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Wednesday, 3 April, 2002, 23:34 GMT 00:34 UK
'Lack of speed' caused air crash
The plane crash
The aircraft exploded in a ball of flames
The pilot of a World War Two fighter plane may have crashed at an airshow because he was not flying fast enough to complete an aerial loop, according to the official accident report.

Guy Bancroft-Wilson, an experienced aerobatic display pilot, was killed after losing control and crashing nose first into the ground on 3 June last year.

The accident happened in front of 50,000 people at the annual Biggin Hill airfield show in Kent.

It was the second fatal accident at the 2001 show - two men had died during a display the previous day.

The report from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said that Mr Bancroft-Wilson had lost control of his American King Cobra aircraft earlier in the display.

Bell King Cobra
The crashed aircraft was one of more than 3,000 built

He recovered but then lost control again and crashed.

After the earlier loss of control, the report said, it was "difficult to understand why the pilot, who was experienced and practised in the display environment, continued with his display".

It stated: "Analysis of the aircraft speeds from video footage showed that the final manoeuvre was probably entered with insufficient speed for it to be completed successfully.

"The lack of speed was most likely evidence of a continuing loss of energy during the display, partially as a consequence of the earlier failed manoeuvre."

Red Arrows

Mr Bancroft-Wilson was a 43-year-old British Airways (BA) captain from Crawley, West Sussex.

He was based at Gatwick Airport and flew Boeing 737 and 757 aircraft.

Before joining BA he was in the RAF and had been a member of the Red Arrows display team.

The 1944 King Cobra was taking part in a display with two other American World War Two fighters.

The previous day two men had died when their De Havilland Vampire plane crashed during a display.

They were named as Sir Ken Hayr, a former deputy chief of defence staff, from Warwickshire, and Jonathan Kerr from Bournemouth.

The AAIB has not yet published its report into that accident.

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See also:

03 Jun 01 | UK
Timeline: Air show crashes
02 Jun 01 | UK
Two die at air show
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