Page last updated at 13:19 GMT, Thursday, 7 January 2010

Pilots in Welsh air crash 'did not see each other'

Cousins Katie-Jo Davies and Nikkita Marie Walters [top right] ,Andrew Marsh and Hylton Price (bottom right)
Clockwise, from top left: Katie-Jo Davies, Nikkita Walters, Hylton Price, and Andrew Marsh

The pilots of two light aircraft which collided over south Wales did not see each other "until it was too late" an inquiry has found.

Hylton Price and Andrew Marsh and two Air Training Corps cadets died in the mid-air collision near Bridgend.

Cousins Nikkita Marie Walters, 13, and Katie-Jo Davies, 14, were on RAF "air experience" flights when their two light aircraft collided.

A Ministry of Defence report makes 29 recommendations following the accident.

The aircraft came down on land close to the Kenfig nature reserve in February last year.

The teenage cadets who died were both from Evanstown, near Gilfach Goch, and were pupils at Tonyrefail Comprehensive, in Rhondda Cynon Taf.

They had been undertaking air experience flights, aimed at giving cadets "the thrill of powered flight" under the guidance of experienced pilots.

Our deepest sympathies remain with their families and friends
Bill Rammell, Armed Forces Minister

The aircraft had flown from their base about 20 miles (32km) away at RAF St Athan in the Vale of Glamorgan on what was supposed to be a routine 20-minute sortie.

But eyewitnesses reported seeing the two planes collide and an explosion, before both aircraft crashed to the ground at about 1100 GMT on 11 February.

Pilots Hylton Price, from Bridgend, and Andrew Marsh, from Vale of Glamorgan, were also killed.

Making the inquiry findings public, the Armed Forces minister Bill Rammell told the House of Commons in a statement that the report set out to learn lessons from the accident.

"The service inquiry panel concluded that the cause of the accident was the controlled flight of both aircraft into the same airspace at the same time," said the minister.

"Either the pilots did not see each other, or they did not do so until it was too late.

Crash scene
Wreckage and debris were strewn across half a mile near Porthcawl

"Tragically this crash resulted in the deaths of two air cadets, 14-year-old Katie-Jo Davies and her cousin 13-year-old Nikkita Walters, a volunteer reserve pilot Fg Off Hylton Price (Wg Cdr Retd), and Flt Lt Andrew Marsh.

"Our deepest sympathies remain with their families and friends. I know that the RAF community was deeply saddened and shocked by this terrible accident."

The inquiry's main recommendation is the introduction of collision warning systems on RAF tutor aircraft, adding it would "make the single greatest contribution" to preventing a repeat of the tragedy.

The service inquiry panel report also highlights issues with visibility in the Grob Tutor plane cockpits.

It calls for current planes of this type are modified to improve the field of view, and that in future, the issue of cockpit visibility is carefully considered when obtaining new planes.

Map of crash area
The crash scene was close to the M4 motorway

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Mail Online UK Teenage girl pilots killed in mid-air crash 'did not see each other's planes' - 19 hrs ago

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