Teenage pilot Lois Preston died in a tragic accident when her hang glider smashed into Darley Moor Airfield, inquest told
A PROMISING teenage pilot died in a tragic accident when her hang glider smashed into a Derbyshire airfield, an inquest heard.
Lois Preston was taking part in only her second-ever solo flight when the crash happened at Darley Moor Airfield, near Ashbourne, in 2011.
At an inquest into the 16-year-old's death, experts said she had shown "outstanding ability" as an aviator.
But on October 28, 2011, during a solo flight, supervised by instructors, her aircraft pitched heavily to the left, continuing downward until it struck the ground.
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Her father, Mark Preston, was not at Derby and South Derbyshire Coroner's Court yesterday but a statement was read out in his absence.
It said: "Lois was an active child and was interested in sporting activities. We tried flying on a family holiday to Switzerland and got the flying bug. We did a lot of flights and, when she was just 15, Lois was a competent pilot."
Judith Leden, flying instructor at Airways Airsports, which operates out of Darley Moor Airfield, said Miss Preston was one of the best trainee pilots she had taught.
She said: "She was an extremely accomplished pilot. She was enormously promising from the outset and was outstanding in her ability and enthusiasm."
She said Miss Preston received her flying licence on her 16th birthday and had done many tandem hang glider flights before, on October 28, trying a solo one.
She said: "In my opinion, she was ready. There's nothing that happened that would have changed that decision that I knew she was ready. The flying conditions were perfect."
On that morning, Miss Preston, of Great Sankey, Warrington, Cheshire, had taken four tandem flights and one solo flight, which Mrs Leden said she handled "perfectly".
On her second solo flight, towed by Mrs Leden in a microlight, she was observed from the ground by fellow instructor Andrew Snell, who communicated with her via radio.
He said: "She took off as normal but then her wing dipped. I told her to release but the glider continued in a left-hand path. I told her to pull right but I realised the glider had gone too far.
"I told her to let go and relax, let the glider take the impact. Then the glider struck the ground."
The inquest heard that no defects were found with the tug aircraft or the hang glider that could have contributed to the accident.
The cause of her death was given as head injuries and a jury returned a verdict of accidental death.