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Stunt pilot dies in Kent as he crashes WWII biplane while flying with aerobatics team

Stunt pilot’s final moments: Witness filmed airman flying with aerobatics team seconds before he ‘lost control’ during ‘stall turn’ trick then slammed into field and died

  • Experienced stunt pilot Angus Buchanan was killed near Headcorn Aerodrome in Kent at 4.30pm yesterday
  • Witnesses described his light pre-World War Two aircraft losing control while performing a stall turn
  • Mr Buchanan was one of four light aircraft flying as part of Stampe formation display team 

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A witness filmed an experienced stunt pilot flying his pre-World War Two biplane just seconds before he lost control of the aircraft and died in an accident.

Video shows Angus Buchanan performing a stall turn in a Stampe biplane over a field near Headcorn Aerodrome in Kent yesterday at around 4.30pm before he crashed to the ground.

The witness, who saw the aircraft plummet at the site between Maidstone and Ashford, said the plane was one of three being flown and added it appeared to ‘have performed a stall turn and lost control’.

Mr Buchanan built and flew light aircraft, and was a member of the Stampe formation display team, an airshow act which performs spectacular 1930s-inspired manouevres at speeds of up to 130mph. 

He is said to have lived with his wife Cecilia for 10 years on a tree-lined country road where homes sell for upwards of £1million, with one neighbour telling the Sun Mr Buchanan was ‘a good man’.

They added: ‘He was a car fanatic and his wife is a ballerina. He built himself an aeroplane sometime ago.’ 

The Stampe formation team paid tribute to Mr Buchanan, saying in a statement uploaded to their website: ‘It is with deepest sadness that we have to announce the death of Angus Buchanan yesterday.

Angus Buchanan

Pictured: Pilot Angus Buchanan has died after a plane crash near Headcorn Aerodrome in Kent

Police say they were called to reports of a plane crash in the field in Kent yesterday afternoon and the air ambulance was dispatched but Mr Buchanan was pronounced dead at the scene

Police say they were called to reports of a plane crash in the field in Kent yesterday afternoon and the air ambulance was dispatched but Mr Buchanan was pronounced dead at the scene

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the plane crash yesterday afternoon

An investigation is underway to determine the cause of the plane crash yesterday afternoon

Pictured: Witnesses described how three plane were flying when one appeared to lose control

Pictured: Witnesses described how three plane were flying when one appeared to lose control

What is a stall turn? 

A stall turn is an aerobatic turn manoeuvre performed by aircrafts.

It sees the aircraft enter a vertical climb at full power and maximum airspeed.

Just before upward motion stops, the aircraft is cartwheeled in a 180 degree spin until it’s nose is facing downward.

It then dives vertically until it reaches the same altitude it started at and exits in the opposite direction. 

‘An active and long-standing display pilot with the Stampe Formation Team, Angus was an extremely experienced and talented aviator and engineer with many flying hours under his belt.

‘We have all lost a very dear friend who leaves a gap in all of our lives that can never be filled and all of our thoughts are now with his family to whom we send our most sincere and deepest condolences.’

The team describes itself as an air show act in the finest traditions of classical barnstorming aviation from the 1930s and 40s.

A formation of four open cockpit, aerobatic biplanes fly at speeds of up to 130mph and turn tightly in close formation in front of a crowd.

The show is said to include ‘exciting formation changes, dynamic breaks and a series of tail chases’.

Friend and former colleague Phil Cosgrove wrote on Facebook: ‘So sad. He was a great pilot and such a nice man, I am so, so sorry to hear such devastating name and my heart and thoughts go out to CB and the children.’

A post on the Headcorn Village Facebook page read: ‘Although individually we didn’t all know Angus Buchanan, collectively we feel we did.

‘We have watched him and his Stampe friends display their skills above our heads for years. The joy they bring is palpable.

‘Our thoughts are with Angus’s family and friends and the entire Aerodrome team.’

Mr Buchanan recalled glueing his fingers to many airfix models before graduating to towing balsa wood aircraft behind his bike.

His profile reads: ‘Having learned to fly at Prestwick, with a long runway and ‘Airport Procedures’, relocation to Headcorn and a chance encounter with the Tiger club was a culture shock.

‘Something went right, leading to purchase of the fabled G-AWEF from the Tiger Club in 2004 – the log book of which is a who’s who of aviation’s good and great, the majority of whom cut their aerobatic teeth in this beautiful machine.’ 

Police and fire crews on scene of the plane crash last night as an investigation was launched

Police and fire crews on scene of the plane crash last night as an investigation was launched

Emergency service workers at the scene of the plane crash which killed Mr Buchanan

Emergency service workers at the scene of the plane crash which killed Mr Buchanan

Two fire engines were sent to the incident along with police and ambulance crews. The air ambulance was also sent to the scene.

A statement from Kent Police said: ‘At 4.25pm on Sunday, May 9, 2021, Kent Police was notified that a light aircraft had crashed in a field near Headcorn.

‘Officers attended along with South East Coast Ambulance Service, Kent Fire and Rescue Service and an air ambulance. A man was pronounced deceased at the scene.

‘Officers are working with partner agencies including the South East Coast Ambulance Service and Kent Fire and Rescue Service to establish the circumstances. The Air Accidents Investigation Branch has been informed.’

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch confirmed an investigation into the crash has begun.

A statement said: ‘We have been notified of an accident involving a light aircraft that occurred near Headcorn Airfield in Kent. A team of inspectors have been sent to commence an investigation.’

Stampe Formation: Team tribute to Angus Buchanan

It is with deepest sadness that we have to announce the death of Angus Buchanan yesterday.

An active and long-standing display pilot with the Stampe Formation Team, Angus was an extremely experienced and talented aviator and engineer with many flying hours under his belt.

We have all lost a very dear friend who leaves a gap in all of our lives that can never be filled and all of our thoughts are now with his family to whom we send our most sincere and deepest condolences.

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