Page last updated at 16:32 GMT, Monday, 7 April 2008 17:32 UK

Probe under way on mountain crash

Aircraft wreckage (Pic: RAF)
The wreckage of the aircraft on Cairn Gorm

An investigation has started into why a light aircraft crashed near the top station of the Cairngorm funicular railway.

The local mountain rescue team found the wreckage of the missing Piper Saratoga on Cairn Gorm, about half a mile (1km) from the railway.

RAF spokesman Michael Mulford said the weather had been horrendous.

A police spokesman said one person was found in the wreckage and officers had contacted the pilot's next of kin.

This is not where you want to be at all
Michael Mulford
RAF spokesman

Conditions were similar to those when rescue teams searched for the dead pilots of two US F-15C fighter jets which crashed in the Cairngorms in 2001.

Mr Mulford said: "The rescuers tell us they haven't seen this since we searched for two American aircraft on Ben Macdui several years ago - driving snow, absolute whiteout, very, very low temperatures of -20 in places.

"This is not where you want to be at all."

Experts from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch arrived in the area on Monday to begin their probe.

The plane, which only had the pilot on board, set off from Carlisle at about 0900 BST on Saturday but it is believed its journey began in Staffordshire.

It is thought the aircraft set off on Friday from Wolverhampton Halfpenny Green airport before refuelling in Carlisle on its way to Wick.

The alarm was raised just before lunchtime on Saturday when the pilot of the single propeller aircraft lost contact with air traffic control as he flew over the Cairngorms.

Two rescue helicopters and three mountain rescue teams were involved in the search.

A full report will be submitted to the procurator fiscal in Inverness.

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The pilot was killed in the crash

Light plane missing in blizzard
05 Apr 08 |  Highlands and Islands

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