An experienced aerobatics pilot who died when his plane crashed at a Norfolk airfield may have been ‘incapacitated by an undiagnosed heart condition’, a report has revealed.
David Jenkins, 61, of Stanton, died when his Edge 360 plane crashed at Old Buckenham airfield on April 22 last year.
The Wildcat Aerobatics display team member had been performing a series of aerobatic manoeuvres at a closed press day to promote a forthcoming air show.
An Air Accidents Investigation Branch report into the incident said there was no mechanical fault with the aircraft.
However, Mr Jenkins was found to be suffering from a ‘serious and previously undiagnosed heart condition’.
As a result Mr Jenkins may have become ‘incapacitated at a critical stage of the flight to the extent he was unable to recognise the rapidly deteriorating situation or respond correctly to it’.
The report notes that Mr Jenkins’ aircraft ‘failed to recover correctly from a gyroscopic tumbling manoeuvre and inadvertently entered a spin’.
He ‘made no apparent attempt to recover from the spin and suffered fatal injuries in the ground impact’.
As well as his heart condition, investigators say a number of other factors could have contributed to the failed manoeuvre including ‘limited recent aerobatic practice and the use of a new or improvised aerobatic sequence’.
The report adds: “The pilot entered the manoeuvre at a lower height and speed than usual, which not only contributed to the failure of the manoeuvre but also greatly reduced the time and height available for any possible recovery.”
Mr Jenkins began competition aerobatic flying in 2004 and was the British Aerobatics Advanced Champion in 2012 and 2013.
He also represented Great Britain as a member of the British team at both European and World Aerobatic Championships.
In 2012 the team achieved fourth place, just behind the USA, France and Russia.
He joined Wildcat Aerobatics in 2013.
At the time of his death, his wife Elaine said: “David was, put simply, amongst the very best of men.
“It is with great sadness that we wish a husband, a father, a son, a brother and a friend fair winds and blue skies.”