Hucknall’s Merlin Flying Club is mourning the loss of two of its ‘valued members’ this week following a plane crash on Saturday.
The Cessna F150L light aircraft, which was owned by the club, crashed in a field near junction 26 and 27 of the M1 motorway, at Watnall, shortly after take off from the town’s Rolls-Royce airfield.
John Gill, 70, of Belper, and (Robert) Alan Eaves, 76, of Selston, died at the scene of the crash, which happened at around 1.30pm on Saturday 14th June.
Both men were experienced pilots flying recognised circuits at the time of the accident. A post mortem examination, which took place on Tuesday 17th June has ruled out any medical condition contributing to the crash.
Club members, which only two weeks ago held their popular annual Merlin Flying Pageant which attracted hundreds of air enthusiasts, have been left shocked and saddened.
“The club is deeply distressed by this tragic accident,” said club member Nigel Perkins. “The club want to send our sincere condolences to the families of the two people who died.
“John and Alan were two valued members of the club and we are all saddened by this loss.”
Selston Parish Councillor Gail Turner knew Mr Eaves well and paid tribute to the Mansfield Road resident who she said had played a pivotal part in the Selston Area Residents’ Association, set up to fight a landfill proposal at Bentinck.
“Alan was a good friend of mine and all the members of the Selston Area Residents’ Association,” said Coun Turner on Thursday. “All the members of the group are totally shocked by what has happened and our thoughts are with Pat his wife, who is quite an incredible lady too.
“We will all miss him greatly. He was good fun and we will miss that sense of humour.
“His loss is a loss to the village - he did a lot for the village and he never sought glory for it.
“He was part of the team for years, right up to the day we won our battle and was instrumental in researching air pollution and the effects of particulate matter on people, which formed a major part of our objection.”
Coun Turner said Alan also liked art and was a member of Selston Art Club and enjoyed hill walking and going on walking trips to Norway.
“Alan also loved his flying and when he retired from his job at Rolls-Royce he became a member of Merlin Flying Club,
“He was an intelligent man who lived a very full life.”
Merlin Flying Club was set up by former employees of Rolls-Royce and their families principally with the purpose of learning to fly.
The club was formed over 50 years ago and operates from the airfield on Rolls-Royce’s Hucknall site during the weekends only.
Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue, the Police and the East Midlands Ambulance Service (EMAS) attended the scene and sent specialist crews as soon as they were alerted.
“Frontline staff responded to an incident involving a light aircraft which came down close to the M1 between junctions 26 and 27,” said an EMAS spkesman in a statement released on Saturday. “We received the call at 1.24pm and immediately dispatched a range of resources including specially trained staff from our Hazardous Area Response Team, the Derbyshire Leicestershire Air Ambulance, conventional ambulances, solo responders and incident managers.
The Air Accident Investigation Branch continues its enquiries into the circumstances surrounding the incident.