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Tearful Chris Evans pays tribute to CarFest crash pilot Kevin Whyman

Published 04/08/2015

Chris Evans at Oulton Park, Cheshire, after pilot Kevin Whyman was killed
Chris Evans at Oulton Park, Cheshire, after pilot Kevin Whyman was killed
Kevin Whyman (front), the cox for the winning Cambridge University boat crews for 1996 and 1997, was killed at the CarFest event in Oulton Park

A tearful Chris Evans used his BBC Radio 2 morning show to pay tribute to the pilot who died at the CarFest motor show over the weekend.

In a moving tribute, Evans choked back tears as he reflected on the "tragic accident" at Oulton Park, Cheshire, which killed Kevin Whyman, 35, on Saturday. Evans said Mr Whyman "loved life", and he played ELO's Mr Blue Sky in memory of the former RAF pilot.

Addressing his audience at 8.15am, just over half way through his morning programme today, Evans said: "A moment, if you will, to reflect on the events of the weekend at CarFest.

"On Saturday afternoon during an air display at CarFest North there was a tragic accident in which a gentlemen by the name of Kevin Whyman lost his life. Kevin was an experienced pilot flying a plane he loved, which was part of the vintage Gnat display team he co-founded in 2007.

"A huge supporter of children's charities, he was thrilled when CarFest organisers invited him and his Gnat synchro partner Mark Fitzgerald to take part in this year's event."

Evans continued: " I can't even begin to put in to words how shocked and saddened we all were when we realised the seriousness of the situation as the details of what happened just after two o'clock very quickly began to unfold.

"On Sunday we held a minute's silence on the main stage in Kevin's honour, which I'm pleased to say was hugely attended by almost all the 30,000 people present, and those who couldn't make it to the main stage fell silent all across the site.

"All that matters now is that Kevin's family are given all the support, privacy and respect they both need and deserve. It was a terrible thing to have happened - the likes of which none of us want to witness again.

"But Kevin loved life, he lived it to the full every minute of every day. So the best thing we could do to pay tribute to his memory is to try and do the same, which we most certainly will."

CarFest, which was founded by Evans, raises money for Children in Need and features cars, planes and music.

Mr Whyman was married with a young daughter. He lived in Westminster, central London, and split his leisure time between the airfield during the summer months and the ski slopes of the Swiss Alps during the winter.

Chester-born Mr Whyman was sponsored through his school sixth form years by the Royal Navy, and later went on to complete the RAF flying scholarship at the age of 18.

He studied economics at Peterhouse, Cambridge University, where he joined the University Air Squadron (UAS) and began elementary flying training on the Bulldog aircraft.

Away from the skies Mr Whyman trained with the University Boat Club and coxed Cambridge to victory in the 1996 and 1997 boat races against Oxford.

His RAF career, from 1998 to 2001, included initial officer training as well as a spell of fast jet training in which he worked on the Tucano (2 Squadron) and Hawk aircraft (208 Squadron).

He left the RAF for a trading job with a US investment bank in the City of London. He also completed his civilian flying licences so that he could continue with his passion for flying.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) spokesman said it would be investigating the incident and sending a team to the site.

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