Logbook of Brighouse helicopter crash pilot ‘falsified by instructor’

Ian King

Paul and Linda Spencer

The crash scene at Rudding Park, Harrogate

First published in News

A Brighouse businessman who died in a helicopter crash after his instructor allegedly lied so he could be granted a pilot’s licence was “mad keen” on flying, a jury was told.

Paul Spencer, who ran a dried flower business, and his wife, Linda, died when the helicopter he was piloting came down in Rudding Park resort, Harrogate, in January 2008.

His flying instructor, Ian King, 53, is accused of signing off Mr Spencer’s training records, enabling him to obtain his licence only weeks before the tragedy even though he did not have sufficient flying experience.

King, of Wetherby, has pleaded not guilty to making a false representation with intent to deceive the Civil Aviation Authority and is on trial at Leeds Crown Court.

Mr Spencer’s son-in-law, Michael Carr, who was also taught by King, said his father-in-law was fanatical about flying and had already gained his fixed wing pilot’s licence.

“He loved flying full-stop, no matter what,’ Mr Carr told the jury yesterday. “He was mad keen.

“When you get the bug for flying you just want to carry on.”

Mr Carr added that King seemed like a very competent, experienced instructor who had amassed about 3,000 hours of flying time.

The prosecution claims that after the death of Mr Spencer, who ran Country Baskets, a record of his flying experience was discovered among his papers which was different from the hours recorded in the official flying log submitted for his licence.

It is alleged that King knew it was false but certified it to fast-track the process for his student.

The logbook showed Mr Spencer had done 51.3 hours of training, the minimum being 45 hours, and that it had included the mandatory ten hours of solo flying, which the prosecution says was a “lie”.

Jurors have also been told by the Crown that phone records, e-mails sent by the businessman, fuel purchases and weather conditions also appeared to support that unofficial record rather than the official log certified by King.

The trial continues.

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