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Last Updated: Tuesday, 29 June, 2004, 16:03 GMT 17:03 UK
Parachute record holder in crash
Plane crash with Major Mike Wills
Major Mike Wills died in the plane crash
A parachute record holder was one of four people who died after a plane crashed on Sunday, it has emerged.

Royal Marine Major Mike Wills, 44, was on board the aircraft from the Devon and Somerset Parachute School which nosedived into a field near Honiton.

Devon and Cornwall Police have also named the other three victims.

Pilot Paul Norman, 53, from Salisbury, Wiltshire; Richard Smith, 42, and his daughter, Claire Smith, 17, both from Winkleigh, Devon, also died.

He was an experienced tandem instructor who had completed thousands of jumps.
Statement from Major Mike Wills' family

Six people were on board the Cessna 206 single-engine aircraft which crashed at about 1800 BST on Sunday.

Moments before the crash, the plane flew low over a nearby house before making the final three miles back to Dunkeswell Airfield.

The plane almost broke in half as it crash-landed and ended up with its nose buried in the ground and the middle of its fuselage broken.

The two other people on board, a 23-year-old man from Taunton, Somerset, and a 16-year-old youth from Kingsteignton, south Devon, are in a critical condition in hospital.

Efforts to move the wreckage from the scene of the crash started on Tuesday afternoon.

The debris may be taken to the Air Accidents Investigation Branch in Farnborough for further examination.

Family tribute

Major Wills, from Tiverton, Devon, survived the crash but later died in hospital.

His family paid tribute to him, saying: "His love of parachuting started when, as a child, he would watch the army parachuting over Hankley Common near his home.

"The Royal Marines and parachuting were Michael's life and he died doing what he loved most.

"He was an experienced tandem instructor who had completed thousands of jumps - many of which were to raise money for charity.

"He was a member of the world record-holding Royal Marines Freefall Parachute Team.

"He had completed many UN missions and had recently returned from a six-month tour of Sierra Leone."

In a statement, the Royal Marines said: "Mike Wills was very well respected and was liked by all ranks who had the pleasure of working with or for him."

The BBC's Janine Jensen
"There was a spluttering engine before it crashed"

Plane crash dead to be named
29 Jun 04  |  Devon

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