Page last updated at 22:48 GMT, Sunday, 30 March 2008 23:48 UK

Residents tell of how jet crashed

by Sue Nicholson
BBC News, Farnborough

House on fire
The crash destroyed a house, but its occupants were away on holiday

None of the five people on board a small plane which crashed into a housing estate survived but it is being hailed as a "miracle" that nobody on the ground was killed or seriously injured. But what was the experience like for those who lived in the quiet estate in Farnborough, Kent?

It was a warm sunny afternoon, fittingly marking the beginning of British summertime, and the residents of Farnborough were enjoying a relaxing Sunday afternoon.

But then the peaceful idyll was shattered as a Cessna Citation 1 jet came down in Romsey Close, destroying a house and garage in the cul-de-sac.

'Almighty roar'

Matthew Wincott, 37, who lives opposite in Broadwater Gardens, was just finishing lunch when he heard "an almighty roar" which prompted him to look out of the window of his house.

Matthew Wincott
Matthew Wincott said he could feel the heat from the blazing plane

"I saw this stunning jet coming into view - it was banking slightly and the wheels were definitely up.

"I ran out of the front of the house. It just hit the ground and burst into flames."

The chartered civil engineer described the scene that met him as "absolute carnage".

"There were some pretty scared people running around," he said.

Plummeted to ground

Barrie Harwood, 49, was in a corridor on the second floor of the nearby Princess Royal University Hospital, waiting for his mother and chatting to a nurse, when he looked out of the window and saw the aircraft heading towards the building.

"It sounded just like a football rattle," he said

"The pilot made a distinct effort to turn, whether that was a conscious effort to avoid the hospital or buildings, I don't suppose we'll ever know, but it banked and just plummeted to the ground.

"It just disappeared between a line of trees and there was an almighty explosion.

Firefighters working at the crash scene.
Firefighters will begin work to recover the bodies on Monday.

"My gut feeling was that he [the pilot] knew he wasn't going to make it, and was aiming for fields."

Mr Harwood, a press photographer, said the smoke from the explosion was very dense, and the sky just went black.

"It was as if night was coming, but only on half the sky - it was black like you'd never seen it before."

Orange fireball

The smell of aviation fuel and smoke was still apparent several hours after the crash, as residents and onlookers huddled together by the police cordon, with smoke still clearly visible.

One couple, Tony and Jackie Kelleher, had just returned from a weekend away in Jersey and were trying to get back to their home in nearby Paddock Close.

It was too low, and I saw the pilot trying to pull up over the trees. I was really scared
Gary Wallcraft

"We were driving on the motorway and we heard that a plane had crashed... we obviously didn't know where it had landed... we thought it could've been our house, and the first thing we did was phone one of our neighbours."

Another resident, Tim Collison, 25, said he had been watching television when he heard a "loud whooshing noise", followed by a big explosion and an orange fireball.

He said it was clear the pilot of the twin engine jet had been trying to avoid the residential area.

Gary Wallcraft, 16, was playing football in a nearby field when he noticed something different about the plane.

"It was too low, and I saw the pilot trying to pull up over the trees. I was really scared."

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