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CarFest resumes after pilot Kevin Whyman dies in plane crash

Published 02/08/2015

Chris Evans speaks to the media after a display aircraft plummeted to the ground at the CarFest event, killing the pilot
Chris Evans speaks to the media after a display aircraft plummeted to the ground at the CarFest event, killing the pilot

The CarFest event has resumed today despite the death of a pilot whose aircraft plummeted from the sky during an aerial display.

Kevin Whyman, 35, was killed in the accident which took place at around 2pm in Oulton Park, Cheshire, on Saturday.

But TV and radio presenter Chris Evans, who created the event, said police had advised that it would be best to carry on with the festival.

Cheshire Police today said they are continuing their investigation at the scene alongside the Air Accident Investigation Branch.

Superintendent Bev Raistrick thanked spectators, who watched in horror as the plane crashed to the ground, for submitting videos and pictures of the incident.

"We are continuing to work alongside the other agencies involved - including the Air Accident Investigation Branch," she said.

"Enquiries are ongoing in a bid to establish the full circumstances of what has happened.

"Our thoughts remain with all those who have been affected by the incident.

"We have had a lot of calls from members of the public who have contacted us with information following the incident - this includes video footage and photographs - which may assist with the investigation. I would like to thank them for their assistance."

Shocked spectators fell silent as the plane suddenly nose-dived after performing a low-level, close-proximity pass before disappearing behind trees.

Moments later a plume of thick black smoke billowed in to the sky.

A visibly upset Evans told reporters: "There was a tragic accident, the result of which was that one of the pilots involved in a synchro display lost his life."

The presenter added: "Our condolences go out to his family, who have been informed.

"The police have also advised us that the best thing and the safest thing to do is to carry on with the event, bearing in mind that there are 10,000 children here - and that is what we are going to do."

Mr Whyman was known as Kev "Jester" Whyman to his friends in the Gnat Display Team, was married and had a young daughter.

A statement from Heritage Aircraft Trust, which runs the team, said: "Kevin was a Royal Air Force trained fast jet pilot whose enthusiasm for flying the Folland Gnat was infectious. He will be greatly missed by his family, the Team and many friends.

"Kevin leaves a wife and young daughter. Please respect the privacy of family members and of the team at this most difficult time."

Mr Whyman started flying the Folland Gnat in 2005 and was one of the founder members of the Gnat Display Team in 2007.

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.

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

CarFest is described on its Twitter profile as Evans's "dream of the perfect family festival", featuring cars, planes and music while raising money for BBC Children In Need.

The weekend event in Cheshire began on Friday.

Onlooker Johnathan Randall tweeted: "Think I've just witnessed a plane crash? Crowd looks glum, confused, concerned."

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 (EFT) 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 care spanning 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.

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