HARDWICK PLANE CRASH: Investigation into accident could take “some months”

The WW2 P-51D Mustang fighter plane close to the former RAF Hardwick base in Topcroft, Norfolk on Sunday 02/10/16. ANL-160310-101507001
The WW2 P-51D Mustang fighter plane close to the former RAF Hardwick base in Topcroft, Norfolk on Sunday 02/10/16. ANL-160310-101507001

The investigation into the plane crash in Hardwick on Sunday could take some months, according to the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).

An 80-year-old passenger who has not yet been named died in the accident, close to the former base on Sunday afternoon, while pilot Maruice Hammond, from Eye, is being cared for at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital.

Today (Wednesday) we are planning for the wreckage to be brought to our facility in Farnborough, where more detailed examination of the wreckage will be carried out

AAIB spokesperson

A spokesperson for the AAIB said investigators arrived at the site on Sunday, when they began the process of gathering evidence.

“Today (Wednesday) we are planning for the wreckage to be brought to our facility in Farnborough, where more detailed examination of the wreckage will be carried out.

“The other aspects of our investigations include talking to witnesses and looking at available data such as weather conditions and radar tracks where available.

“When our investigation concludes, we will publish a report which will be published on our website.”

It involved Mr Hammond’s P-51D Mustang. Named Janie, is it among a fleet of vintage planes he owned.

Collectively called Hardwick Warbirds, the fleet includes two Mustangs, one Texan one Auster and a Stearman.

They were all built in the 1940s during the Second World War. Janie was one of a batch of ten planes constructed by North American Aviation in Dallas, Texas, in 1945.

It was shipped to New Zealand in August that year and based at Hobsonville, in Auckland, where it was used by the New Zealand airforce until 1955.

Mr Hammond bought the plane in 1997 and brought it back to the UK for a complete restoration, which took four and a half years. Its first flight in civilian operation took place in July 2001.

The Mustang, a vintage model from the Second World War, is thought to have been valued between £1 million and £1.5 million.