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Tributes to pilot Kevin Whyman who died in plane crash at CarFest event

Published 01/08/2015

Emergency services were sent to the scene of an air crash
Emergency services were sent to the scene of an air crash

The pilot who was killed when his aircraft plummeted from the sky during an aerial display has been named as Kevin Whyman.

The 35 year-old, who 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."

The accident happened shortly after 2pm at the CarFest event in Oulton Park, Cheshire, created by TV and radio presenter Chris Evans.

Shocked spectators fell silent as the plane suddenly nose-dived during the display, before disappearing behind trees.

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

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.

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."

He said it would be "completely inappropriate" to speculate on how the accident happened. Evans said he would give a tribute to the pilot at a later point.

Cheshire Police confirmed that Mr Whyman died at the scene and there were "no reports of any other injuries".

Officers are working to find out what caused the accident, the spokesman said.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) spokesman said: "AAIB will be investigating and is sending a team to the site."

CarFest said in a statement: "An aircraft flying with the Gnat Display Team came down approximately one mile north of the site. The pilot has been confirmed as a fatality. We do not believe that any other person has been harmed in the incident.

"We are working very closely with the police, emergency services and all relevant authorities. We have helpfully received images and footage captured by those close to the site, which will aid with the police investigation.

"Should anyone else have similar photo or video footage, they are asked to keep hold of it in case the authorities request further information.

"Our thoughts are with the family of the pilot and all those affected at this time."

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 event in Cheshire began yesterday and is due to finish tomorrow.

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 licenses so that he could continue with his passion for flying.

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