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Tuesday, August 25, 1998 Published at 18:22 GMT 19:22 UK


UK

Noel Edmonds' charity helicopter 'overloaded'

Noel Edmonds' Airborne Trust: "First accident"

A nine-year-old boy killed during a helicopter flight organised by Noel Edmonds' Airborne Trust was in the wrong helicopter, a fatal accident inquiry has heard.

The inquiry was told that an administration error meant too many passengers were on board the Kwik Fit-owned Bell Jet Ranger helicopter when it crashed in Scotland.

Garry Malley, aged 9, was the only person killed in the accident at an event for 350 children with special needs at Glamis Castle, in Angus, on 13 July last year.

Garry's mother, Sandra Malley, left the room as his injuries, caused by being crushed under the helicopter, were described to the inquiry.

Operations manager with Forth and Clyde Helicopters, Anthony Poklekowski, said: "I didn't know how many people had been allocated to the flight because I didn't have the passenger manifestoes.

"I spoke to my handlers after the event and they told me they had loaded four passengers."

The inquiry was told by a witness that the extra person was taken on board after a request was lodged with the pilot, who agreed.

An Airborne Trust employee denied the claim and said Mr Poklekowski had received the passenger lists by fax several days before the event.

The inquiry also heard how the pilot, Robert Hobson, had encountered demisting problems caused by heavy rain.

He was seen wiping the helicopter's windows with a cloth shortly before take-off and complained by radio that he was having problems with visibility.


[ image: Bell Jet Ranger helicopter:
Bell Jet Ranger helicopter: "Misting problem"
Fellow pilot Paul Smith, also flying at Glamis that day, said the Bell Jet Ranger helicopter was notorious for misting.

"It has the worst type of de-misting system I have come across," he said.

Giving evidence to the inquiry, passenger Mr Alan Patrick said: "I noticed that the rear windows of the helicopter were misted up.

"Seconds into the flight I felt that the pilot was flying a bit of dare-devil stuff.

"Then I got the impression he was trying to come down and on the second occasion he veered away violently because he was close to hitting a tree.

"A minute later we came down again and it just went haywire.

"The helicopter came into contact with something and we were thrown across the ground and there was a great roar as we skidded and bounced across the ground."

Mr Hobson was charged last year with contravening air traffic regulations, but acquitted in May 1998 after it was ruled there was no case to answer.

Police believe the helicopter may have clipped a wire fence near the scene of the accident.

The Airborne Trust has cancelled all flights until it has the inquiry's findings.

It had previously held 28 events for more than 6,500 children without any accidents.

The inquiry at Forfar Sheriff Court, in Angus, continues.



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