Page last updated at 17:28 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 18:28 UK

Death of student pilot accidental

The remains of the Cessna (Picture: Andy Gordon - BBC Essex)
The Cessna came down in Eastwood Park, Southend

The death of a 16-year-old pilot killed in a plane crash was an accident, an inquest jury has decided.

Sam Cross, 16, of Hornchurch, Essex, died when his single-engine aircraft spiralled into a park in Southend, Essex, in July 2006.

The teenage student pilot crashed after being told to abort a landing as he approached a runway, the jury heard.

Air traffic controller Steve Lane said he had asked Sam, flying solo, to abort as a faster plane was arriving.

The jury decided the tragedy happened after Sam received this "unexpected" instruction.

The verdict, read out by Coroner Peter Dean, said: "Sam Cross sustained fatal injuries at approximately 1621 BST on 19 July 2006 when the aircraft he was flying on his second solo flight crashed into Eastwood Park.

Confusing instructions

"This was after receiving an unexpected command from air traffic control due to faster incoming traffic."

Air traffic controller Steve Lane said it "would have been an entirely different decision-making process" had he known of Sam's limited flying experience.

"I would have been extremely reluctant to deviate the Cessna from what he expected to do," he said.

The inquest heard that Sam had 15 hours' flying experience and was not trained in the manoeuvre he was asked to complete.

Brian Andrews, who was chief flying instructor at Seawing Flying Club when Sam was a member, said the teenager would have been puzzled by the instruction.

"He would have found that very confusing at that stage," he said.

Guidelines were changed following the incident and all pilots now have to inform air traffic control if they are students, the inquest heard.

After the hearing, Sam's grandmother, June Fen, 66, of Canvey Island, Essex, said she had not wanted him to fly at such a young age.

"I begged Sam not to do it but he had always wanted to fly," she said.

"It's too young to fly at 16 - you can't even drive at that age."

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