Pilot and boy, 7, died when plane crashed during skydiving exercise, inquest hears

A pilot and a young child tragically died when their plane crashed nose-down during a skydiving exercise, an inquest heard.

Neil Bowditch, 47, and seven-year-old Kacper Kacprzak, who was sitting in the co-pilot seat, were killed during the accident in the Republic of Ireland in May 2018.

Somerset Coroner’s Court in Taunton heard Kacpter’s dad was among 16 skydivers who had jumped 13,000ft from the aircraft shortly before the tragic incident.

He’d had permission from his parents to fly and had done so already on previous occasions.

An investigation determined the accident likely occurred due to a loss of control in a “steeply banked left-hand turn, leading to a rapid loss of altitude”, Tony Williams, senior coroner for Somerset, said.

Billy Bowditch
Billy Bowditch died of massive generalised trauma when the plane he was flying crashed nose-down

Mr Bowditch, from Stafford but originally from Taunton, was flying the Cessna light aircraft as part of a skydiving exercise at Clonbullogue Airfield in Co Offaly.

While returning to the airfield, the pilot advised by radio he was on “left base” ahead of the approach leg to land.

No further radio transmissions were received, or mayday call, and a short time later it was established the aircraft had crashed nose-down into a forested peat bog at nearby Ballaghassan.

Tony Williams, senior coroner for Somerset, said: “The aircraft was destroyed but there was no fire and both the pilot and child passenger were fatally injured.

The inquest was heard at Somerset Coroner Court
The inquest was heard at Somerset Coroner Court

“Four safety recommendations are made as a result of this investigation.”

Mr Williams said the boy was travelling on the aircraft with his parents’ permission and had been on board during previous flights.

“A video recorded by one of the skydivers on the day prior to the accident shows them seated in the aircraft,” Mr Williams said.

A post-mortem examination found Mr Bowditch died from massive generalised trauma.

The inquest heard the Air Accident Investigation Unit in the Republic of Ireland made a series of safety recommendations, including the Irish Parachute Club prohibiting the carrying of passengers unless critical to the flight.

Mr Williams recorded a conclusion that the experienced pilot died from an accident.

“In all the circumstances it must be appropriate for me to record a conclusion of accidental death,” he said.

“On May 13 2018 at Ballaghassan, Neil Bowditch lost control of the Cessna aircraft he was piloting as a result of which the plane crashed and he sustained fatal injuries.”

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