Sons saw father killed in Norfolk air crash ‘fireball’

Mustang crash
Image caption Passenger John Marshall died when the P-51 Mustang crashed in Norfolk

A man’s three sons watched him die after the aircraft he was flown in as a birthday gift hit a tree and burst into a “massive fireball”, an inquest heard.

John Marshall, 84, of Leicestershire, died instantly when the P-51 Mustang crashed near Hardwick Airfield in south Norfolk.

Pilot Maurice Hammond, of Eye, Suffolk, suffered a broken neck and has no memory of the crash on 2 October 2016.

Son Robert Marshall ran to the plane and kept his brothers back.

John, a military aircraft and World War Two airfield enthusiast from Willoughby Waterleys, was at the airfield near Bungay with his sons, who had bought him the flight.

Eldest son Robert said the Mustang “bounced” as it attempted to land on the runway, then banked again and flew off course, inches from the ground.

Its left-hand wheels touched the soil in a ploughed field, then it climbed, but at an angle with the left wing dipped to the ground, he said.

The Mustang’s left wing then hit a tree beyond the airfield and the plane burst into flames.

Image copyright Family photo
Image caption Pilot Maurice Hammond suffered life-changing injuries and has no memory of the crash

“My immediate thought was ‘I’ve got to get dad out’,” Mr Marshall said.

“I jumped on the right wing, which was covered in oil. I took one look at my dad and knew he was instantly killed.”

The jury heard the left wing, engine and propeller had all been ripped from the plane.

Mr Marshall said he and others who rushed to the Mustang tried to help Mr Hammond, 58, who was on fire and slumped forward.

He had suffered a broken neck and was in a coma for several weeks.

His 18-year-old daughter Leah Young worked at the airfield and also witnessed the crash.

The jury was told the plane’s systems and engine were working correctly and Mr Hammond had shown “good judgement” after the plane “bounced”.

Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) investigator Nicholas Dann said: “This was a case of a number of effects that come together to make it very difficult to maintain directional control and at the same time gaining altitude in the space available.”

The jury is expected to return its conclusion on Tuesday.



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