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Memory of tragic air crash pilot lives on through flying scholarship
A FATHER who lost his pilot son in a tragic air crash over five years ago has welcomed another student onto a flying scholarship launched in his honour.
The lives of the Beagley family were turned upside down after 34-year-old James was killed in a mid-air crash in 2008.
While he was travelling as a passenger in a Cessna 402 aircraft, it collided with a small solo-piloted plane near Coventry airport.
Five people including James, who lived in Churchill Drive, Marlow Bottom, lost their lives in the crash in August 2008.
Alan Beagley then started the ‘James Beagley Memorial Scholarship’ in memory of his son, who he said was "obsessed" with flying since first climbing into the cockpit as a teenager.
But despite appeals in the Free Press and elsewhere to find candidates, Mr Beagley had trouble attracting willing participants for the scheme, which helps young pilots pay for their training and pilot's licence.
And after successfully helping their first graduate into the skies in 2010, the scholarship now has its second pupil in the form of 19-year-old George Andrews from Henley.
Retired helicopter pilot Mr Beagley said: "Despite my efforts we had almost zero response which I couldn’t fathom because it’s like I was standing on the corner of the street offering to hand out £20 notes.
"But we have got George now and he is outstanding in every respect. One of the principles of the scholarship was to mirror my son’s career in as much as he was totally dedicated to flying.
"Everything else came second for him and he sacrificed so much for it. It was almost an addiction or an obsession for James.
"If someone is as keen then we want to help them, and with George I can see it in his face and in his eyes that it doesn’t matter what it is, he would rather go flying and I think he is going to be a quite exceptional pilot.
"That passion is there, that driving force even if things are going wrong and you get to that stage where others would give up it’s people like George and my son that would knuckle down and get on with it."
James’s death left his grieving loved ones in turmoil and desperately seeking answers as to how the tragedy occurred.
After a long criminal investigation which led to no convictions, an inquest jury returned a narrative verdict and were not able to specifically allocate blame to any individuals or company involved.
Every year in August, hundreds of James’s friends and family mark the anniversary of his death with a social night and air display at White Waltham airfield, where James learned to fly.
Mr Beagley and his associates on the scholarship board are looking for more students who are desperate to take to the skies.
The scheme pays for half the costs towards flying lessons and exams for budding pilots hoping to obtain a commercial pilot’s licence. For more information, visit the website JBScholarship.org
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