Page last updated at 16:59 GMT, Wednesday, 18 February 2009

Fatal flights were a minute apart

lters [L] and Katie-Jo Davies
Nikkita Walters [L] and Katie-Jo Davies were on a flight experience exercise

An inquest on two air cadets and two pilots whose aircraft collided mid-air has heard that they were on flights that took off a minute apart.

Nikkita Walters, 13, her cousin Katie-Jo Davies, 14, and pilots Hylton Price, 63, and Andrew Marsh, 24 were killed over Porthcawl, in Bridgend county.

The hearing at Bridgend was told the flights were heading west when they had a "catastrophic" collision.

The hearing was adjourned for further inquiries and for funeral services.

Both girls, from Evanstown, near Gilfach Goch, were cadets of 1004 Air Training Corps squadron based at Pontypridd.

Flying Officer Price was from Bridgend, and Flt Lt Marsh was from Penarth, Vale of Glamorgan.

Sand dunes

The inquest hearing was told the two cadets were on a flight experience exercise.

South Wales Police Det Chief Insp Paul Hurley, the investigation's senior officer, said the girls went up in the first flights of the day.

One plane, captained by Flying Officer Price, took off at 1036 GMT and the other, piloted by Flt Lt Marsh, took off a minute later.

DCI Hurley said investigators knew that at just before 1100 GMT the visibility was in excess of 10 km (six miles).

He said what happened next was an air collision of catastrophic proportions and both planes came down in the sand dunes at Kenfig Nature Reserve.

Wreckage was found at two separate sites, the hearing was told.

Peter Maddox, coroner for Bridgend and Glamorgan valleys, adjourned the hearing for further inquiries to take place. He also released the bodies for funeral services.

Investigations involving the police, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) and an RAF service inquiry are continuing into the crash.

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