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Saturday, 20 December 2014

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Error of judgement cost Cumbrian pilot his life

AN error of judgement caused an experienced pilot to crash his plane into an Italian mountain.

Alan Tyson, from Penrith, died when his Beechcraft Baron B58 light aircraft hit the side of Mount Mindino, 45 miles from Albenga, on June 16 last year.

The accomplished pilot’s friends and family challenged the findings of an investigation by Italian police, who claimed that despite heavy fog the 52-year-old was not using any of his on-board instruments.

Nigel Meek, who co-owned the plane and flew with Mr Tyson for 20 years, told an inquest it was unthinkable his friend was ignoring his instruments, but admitted nobody will ever know why he flew into the cloud bank.

He added: “What is very difficult to explain is how he found himself at that altitude in those conditions.

“It was the error of judgement.”

Divorcee Mr Tyson, who was a director of the Belgravia-based Bonanza Flying Club, was on a short holiday and was scheduled to leave Albenga on the Italian Riviera at 11.30am to fly to Troyes-Barberey airport, near Paris, but thick fog delayed his take-off by four minutes.

His last radio transmission cut out at 11.49am and police believe that because visibility was less than 98ft (30m) Mr Tyson did not see the mountain until it was too late, hitting its eastern face at an altitude around 5,790ft (1,765m) at a speed of 150 knots.

Police were alerted to the crash at around midday and found Mr Tyson’s body in the wreckage, identifying him by his passport and pilot’s licence.

Recording a verdict of accidental death, Berkshire coroner Peter Bedford paid tribute to the pilot, who was described as “very intelligent, thoughtful, sturdy and unflappable” by his friends.

He said: “Alan was in good health and positive mind. The circumstance of Alan’s tragic death is an accident.”

Mr Tyson was the son of the late Eleanor and Norman Tyson, of Carleton Drive, Penrith. He had friends and relatives in both the Keswick and Penrith areas but was living near Reading.

He attended the Boys’ National School and Queen Elizabeth Grammar School, Penrith, before going to university at Loughborough to study electronics, despite an offer from Oxford.

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