Poor visibility likely cause of Skipness coast air crash

The Piper PA-28R-201 Cherokee Arrow III, G-CEOF.

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A pair of charity fundraisers from Surrey, who had just climbed Ben Nevis, died when their Piper Cherokee plane crashed into the sea.

Pilot Tony Woodward, 62, and his passenger Robert Archer, 57, were returning to Carlisle airport from Oban, after a sponsored walk for Shooting Star Chase, when the aircraft call sign, G-CEOF, plunged into the sea on May 25 last year.

Concerns were raised about the whereabouts of the plane at 11.15am that day.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) report published last week has given the likely causes of the crash.

The AAIB report said:  ‘A radar replay from National Air Traffic Services (NATS) identified a target, believed to be G-CEOF, which faded from the radar at 10.50am when it was approximately two miles north-east of Skipness.’

A coastguard helicopter crew spotted floating wreckage and recovered one casualty, who had sustained fatal injuries, and an RNLI lifeboat recovered the other. Neither was wearing a lifejacket.

The report concluded: ‘The pilot had logged 12.5 hours of instrument flying and had undertaken two hours of instrument training in a simulator two months before the accident, however, he was not qualified and had not completed the required training to fly unsupervised in IMC.’

In addition, the report stated: ‘It is concluded that the accident probably occurred as a result of the aircraft being flown, in poor visibility, into the sea.’