Plane crashed near family

A couple told yesterday how a plane crashed only yards from where they had been playing with their eight-month-old baby.

A couple told yesterday how a plane crashed only yards from where they had been playing with their eight-month-old baby.

Mark Robinson, 33, and his partner, Katie Childs, 38, had only been indoors about 30 minutes when they heard the engine of an aircraft stop, followed seconds later by a loud bang.

Mr Robinson dashed outside, saw the plane had crashed the other side of their garden fence, at Hoxne, near Eye. He went indoors to dial 999 and get a fire extinguisher, but by the time he got to the plane it was engulfed in flames.

The pilot, Steve Cowham, 40, from nearby Fressingfield, died in Sunday's crash, which happened just before 3pm and was witnessed by his wife, Joanne, and children, Shannon and Callum.

Mr Robinson said the dust was still in the air when he reached the aircraft, a Slingsby T67 aerobatics trainer, and he could see that the pilot was dead.

"Only a short time before we had been sitting a few yards away with our baby, Meg," he added.

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Mr Cowham, who ran a successful garage business, had been providing a surprise aerobatics display to mark the retirement of family friend Alan Smith, 59, a partner with Diss-based auctioneers Gaze & Son, who lives in Low Street, Hoxne.

"It was just after he had completed a loop that he went into free fall.

"Everyone prayed that he would somehow pull out of it but then we heard a crash - it was thankfully just out of sight behind some trees - and then a pall of smoke came up," said Mr Smith.

"Steve was a wonderful man - always living life to the full.

"He would never take risks. He was a very accomplished pilot, a very sensible flyer."

Accident investigators yesterday continued their examination of the crash scene.