A stunt plane crash near a Herefordshire airfield which killed its Falklands War veteran pilot was not caused by a mechanical fault, an official report has concluded.

During an aerobatic practice flight from Shobdon airfield last August, the single-seat Pitts biplane flown by former paratrooper Chris Waddington underwent an “uncommanded autorotative right roll” during a manoeuvre, the Air Accidents Investigation Branch said in its investigation report.

Hereford Times: Chris Waddington

It then “entered a steep nose-down spiral dive”. Though Mr Waddington tried to pull out of this, the plane “experienced an accelerated stall”, causing it to hit the ground “in an almost vertical attitude”.

The wreckage was examined for faults at the AAIB’s facility in Farnborough, Hampshire, from which “no causal or contributory technical issues were identified”, the report said.

Instead, it concluded that height at which the pilot tried to carry out the manoeuvre “gave little or no safety margin” when it began to go wrong.

With no time to deploy his parachute, Mr Waddington “did not survive the initial impact”, the report said.


The airfield’s fire and rescue crew were at the craft within three minutes of the alarm being raised, to deal with “what remained of the intense post‑crash fire” in a field south of the runway.

The investigation drew on footage from the airfield’s CCTV cameras which captured the some of the manoeuvres and the impact, while a submitted mobile phone video with sound also gave investigators an indication of the plane’s engine speed.

Mr Waddington had recently featured in a BBC documentary, Our Falklands War: A Frontline Story to mark the 40th anniversary of the conflict, in which he had served as platoon commander.

He had performed several times in public with the US-made plane, which he bought in 2003.