8:00am Tuesday 24th April 2012
By Mark Foster
TWO Army pilots from North Yorkshire died when their helicopter crashed into power lines during a training exercise.
Their Army Air Corps Squirrel was travelling fast at treetop level when it hit the cables in May, 2008.
Witnesses reported a huge bang and large white flashes before a plume of smoke appeared from the valley where the accident happened.
Lieutenant Mark Reynolds, 24, a former head boy at Ampleforth College, near Helmsley, and a graduate of Durham University, was being taught how to fly the aircraft by Warrant Officer 2 Vince Hussell, 36, a father-of-three from Martonle- Moor, near Ripon, They were on the final day of a training course at 670 Army Air Corps Squadron based at Middle Wallop, Hampshire, when the tragedy happened at Kingscott, near Torrington, Devon.
W02 Hussell – a veteran pilot with more than 2,000 hours of experience – was declared dead at the scene while Lt Reynolds, from Aslockton, near Nottingham, was airlifted to hospital but died later. Post-mortem examinations found that both died from multiple injuries.
Student Henry Lamb was at home revising for his GCSEs when he heard helicopters flying near his home. The weather was hazy and drizzly when he saw two Squirrel helicopters flying by.
“They were fairly close together.
As they went over I was surprised at how low and fast they appeared to be going,” he told the Exeter inquest.
Twenty minutes later he saw two Squirrel helicopters again flying over the valley.
“One of the helicopters was at tree height from where I was looking. As it dropped down the valley it appeared to dodge around something. The helicopter seemed to have been forced down into the bottom of the valley, he said.
“At this point the helicopter went out of my sight for a brief few seconds and then reappeared and it was pitched upwards at a 45-degree angle.”
He heard a loud bang then saw three bright flashes along the power lines as simultaneously power was lost to his home.
“I could see smoke coming up from the valley and it also made me realise that something had gone wrong,” he said.
Farmer Paul Herniman said he heard a popping sound and then, a minute or two later, a loud bang.
“I could see a double power pole, which holds the power lines, leaning over and I could see the power lines drooping, clearly damaged,” he told the hearing.
The inquest continues.
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