Two die in mid-air crash

DISASTER struck over the bank holiday weekend when a skydiver and a glider pilot died in a mid-air collision over Hinton Airfield.

DISASTER struck over the bank holiday weekend when a skydiver and a glider pilot died in a mid-air collision over Hinton Airfield.

The skydiver hit the left wing of the glider causing it to break off and fall into a field near the landing strip just after 3pm on Saturday.

Both the skydiver and the glider plummeted to the ground. Paramedics arrived by air but were unable to save the men's lives.

Air accident investigators closed the airfield while a police helicopter scoured the area for fallen debris. Fragments of the glider were scattered hundred of yards apart.

Both men had not been formally identified as the Banbury Guardian went to press, but it is thought the skydiver was a 24-year-old from Hampshire, and the glider pilot was a 69-year-old from Oxford.

The tragedy is the latest in a series of air accidents in the area over the past year.

Last August a wayward parachutist narrowly escaped injury after coming down on an 11,000 volt power cable near the airfield.

And in May Charles Bruce, 45, from Brackley, fell to his death from a plane which was flying over West Oxfordshire on its way to Hinton Airfield.

The airfield is used by the Hinton Skydiving Centre and the Aquilia Gliding Club. Both are co-operating with enquiries by the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

One elderly man, who lives in nearby Farthinghoe, said: "I am not surprised this has happened. I have been worried for some time.

"There are always lots of parachutists coming down while the gliders fly very close to them."

It was business as usual on Sunday. Dave Emerson, chief instructor at the skydiving centre, explained that the airfield had reopened to show that they were confident of their safety record.

Airfield owner Richard Harrison said: "This is the first serious incident in 17 years of operating side by side on the airfield.

"Our sincere condolences go to the families of these two men."