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Last Updated: Saturday, 22 October 2005, 15:52 GMT 16:52 UK
Two dead in light aircraft crash
Scene of the light aircraft crash in Biggin Hill - picture sent in by K Taylor
Police praised the instructor for avoiding hitting any houses
Two men died when their light aircraft crashed in a street near Biggin Hill airport, narrowly missing homes.

The pilot radioed ahead to say there was a problem before losing control of the Piper Tomahawk, which crashed in Victoria Gardens, Kent, on Saturday.

He and a pupil died after the engine apparently cut out - it is thought the pilot was heading for a nearby field.

Residents described hearing "a really big bang" before seeing the wreckage in the road outside their homes.

It could have landed in my house
Shirley Petrucci

The accident happened at about 0930 BST, shortly after the plane had taken off from Biggin Hill.

The scene was cordoned off immediately and foam was put down to prevent any explosion caused by the aviation fuel.

Shirley Petrucci, 39, heard a bang and opened her front door to see the plane about 50 yards from her home.

"It wasn't until I sat down about an hour later that I realised that could have landed in my house," she said.

Asked how she felt, she said: "Bloody lucky."

Map showing scene of crash

Debbie Whalley, 24, who also lives in the road said she had carried on with her ironing after hearing the crash.

It was only when she heard sirens that she looked outside her home.

"It could have been our house," she said. "I was just thinking, those poor people, their families, they said goodbye this morning and now they're not here."

Sgt John Feeney, of the Metropolitan Police, praised the instructor, a pilot with 20 years' experience, for managing to avoid hitting any houses.

"From the way it landed we believe it spiralled down, giving the pilot very few options," he said.

"Credit to him, he's been able to land there rather than collide with houses."

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) has sent a team to the scene for an initial assessment. The wreckage will be taken to Farnborough for analysis.




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