A GLIDER pilot was killed after his aircraft stalled and plummeted into a field from about 400ft, an inquest heard yesterday.

Retired bank manager Michael Teychenne could not prevent the high performance Schleicher ASW 24 spiralling to the ground.

The 65-year-old, of Copperkins Lane, Amersham, was found dead amongst the wreckage of the glider after he crashed on farmland near the village of Eaton Bray, Bedfordshire, on April 30 last year.

Monday's inquest heard Mr Teychenne - a conductor of the Harrow Symphony Orchestra and treasurer of the Amersham and District Residents Association - had flown this particular glider 13 times over ten hours and had 11 years' of flying experience.

The fatal flight was his second of the day, having landed safely after an earlier one. He died from severe multiple injuries.

Eyewitness James West told the inquest in Dunstable he could see the glider was in trouble.

Mr West, himself a glider pilot, said: "I was expecting him to land, but then he climbed up. I thought he wasn't happy with his height and wanted to gain height before coming back to the airfield.

"I could see him heading down. I knew this was not his intentional manoeuvre.

"I lost sight of the impact when he hit the ground so I wasn't really sure how severe the impact was."

He added: "There's always a small possibility with a glider in it that if you arrive on the ground on a downwards slope you might get away with it. I was hopeful there might be a chance. I then saw people running across to the pilot."

Air accident investigators believed Mr Teychenne was not high enough off the ground to recover from the nosedive.

Paul Hannant, a senior inspector for the Air Accident Investigation Branch, told the inquest the glider stalling may have contributed to the unrecoverable nosedive.

He said: "The investigation concluded that the probable cause of the accident was a stall and loss of control due to an excessive loss of airspeed during a pull-up manoeuvre.

"There was insufficient height available to execute a recovery."

Mr Hannant added: "It was going at about 37 knots. If it stalls it has a tendency to nose over. It's inherent in the design of the aircraft."

Conditions and visibility were good and gusts of wind were between 14 and 24 knots, the hearing was told.

The jury of seven women and three men returned a verdict of accidental death.

Bedfordshire Coroner David Morris said: "He entered a spiral and had insufficient height to recover resulting in a fatal crash."