Killed Spitfire pilot an 'excellent flyer'

Print Page Updated: 11:51:44 AM, Mon 18 March 2013 Australia/Brisbane

The man killed when his replica Spitfire crashed at an airshow in Adelaide was an outstanding engineer and pilot, fellow Spitfire enthusiast Langdon Badger says.

Roger Stokes died on Sunday when the plane he built from a kit plunged into a factory carpark at Salisbury.

Mr Badger said he did not believe the crash was the result of pilot error.

"It is a tragic loss," he told ABC radio on Monday.

"He was a lovely fellow and a brilliant engineer and an excellent pilot."

Mr Stokes, 73, had spent four years building the three-quarter-scale Spitfire, spending about $250,000 in the process.

In an interview in 2010 he said he had always been impressed with the shape, finding it funny that something so beautiful was produced to fight a war.

"It's a dream to fly. You pilot it around the sky pretty well anywhere," he said.

"I get as much enjoyment out of other people's enjoyment because everybody loves it."

Witnesses to Sunday's crash told the Adelaide Advertiser the Spitfire went into an uncontrolled nosedive close to a soccer oval.

One said the plane appeared to do a barrel roll when a wing gave way.

"It was twirling, turning on its back and going nose first," he said.

Police said it was lucky the plane had crashed into a closed-off carpark rather than into nearby houses or the soccer field where a game was in progress.

They are preparing a report for the coroner. Australian Transport Safety Bureau officials will also investigate the crash.

Air show organisers cancelled the rest of the event.

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