A champion pilot who taught Carol Vorderman and a flying student died when the plane they were in crashed into the ground during an aerobatics training flight. 

Instructor Emily Collett, 35, and student Tom Castle, 30, were flying in a two-seater blue and yellow Pitts Special biplane on August 24, 2019, but crashed into a field near Stonor just after 1pm. 

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) found that a definitive cause for the crash could not be determined. 

However, they said it was "likely" Ms Collett had become "incapacitated during a spin" and that student Mr Castle was "unable to recover the aircraft in time". 

ALSO READ: People travel from London and Manchester to attend party

Ms Collett was carrying out an aerobatic training session to prepare Mr Castle to compete in sports level aerobatic competitions. 

It was their third sortie of the training and the student was operating from the rear cockpit of the plane. 

They had taken off from White Waltham airfield at around 12.55pm and flew to an area north of Henley-on-Thames. 

The plane was seen manoeuvring by two eyewitnesses, who described seeing it "entering a spin and then recovering, climbing to gain more altitude and then entering another spin". 


The AAIB report said: "The eyewitnesses were both over one mile from the accident site. Their statements differ significantly in the estimation of the height of the aircraft and the exact manoeuvres flown, though both recalled last seeing the aircraft in a spin.

"The second spin persisted for several turns and the aircraft was still spinning when the witnesses lost sight of it; neither witness saw the aircraft strike the ground.

"Both occupants were fatally injured."

ALSO READ: Butcher ‘smirked’ when accused of murdering student, jury told

The AAIB said the plane had struck the ground in a "steep nose-down attitude" and was still in a spin at the time. 

Both pilots were restrained but had suffered unsurvivable injuries. 

A post-mortem found that the pilot had a "significant cardiac condition", which would have put her at risk of sudden death due to cardiac dysrhythmia. 

The report suggests the condition is "particularly rare" in those aged under 40 and Ms Collett had shown no signs of illness before the crash. 

The AAIB said: "It is possible that the commander could have suffered a significant alteration of cardiac output, sufficient to prevent further control of the aircraft.

"In this eventuality it would be likely that the commander would have collapsed with little or no warning."

They added: "Following the likely incapacitation of the commander, the student either did not attempt to recover the aircraft in time or tried but was unable to do so.

"It is possible that a physical control restriction impeded or prevented the student from taking recovery action, but this is considered unlikely."

Mr Castle may have been disorientated, startled, surprised, panicked or confused about what was happening and therefore did not manage to take recovery actions. 

ALSO READ: High Wycombe mosques forced to suspend Friday prayers because of Covid-19

Ms Collett gave TV star Carol Vorderman a lesson and taught her how to do a loop-de-loop in an episode of the One Show in 2017. 

At the time of Ms Collett and Mr Castle's death, Carol tweeted: "Such a terrible terrible loss...Emily was an extraordinary young woman and pilot and my time with her in the air was nothing but a joy. My heart goes out to her husband Mike, to Emily's family and to Tom Castle's family in their grief. Rest In Peace."