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Steve Clarehugh

Steve Clarehugh

Very 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 crashed plane.

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 the bottom.

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 given.

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 towed away.

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 to police.

The van towing the caravan was tracked down the A1 for almost 10 miles. It was eventually surrounded and stopped by police patrol cars in Morpeth.

Our sympathy and condolences go to his family, friends and the many microlight pilots that Steve has taught to fly.

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