British couple killed in air crash
A British pilot and his stuntwoman wife killed in a small plane crash were on their first trip together when their light aircraft came down near the French Riviera.
James and Jacqueline Balmer decided to wait until their two children were grown up before flying in the same plane for fear of accidents which could orphan the two girls.
They had been looking forward to travelling together "for a long time" and were on a tour of France and Italy when the twin engine Piper PA-39 went "full tilt" into a mountain on Friday.
Family members believe thick fog in the region meant Mr Balmer, an "excellent" and "careful" pilot, was unable to see land directly in front of him as he flew over the Mediterranean Sea and into Mont Agel, between the port of Menton and the principality of Monaco.
Mr Balmer, known as Jim, and his wife - who went by the stage name Jacquie de Creed and became famous for her spectacular car stunts - set off from Lucca in Italy and were making their way towards Troyes, some 100 miles south east of Paris, when they were killed.
The couple from Cirencester, in Gloucestershire, had been due to return home on Saturday following an eight-day holiday.
Family friend Dick Sheppard said friends and relatives were "totally devastated" by the news.
"This was the first time they had flown together on a proper trip in their own plane," he said.
"They had always gone separately before, for the purpose of security. They had been looking forward to it for a long time and then it had to happen, the first time they had flown together on a trip in their own aeroplane."
He said the Balmers' younger daughter, Lucy, had not "come to terms with it yet" while her older sister, Charlotte was "sobbing".