooting party at an estate in Co Tyrone.
Construction company businessman and fellow polo player Ian Wooldridge, 52, and experienced pilot Mr Smith, formerly of the RAF and army with service in Northern Ireland, also died.
Air Accident Investigation Bureau investigator Paul Hannant said the helicopter flew at 150 knots into the mountainside.
"This is part of the mystery, that somebody of that ability and great experience would not take a risk in flying into cloud below the level of the high ground, it is something that you simply do not do," he said.
"This is why I have come towards some form of incapacitation but that is a personal view."
A warning system of high ground was turned off.
Parts of the aircraft were scattered across a large area of inhospitable mountainside.
No illness was discovered in Mr Smith, although his remains were scattered over a wide area and a full post-mortem could not be carried out, a pathologist said.