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Tuesday, November 2, 1999 Published at 17:54 GMT


Model plane death 'an accident'

The Phoenix Model Flying Club has been going for 17 years

An 11-year-old boy who died when he was hit by an out-of-control model aeroplane was killed accidentally, an inquest has ruled.

The plane struck Adam Kirby on the back of his head killing him almost instantly, the inquest jury at St Alban's Magistrates' Court heard.

West Hertfordshire coroner Edward Thomas directed the jury to return a verdict of accidental death.

He added that he would be writing to the Civil Aviation Authority and the flying club involved on the matter.

"What comes out is that it is very important that all flying clubs particularly observe the rules and recommendations of the British Model Flying Association," he said.


"This is a dreadful tragedy and it is important that no family must have to suffer anything like it and anything to prevent future fatalities must be attempted."

Speaking on behalf of the family, Ian Cashmore said: "The verdict is not a surprise. The coroner had no option, but it does not mean that what happened to Adam on that day was actually an accident."

He said the family was considering the possibility of taking further legal action.

Earlier, Adam's father Alan had fought back tears as he told how his 11-year-old son was killed when a model aeroplane veered out of control.

Adam had been excited at the prospect of flying at Phoenix Model Flying Club in Colney Heath, Hertfordshire, for the first time, he said.

But as they stood in a crowd watching a man trying to start his model aircraft in the pit area, a plane flew into the crowd and struck several people on the legs before hitting Adam, of Watford, Hertfordshire.

The plane's controller, Graham Reid, said he had shouted out when he realised he had lost control, but his voice was drowned in the noise of the engine.

Warning shouts

Mr Reid, a former chief flying instructor at the club, said he had lost control of his model plane seconds after it took off.

He said: "I recognised that the aeroplane wasn't responding to my transmitter and immediately shouted warnings.

"Within probably 20 seconds the aeroplane had turned 270 degrees by itself and ended up crashing into the front end of the pits.

The inquest, at St Albans, Hertfordshire, also heard of flaws in the club's "reverse peg" system, used to prevent collisions by monitoring who was flying their plane on which radio frequency.

All users were supposed to mark their frequency using a clothes peg labelled with their name and the frequency, but the inquest heard that on the day, Mr Reid and another flyer, Timothy Jenkinson, were both using frequency 67 with unmarked pegs.

Both men told the inquest they had taken precautions to make sure that their planes were not both in the sky at the same time.

Mr Jenkinson said when questioned that he had switched off his radio transmitter before Mr Reid began the fatal flight.

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