Flight instructor denies that a wealthy businessman had not completed his full training

A FLIGHT instructor denied yesterday that a wealthy businessman had not completed his full training before he certified his application for a helicopter pilot’s licence only weeks before he crashed to his death.

Ian King told a jury at Leeds Crown Court that Paul Spencer had done all the required exercises and flying hours.

He said on December 5, 2007 when he signed Mr Spencer’s log book the businessman had entered the correct duration of flights but the columns for arrival and departure times were left blank “when he left me.”

They did not have to be filled in and he said he told Mr Spencer he could do that himself later if he wanted and it appeared Mr Spencer had filled some incorrect timings but the flights had happened.

King, 53 of Burns Way, Clifford, Wetherby, denies making a false representation to the Civil Aviation Authority.

He said he used his own handwritten notes on the training flights for Mr Spencer to fill in the details of which exercises were completed during each flight.

He accepted in evidence that three exercises had not been recorded as having been completed but said they had been done. “It was just an error,” he said.

Martin Goudie prosecuting suggested in cross-examination to miss out one or two exercises was an error to miss three was carelessness.

“I don’t dispute that,” said King.

“This wasn’t Mr Spencer’s error this was your error,” asked Mr Goudie.

“Most definitely, I was telling him what to write down at the time,” said the defendant.

Mr Goudie suggested the exercises were left out because they never took place. “I think they did,” said King.

He said there was no way Mr Spencer could have passed his skills test without having done all the required exercises. “He was diligent in everything he did in flying. He was just a pure delight to fly with and teach.”

He had taught him from August 2007, those hours could not count towards the hours needed for his licence but it meant by November when he began official training they did not need to go through the full exercise briefings again which shortened the time needed.

Asked about his handwritten notes on the training flights, King told the jury unfortunately he had not seen them since that night when he put them in a briefcase.

Months after the crash in Rudland Park, Harrogate in January 2008 which Mr Spencer and his wife Linda were killed, he was asked to provide details of his training to and accident investigator but could not then find the notes.

Mr Goudie suggested that was because flights had not taken place in November as he had recorded “and you knew that when you signed the log book and appplication for a licence.”

“With that I disagree,” said King.

He told the jury his reputation was very important to him and he would not have allowed any pupil to go for a skills test and apply for a licence who was not up to it.

He said Mr Spencer, the boss of Country Baskets, was keen to get his licence and had determined to fly intensively once he got his permission to train through.

By then he was doing extremely well and King said he was able to push him when he might not have done a novice. That meant they would fly out of Beverley in windy conditions for example, it was a way of sorting “the men from the boys.”

King accepted the official training flights in November had not been recorded in his own log book but said he had arranged to meet with Mr Spencer to copy the details as was often done in flying circles, sadly it was due to be on the Wednesday after the fatal crash which meant the record was never made up.

The trial continues.