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Brimslade air crash: inquest unable to find cause for fatal accident in July 2017

Paul Gunnell flying his Cirrus SR22 - in between long-haul passenger flights for Cathay PacificPaul Gunnell flying his Cirrus SR22 - in between long-haul passenger flights for Cathay PacificThe family of Paul Gunnell, a former RAF fighter jet pilot who was killed when the private light plane he was in crashed at Brimslade near Marlborough in July 2017, is disappointed that the Coroner's Inquest held in Salisbury (January 29) was unable to identify a reason for the fatal accident.  The owner of the plane, Gordon Davis, also died in the crash.

Paul Gunnell's brother Jerry Gunnell spoke after the inquest:  “Naturally, it is frustrating and distressing to not have an explanation for the crash that killed Paul, but we will have to make our peace with that. We remain convinced, in large part due to Paul's own persuasion, of the tremendous safety of flying.” 

Paul Gunnell's wife Kirsty Boazman: “Paul was a naturally-gifted pilot who loved to introduce the joy of flying to others. On his behalf, we sincerely hope that those who share his passion do not reconsider a hobby or a career in aviation as a result of this tragic but rare event." 

Senior Captain Paul Gunnell - Deputy Chief Pilot Cathay Pacific AirwaysSenior Captain Paul Gunnell - Deputy Chief Pilot Cathay Pacific AirwaysPaul with his wife Kirsty on a self-fly tour of eight Greek islands (2016)Paul with his wife Kirsty on a self-fly tour of eight Greek islands (2016)At the time of his death, Paul had been flying full-time for 41 years. He flew solo from the age of 16, topped RAF training courses, flew the Harrier jump/fast jets in Germany, Belize and Afghanistan, then flew internationally for 23 years with Cathay Pacific - becoming a Senior Training Captain, an examiner of other pilots, and Deputy Chief Pilot for the airline.

When not flying Boeing 777s from London to Hong Kong, he was a volunteer pilot for the Channel Islands Air Search Rescue based on Guernsey, where he and Kirsty had moved in 2015. He also flew his own single engine plane around Europe, and became a flying instructor.

“For Paul, being a pilot was his dream from the age of 10.  I have never known anyone live their dream with as much passion, joy and talent as he did," said Jerry Gunnell. 

“Paul was at one with any aeroplane, he innately understood their machinery and movement yet he was always prepared with a Plan B and C in the air. There isn’t a day I don’t deeply miss his love, laughter and boundless zeal for life,” said Kirsty Boazman.

Paul was the accompanying instructor for a check-ride with Gordon Davis, the owner/pilot of the plane G-FMKA on the afternoon of 13 July 2017. 

The plane had been airborne for little more than 18 minutes when it suddenly pitched nose-first into a field outside Marlborough. The pilot and Paul died on impact. A memorial to the men’s love of flying stands on the farm where they had their final adventure.

The information above comes from a statement issued by the family on January 29. We are grateful to the family and Kirsty Boazman for this information and for the photographs.












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