sadly we have to report that Steve Clarehugh, Eshott
Chief Flying Instructor, has been killed in a road accident.
Steve, 54, started flying over 20 years ago and had been
instructing from Eshott in Northumberland for the past 16 years. As well as an
instructor and examiner with Purple Aviation, he was an engineering inspector
both for the BMAA and the PFA.
He was also an experienced test pilot and had been
involved in several build projects. A father of two, he lived next to the
airfield with his wife Fiona.
"He was always there to help anyone with his ‘can
do’ attitude. This is a devastating shock to our community and a huge loss to
us all. Steve was known to each of us
for so many different reasons and was at the heart and soul of our airfield,"
said Purple Aviation boss Storm Smith.
In 2008 Steve won a major award after he rescued two
paramedics when they crashed after the tail of their plane fell off.
Steve heard the Mayday call made by pilot Jim Martin when
his plane went down near Eshott on
December 30, and immediately jumped into his aircraft and went in search of the
As he flew over Burgham Golf Course he spotted the tail
lying in a field and then saw the rest of the wreckage among some trees. He
landed on the eighth fairway of the golf course and went to the crash site.
There he found Mr Martin, and his friend Jon Kerr, both
paramedics for the Great North Air Ambulance, still conscious but seriously
injured. They were trapped in a steep, wooded ravine with a stream running at
After making sure the fuel to the plane was switched off,
Steve went to a nearby farmhouse and borrowed a tractor to tow a shed door to
the site to bridge the stream for paramedics.
He also helped the emergency services rescue the two men
by digging out some steps in the sides of the ravine.
This enabled paramedics to get the injured men out of the
plane and airlift them to Newcastle General Hospital.
For his heroic achievement, he received a commendation
from the Sky Watch Civil Air Patrol, the first time such an award has ever been
Two years before, he was flying with a student when he
looked down and spotted his neighbour's caravan being stolen.
With the lesson abandoned, and with his stunned pupil
sitting next to him, Steve turned the aircraft so he could get a good view of
the raid and phoned his friend Jimmy Roper to tell him his caravan had been
He then gave chase, shadowing the suspects from 1,500ft
while Jimmy attempted to catch up with them on the more crowded roads below.
For almost 10 miles he gave details of the thieves'
location in the Northumberland countryside, regularly speaking to Jimmy by
mobile phone, and the information was relayed by the caravan owner in his car
The van towing the caravan was tracked down the A1 for
almost 10 miles. It was eventually surrounded and stopped by police patrol cars
Our sympathy and condolences go to his family, friends and the many microlight pilots that Steve has taught to fly.
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