Saturday, March 29, 2014

Yakovlev Yak-52, G-YAKR: Accident occurred March 29, 2014 in Cooksmill Green, near Chelmsford, Essex, UK

The wreckage of the Yak 52 is cleared on the Sunday

Simon Chamberlain

Andrew Sully served with the Royal Air Force before becoming a commercial airline pilot

The YAK aircraft piloted by Andrew Sully during an evening air display at North Weald 2012  


An airline pilot killed in a plane crash over Essex had served in both the Falklands conflict and the Gulf War, his widow has said. 
British Airways pilot Andrew Sully, 50, and 29-year-old Simon Chamberlain died in the YAK 52 plane crash near Chelmsford on Saturday afternoon.

Inquests into their deaths were opened in Chelmsford earlier. Full hearings will be held at a later date.

Mr Sully's widow Aileen said: "Andrew died doing what he loved."

As a teenager, he joined the air cadets before flying with the University of Birmingham Air Squadron and joining the Royal Air Force as an officer pilot.

He saw active service flying the Hercules C130 out of RAF Lyneham during the Falklands in 1982 and in the 1991 Gulf War.

Mr Sully, who lived in Writtle, near Chelmsford, was a senior first officer with British Airways' 747 fleet.

"Both men are described by those who last saw them as happy and excited about going airborne," Mrs Sully said.

"The incident occurred 15 minutes after departing from North Weald.

"Andrew was a highly experienced and skilled pilot, especially in aerobatics.

"Andrew was passionate about flying and extremely skilled in all aspects of aviation."

British Airways said Mr Sully was "a highly-respected and popular member" of its pilot team.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the crash.

Inquests open into Writtle plane crash victims Andrew Sully and Simon Chamberlain

The two victims of a plane crash near Writtle on Saturday died from multiple injuries. 

An inquest hearing opened today at Essex’s coroner’s court in Victoria Road South also heard the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) was continuing to investigate the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

The pilot of the light aircraft, father-of-three Andrew Sully, 50, of Chancery Place, Writtle, and passenger Simon Chamberlain, 29, of Cambridge Road, Harlow, died when the Yak 52 plunged into a field in Cooksmill Green at about 2.55pm.

The plane took off from North Weald airfield.

Eyewitnesses claim they saw the plane attempt a “loop the loop” before crashing and bursting into flames.

Coroner’s office Paul Roberts said today: “This 50-year-old (Andrew John Sully) gentleman was piloting a two-seater small light aircraft when the plane crashed into a field.”

He added: “The post mortem examination found a provisional cause of death of multiple injuries.”

A post mortem examination of Mr Chamberlain’s body also concluded the same cause of death.

Essex coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray stated the court required complete post mortem examination results, toxicology results, a report from both the men’s GPs, a report from Essex Police and a report from the AAIB.

An inquest mention hearing is fixed for May 19.


The heartbroken family of a senior British Airways pilot and Gulf War veteran who was killed when the light aircraft he was flying crashed into a field near Writtle have paid tribute to the loving father and son. 

Experienced flyer Andrew Sully, 50, a father-of-three of Chancery Place, Writtle, died in the crash along with Simon Chamberlain, 29, of Harlow, when the YAK 52 he was flying nose-dived into a rapeseed field next to the A414 at Cooksmill Green on Saturday and burst into flames.

Emergency services raced to the scene at 2.55pm, with firefighters and police shutting the A414 as smoke billowed from the wreckage, but it was too late for the occupants of the plane, which eyewitnesses say had been attempting a loop-the-loop.

Andrew is survived by his ex-wife Aileen and his three sons, Thomas, James and Peter.

In an exclusive interview with the Chronicle, Mr Sully's mother Christine, a reverend who lives in Gainsborough, Lincolnshire, said: "We are devastated, I'm not sure words can explain. He was our oldest child and a loving father and son. He always loved flying and his dad John was a pilot.

"We know that he was doing what he loved when he died, he loved old planes and old cars. He will be sadly missed by me, his father John, sisters Julia and Elizabeth and his many friends."

Mr Sully, a regular at The Wheatsheaf pub in Writtle, was educated at Kimbolten School and Birmingham University before entering the RAF.

He flew the Hercules C130 during the first Gulf War and was also a respected training pilot. After leaving the military, he entered a career in civil aviation, flying the Boeing 747 for British Airways.

The A414, between Writtle and Ongar, was cordoned off by police as well as other routes into the site while firefighters tackled the blaze.

The airspace is popular with pilots practising aerobatics from North Weald airfield and people were watching the plane performing stunts before the crash.

In April 2011, two people were killed when a Yak 52 aircraft from North Weald airfield crashed into a field near Langford on the Dengie peninsula. Instructor Simon Hulme, 33, and his 43-year-old student, Spencer Bennett, were killed when the aircraft they were flying spun and plummeted 1,800ft into a lake.

Mr Sully's passenger Simon Chamberlain was a father-of-one and secretary of the North Weald airfield museum and was not scheduled to fly that day. His parents are understood to have raced to the scene after learning of the crash.

Chairman of the museum Peter Gardner, who is godfather to Mr Chamberlain's young son Charlie, said: "He was a hardworking, much-loved and much-respected young man who is going to be greatly missed. Our thoughts are with all of his family – mum and dad, his wife and boy."

Mr Chamberlain was helping the airfield prepare for a helicopter event, scheduled for Sunday, and had taken his wife Lizzie and son Charlie along with him for a family day out.

Mr Gardner said: "As often happens, a plane was going up and the pilot said 'do you want to come for a ride'? And he went for the ride, which he had done many times before. He was dedicated. There were two things in his life – his family and his aircraft.

"We are devastated. They say the loss of people leaves a hole in your heart and this has left a chasm. After my mum died five years ago, he and Lizzie took me under their wing."

Simon's family said in a statement: "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 in the world. Our hearts also go out to the other person involved in this tragedy."

Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) are investigating the cause.

Andrew Sully

The flag at North Weald Airfield is flying at half-mast after the fatal crash at the weekend

Andrew Lansdell said he took this picture of the plane about 15 minutes before it crashed 

Photo Courtesy/Credit:   Essex County Fire and Rescue Service 

The man in charge of a light aircraft that crashed in Essex was an experienced British Airways pilot, it has emerged.

Andrew Sully and 29-year-old Simon Chamberlain died in Saturday afternoon's crash near Chelmsford.

British Airways confirmed Mr Sully, from Writtle, near Chelmsford, was "a highly-respected and popular member" of its "pilot team".

The YAK 52 plane they crashed in has been taken away for investigation.

Mark Reynolds saw the accident and described how the cockpit had "bent underneath" the plane.

Mr Reynolds, a chef at a pub opposite the crash site, said he was standing outside on a break with a colleague when they saw the plane overhead.

"While standing out the back of the building we saw a plane overhead doing what seemed to be, at first sight, aerobatics," he said.

"And then... it seemed more distress than aerobatics.

"It twisted and then took an immediate nose-dive... and at that point, I knew that it was going to crash so I immediately called the emergency services and ran to get to the crash site."

At first, he said, he thought the aircraft was just smoking. But as he got closer, he saw the flames billowing from the plane.

"We got within 10ft (3m) and we could see what I know now was the passenger. The cockpit had bent underneath itself."

The plane, which crashed near Cooksmill Green, had taken off from a nearby airfield and was seen by a number of eyewitnesses as it came down near the A414.

Mr Chamberlain, of Harlow, would have been 30 in May, his family said in a statement.

"Lizzie, his wife, has lost her best friend and soulmate. 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 in the world."

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the crash.
Two young Army cadets ran to the scene of a fatal plane crash to try and help the victims, the man who made the 999 call said. 

 The YAK 52 aircraft crashed on Saturday afternoon in a field near Cooksmill Green, west of Chelmsford in Essex.

Tristram Taylor, from Chelmsford, said he ran over to the crash site with two boys when they saw the plane hit the ground after a "backward somersault".

But the flames were so severe they could not reach the men inside.

The plane had taken off from the nearby North Weald airfield and was seen by a number of eyewitnesses looking like it was somersaulting before crashing near to the A414, at just before 15:00 GMT.

'Flames from cockpit'

Mr Taylor, 27, said he was in a car with his mother leaving a nearby garden centre when they noticed a plane flying low.

"We saw it dip behind a hedge and usually they come up - we see stunt planes carrying out moves around here quite a lot - but this time it didn't," he said.

"We went a bit further down the road and I could then see the tail end of the plane on the ground and a lot of smoke.

"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."

He said police, about four or five fire crews and a number of ambulances arrived soon afterwards.

"It was horrific. The plane was popping and spitting where the fuel was catching fire. I don't think anything could have been done."

Both victims' next of kin have been informed and their names will be released by the coroner upon the opening of their inquests, Essex Police said.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch is investigating the crash.
Essex plane crash victim identified as father and keen flyer Simon Chamberlain

One of the people who died after a lightweight plane he was travelling in plunged into a field near Writtle yesterday (March 29) has been identified.

Simon Chamberlain, from Harlow, died in the crash, which happened in an area adjacent to the A414 shortly before 3pm.

He has not been formally identified and it has not been confirmed whether he was the pilot or passenger on board the YAK 52.

Simon leaves behind a wife and child.

Paying tribute on Facebook, Karen Anya Williams said: “Sympathy to all. Simon used to entertain our daughter when she was young. Such a tragic accident.”

Chris Ford added: “Just found out who it was. Simon – lovely guy. Thinking of family.”

The identity of another man on board remains undisclosed at this stage.

Simon was believed to be a keen flyer and regular at the North Weald airfield, from where the plane took off.

Several onlookers described seeing the light aircraft perform a somersault-like manoeuvure before the crash.

Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) are still investigating.

A414, Cooksmill Green
29/03/2014 @ 14:55
Incident Number: 5210
In attendance: 2 x Chelmsford, 1 x Colchester, 1 x Maldon

Firefighters are attending an incident involving a light aircraft which has crashed in a field next to the A414 near Cooksmill Green.

Update: Firefighters have now extinguished the fire. On arrival the incident commander reported that the plane was completely alight. Crews used foam and had extinguished the fire by 15:55hrs.

High resolution versions of images can be downloaded from:

It has been confirmed that two people have died as a result of this crash.

Essex Police have issued the following statement:

"Two people have died after a YAK 52 light aircraft was seen to be in difficulties and then crashed into a field off the A414 near Cooksmill Green (between Writtle and Ongar) around 2.55pm today (March 29).

"Emergency services rushed to the scene and fire crews extinguished the fire caused when the plane crashed. Two men, a pilot and his passenger, both from Essex were on board. The plane had flown out from North Weald airfield.

"Investigators from the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB) will be investigating the cause of the crash."

We have no further details about this incident.

Essex County Fire and Rescue Service: