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Pilot dies in replica Spitfire crash

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Pilot dies in replica Spitfire crash

Post by gvla on Wed Mar 20, 2013 5:50 am

It could take several weeks to determine the cause of a fatal plane crash during an air show in Adelaide's north, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) says.

Experienced pilot Roger Stokes, 73, was killed when his homemade replica Spitfire crashed close to homes at Salisbury on Sunday afternoon during a demonstration flight above nearby Parafield Airport.

Mr Stokes, from Monarto east of Adelaide, was taking part in the Antique and Classic Aircraft Display.

Hundreds of spectators were at the event and witnesses saw his plane nose-dive and disappear from view.

The aircraft crashed into a fence between two businesses on Frost Road in Salisbury about 2:00pm (ACST), narrowly missing a busy soccer pitch and homes.

Local resident Anne Gibbons was just 50 metres from the point of impact and said it sounded like the engine stalled.

"Before when it was up high you could hear it but the moment just before it disappeared from my roof you couldn't hear anything," she said.

"It was like silent and then there was just that sudden explosion."

The wreckage remains at the scene of the accident as ATSB engineers analyse it for clues.

Lead investigator Richard Davies says determining the cause will take at least several weeks.

"Quite often with light aircraft accidents, because they don't have sophisticated recording mediums like large passenger aircraft, we're very reliant on the physical evidence on site and the reporting of witness observations," he said.

"We've taken a lot of photographs. We've only just started to work on the wreckage and we have to take a very close look at it.

PHOTO: Roger Stokes, 73, was flying a replica World War II fighter plane he had built himself. (ABC Mildura)
"We'll perhaps take some items away with us for further testing."

'Dream to fly'

Mr Stokes finished building the 80 per cent scale, two-seater World War II replica plane from a kit in 2006.

On the seventieth anniversary of the Battle of Britain in 2010, Mr Stokes spoke to the ABC about his passion for the Spitfire and its unique design, with bubble-shaped hood and rounded wing-tips.

He said he first saw a picture of a Spitfire in a book when he was a boy.

"When I was 11 and I had rheumatic fever I was given a book by the doctor about flying and in it was the story of the Spitfire," he said.

"I've always been impressed with the beautiful shape of it. It's a bit of a funny thing that you make something so beautiful to fight a war.

"One day I looked in a factory in Brisbane that were making these Spitfire kits and I left $1000 lighter. I put a deposit on the thing."

Mr Stokes said the aircraft cost him about $250,000 to buy and build and had a cruising speed of about 300 kilometres per hour.

"My wife and I spent four years and 4000 hours building it," he said.

"It's a dream to fly. You pilot it around the sky pretty well anywhere, point and shoot sort of thing.

"On the ground it's a beast because the engine's very powerful.

"It's fully aerobatic. You can roll it and loop it and that sort of thing."


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