Pilot intended to crash aircraft, inquest finds

Milner's tower on a sunny day
Karl Bettoney brought the Cessna aircraft down at Bradda Head cliff edge on 17 July last year [MANX SCENES]

The pilot of a light aircraft which crashed into a cliff face on the Isle of Man coast deliberately brought the plane down, an inquest has found.

Karl Bettoney, 64, a financial advisor, died instantly after the Cassna aircraft he was flying crashed into Bradda Head cliff edge on the afternoon of 17 July last year.

In a phone call minutes beforehand, Mr Bettoney had told his partner he was "sorry" and that he loved her, and how he had left the car keys on the wheel of the vehicle, the inquest at Douglas Courthouse heard.

Offering his condolences to the family, Coroner James Brooks concluded that by the day of the crash Mr Bettoney had "formed the intent to end his own life".

'Family bereavement'

Mr Brooks accepted the findings of an earlier Air Accident Investigation Branch report, which found the crash was likely to have been deliberate.

Mr Bettoney was an experienced pilot, had been flying for about 38 years, and it was his "passion", his partner Julie Brown said in evidence given to the hearing.

Their family was "devastated" but "it is clear to us that no one else was involved," she said.

In the weeks leading up to the crash, Mr Bettoney had been struggling with his mental health, was not able to sleep and was dealing with a family bereavement, the inquest heard.

At 12:22 BST Mr Bettoney contacted Air Traffic Control to book into a flight.

The aircraft later took off before witnesses reported seeing it flying low and circling between the Calf of Man and just north of Bradda Head.

One witness who had been sitting in Port Erin observing the plane for about five to 10 minutes, described how it flew over the bay three times - appearing lower each time it returned.

Other witnesses said they heard a loud bang.

There was no evidence of any technical fault in the plane that could have prevented the pilot from manoeuvring to avoid the cliff, the inquest heard.

The aircraft was about 100-200ft (30-60m) above sea level when it crashed into the cliffs.

Mr Bettoney died of injuries caused by the impact.

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