9 January 2002

Man dies in fall from aircraft

By Stewart Payne

A man fell 5,000ft to his death from a light aircraft whose female pilot then made an emergency landing at an RAF base yesterday.

The man, aged 42, plunged on to a football pitch near Fifield, Oxfordshire. Last night police were interviewing the "extremely shocked" pilot, who landed at nearby RAF Brize Norton.

A witness reported that she saw the plane circling several times before seeing a man fall out of the side door. One theory is that the man may have been taking photographs.

Thames Valley police, the MoD and the Civil Aviation Authority are investigating the incident. A spokesman for the CAA said the two-seater Cessna 172 had been en route from France to Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Northants, when the pilot asked for and was given permission to divert because of ice on the wings.

"However, 10 miles out she radioed that a man had opened a door of the plane and jumped out," he said. The body was recovered by police an hour later.