Pilot who crashed his plane near Old Buckenham airfield, near Attleborough, not fit to be flying, inquest told

A pilot whose light aircraft crashed and burst into flames near a south Norfolk airfield was physically and mentally unfit to fly on the day of his fatal accident, an inquest heard.

Pavel Sedlacek, 66, died from multiple injuries after his aircraft crashed nose-down into a field at Puddleduck Farm on his way to Old Buckenham Airfield on May 9 last year where maintenance work on his Mooney M20B aircraft was scheduled to take place.

The Czech Republic national, who lived in Dornbirn, Austria, left Biberach Airport, in southern Germany, in the early afternoon, on May 9. After requesting airfield details from Old Buckenham, he landed unexpectedly at Tibenham Airfield, at about 5.30pm, where he was seen to be in a 'disturbed' state.

David Cross told the inquest that he was tending his sheep at a nearby farm, at about 6pm, when he saw the aircraft flying overhead, seconds before it crashed.

He said: 'It was approaching very low. It went over the farmyard and the pilot went to throttle the engine up, then the plane stalled. It disappeared behind trees and then I saw a puff of smoke.'

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Mr Cross rushed to the scene but the plane had burst into flames and Mr Sedlacek was pronounced dead at the scene.

Philip Morgan, ground manager at Tibenham airfield, said Mr Sedlacek landed the plane on the wrong runway and came in very fast, bouncing about five times. He said: 'When he got out the plane he was very hot and sweaty. He said the brakes did not appear to be working and he was also talking about family problems. He appeared to be in a disturbed state, and we advised him not to fly on to Old Buckenham airfield, but we could not stop him.'

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John McMillan, a senior inspector with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch, said the plane had no technical defects. But his fellow inspector Kenneth Fairbank said that, judging by Mr Sedlacek's airmanship on the day and reports of his flying skills from Germany, it was doubtful that he was in a fit state to be flying an aircraft on that day.

Recording a verdict of accidental death at yesterday's Norwich inquest, Norfolk coroner William Armstrong said: 'Clearly from the expert evidence given, his flying ability and standard of airmanship appear to have been questionable.

'We do not know what he was intending, but all evidence points towards him not being fit to be flying on that day, whether through competence, or more likely, through his psychological state of mind.'


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