By: Kyle James | 11-18-2017 | News
Photo credit: Sky News

Mid-Air Collision Between Helicopter And Aircraft At Rothschild Manor Leaves Four Dead

Authorities in Buckinghamshire, England have announced four people have been confirmed dead after a mid-air collision between a helicopter and an airplane. The crash was witnessed by an off-duty firefighter named Mitch Missen who was in his garden at the time.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">Still at the cordon after today&#39;s mid-air collision close to Waddesdon Hill <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Hayley O&#39;Keeffe (@misshoknews) <a href="">November 17, 2017</a></blockquote>

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"I looked up and saw as both collided in mid-air, followed by a large bang and falling debris," the firefighter said. "I rushed in to get my car keys and en route called the emergency services, who I continued to give updates as to its whereabouts. Unfortunately, I wasn't able to locate the actual crash site but directed police, fire, and ambulance as best I could. Once they were on the scene, I returned home."

Seven fire engines were dispatched to the crash site in Upper Winchendon as well as a fire brigade drone to search for survivors. The crash site ended up being on the grounds of Waddesdon Manor which is managed by the Rothschild Foundation on behalf of the National Trust. Staff at the Manor helped direct emergency responders to the crash site while police cordoned it off.

One Rothschild family member who did not want to be identified said the collision missed her by five minutes as she was just picking a plant in the Wilderness Woods right before the crash. "I'm totally shocked," Rothschild said. "I heard a loud bang, which I thought was a car crash."

The gardener of the grounds, Len Bellis, was the first to find the "burning wreckage" moments after the crash and discovered a body had landed just 30 feet from where he stood. Bellis was working when he heard a loud sound he described as a "horrendous noise" like a tin hangar collapsing. Next thing he saw were two men running to him from the woods exclaiming, "did you see it, did you see it?"

One of the witnesses described hearing a "stuttering" just before the crash as perhaps the plane's engine tried to pull a difficult maneuver to avoid the collision. Bellis described what happened next, "I just came across the wreckage", he says there was nothing left but a 5ft burning fuselage.

<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" data-lang="en"><p lang="en" dir="ltr">A plume of smoke can be seen close to Waddesdon Hill where a plane and a helicopter collided today - emergency services still at scene <a href=""></a></p>&mdash; Hayley O&#39;Keeffe (@misshoknews) <a href="">November 17, 2017</a></blockquote>

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A nearby resident also described the accident, "It happened in woodland on the estate. I didn't see the crash but I heard it. There was smoke. It was clear there were unlikely to be any survivors."

A local pilot described the airspace where the crash occurred as a very busy area and a shortage of air traffic control services certainly didn't help. A notice was previously issued to Airmen that the air field's air traffic control services would be closed for three separate 30-minute periods from November 7-30 because of a "staff shortage."

The crash occurred about 30 minutes after the latest closure was scheduled to end.

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