Instructor denies role in chopper crash

Paul Spencer
Paul Spencer

A wealthy businessman, killed with his wife in a helicopter crash, was “mad keen” on flying, his son-in-law told a jury yesterday.

Michael Carr said Paul Spencer was already a fully qualified and experienced pilot on fixed wing aircraft when he took up flying helicopters.

“He loved flying full stop, no matter what” he told Leeds Crown Court.

The jury has heard Mr Spencer and his wife Linda, who ran Country Baskets, died when the Westland Gazelle helicopter he was piloting crashed in Rudding Park, Harrogate on December 12, 2007.

Flight instructor Ian King is accused of lying to help obtain a private helicopter licence for Mr Spencer only weeks before the crash.

The prosecution claim he falsely certified to the Civil Aviation Authority that Mr Spencer had completed all the training requirements in respect of flying hours when he had not done so.

King, 53 of Burns Way, Clifford, Wetherby denies making a false representation with intent to deceive.

Mr Carr told the jury he had done some training flying helicopters at the same time as Mr Spencer in 2007, initially on Schweizer helicopters in Sheffield but later they transferred to training on a Gazelle from a another registered training airfield in Beverley and they were subsequently instructed by King.

He told Jon Gregg defending King that he did not keep up the hours of training because of work commitments but Mr Spencer had more time on his hands and “loved it”.

“When you get the bug for flying you just want to get on with it.”

He told the court he found the training given by King as “full on” but they appreciated his valuable experience on all types of aircraft. “Ian had us under pressure to make sure we did what we had to do as far as safety and concentration.”

“Is it right to say he(Mr Spencer) was driven, that he really wanted that licence.” asked Mr Gregg.

“I would say if you do flying you just want to keep flying, that’s the drive behind it” said Mr Carr. “Any spare time you have you just want to fly.”

The trial continues.