[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Sunday, 13 July, 2003, 09:22 GMT 10:22 UK
Air show deaths inquiry starts
Crash scene

The Ministry of Defence has started an investigation after two men were killed when an historic aeroplane crashed at an air show.

Lieutenant Commander Bill Murton, 45, and Neil Rix, 29, were crewing the Fairey Firefly vintage naval aircraft when it came down near the Duxford airfield in Cambridgeshire, on the eastern side of the M11 at about 1430 BST on Saturday.

The aircraft was taking part in the Flying Legends Air Show at Duxford's Imperial War Museum, near Cambridge, when it went into a nosedive from which it never recovered.

Mr Murton, who was married with three children and lived in Somerset, was the Commanding Officer of 727 Squadron based at Roborough, Plymouth, Devon.

He had served in the Royal Navy for 21 years and was an experienced pilot who had been flying with the Royal Naval Historic Flight for three years.

The aircraft goes into a nosedive
Bill was a wonderful man, a fine naval aviator who lived for flying
Commodore Bill Covington

The Firefly was part of a fleet of vintage military aircraft based at the Royal Naval Air Station Yeovilton, Somerset.

Commodore Bill Covington, the commanding officer of RNAS Yeovilton, said: "Bill was a most experienced and respected naval pilot with well over 5,000 hours flying time to his credit.

"He was a wonderful man, a fine naval aviator who lived for flying. All of us are devastated by his death. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends."

Mr Rix was aircraft fitter with the Royal Naval Historic Flight (RNHF) and was unmarried.

Commander Bryan Wood, the manager of the Flight, said: "Neil loved aircraft and flying and was particularly proud to be associated with the Firefly.

"He was a most popular member of the Flight and our thoughts are with his family and friends at this sad time."

Ted Inman, the director of the Duxford site, said carrying on with the show was the "right decision".

Explaining it was a "difficult call", Mr Inman said: "Initially there was a pause because our emergency cover was away at the accident.

"We had time to consider whether to continue with the show and on balance we felt that it was appropriate to do so when emergency cover was restored to the right level."

Mr Inman maintained that Duxford's accident record since it started hosting air displays in 1973 was "very good" and that Civil Aviation Authority guidelines were followed at all times.

"All the manoeuvres are geared above all to safety of the crowds and today's tragic events took place a long long way from the crowd," he added.

Air accident investigators this week called for a safety review at Duxford after a fatal jet crash on the nearby M11 motorway in June last year.

On that occasion, a privately-owned former Soviet air force L-39 military jet trainer came to rest on the motorway after going through the boundary fence at Duxford.

The BBC's John McIntyre
"Thousands of spectators watched in horror"

Two dead as air show plane crashes
13 Jul 03  |  Cambridgeshire
History of airfield crashes
12 Jul 03  |  Cambridgeshire
In pictures: Duxford crash
12 Jul 03  |  Photo Gallery
Historic aircraft on display
06 Jul 03  |  Cambridgeshire
Duxford safety review urged
10 Jul 03  |  Cambridgeshire
Motorway reopened after jet crash
03 Jun 02  |  England

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific