Sunday 18 August 2019

Three killed in mid-air crash close to Rothschilds' mansion

Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, near to where a helicopter and a small plane collided in mid-air. Photo: PA
Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, near to where a helicopter and a small plane collided in mid-air. Photo: PA
Drone footage of wreckage
Police at the scene. Photo: PA

Patrick Sawer

At least three people were feared dead after a mid-air collision between a helicopter and light aircraft flying from an airfield in England where air traffic control had been shut due to "staff shortages".

Wreckage from the aircraft tumbled from the sky and landed less than 2km from the former home of the Rothschild banking family at Waddesdon Manor in Buckinghamshire, at lunchtime yesterday.

Residents reported hearing a "loud bang", and a plume of smoke could be seen above trees. The UK's Air Accidents Investigation Branch said the collision involved a helicopter and aircraft, both of which had taken off from Wycombe Air Park, 37km away near High Wycombe.

It is understood the helicopter was carrying two people, while only the pilot was on board the light aircraft, reported to be a two-seat Cessna 152.

A Notice to Airmen was previously issued to warn pilots the air field's air traffic control services would be closed during three 30-minute periods on selected days between November 7-30 due to a "staff shortage".

The crash occurred around half an hour after the latest closure was due to end.

One local pilot, Roger Nock, tweeted after hearing news of the crash: "Was flying near Aylesbury earlier. Skies around here are so busy."

At least seven fire appliances rushed to the scene at Upper Winchendon and a fire brigade drone was launched over the fallen wreckage to spot any survivors.

Staff from the Grade I listed Waddesdon Manor, which is managed by the Rothschild Foundation on behalf of the National Trust, helped direct emergency vehicles as police threw up an extensive cordon around the area.

As wreckage came down near the village of Upper Winchendon, local residents feared for the safety of their loved ones, with many stepping forward to offer assistance to the emergency services..

One parent wrote on Twitter: "Nothing like your heart stopping when you learn that a plane has come down literally 500 meters from your toddler's nursery."

Irish Independent

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