A PILOT was flying at least 1,200ft below the safe zone when he fatally crashed at an Oxfordshire nature reserve, a report has found.

David Norris, 64, died on January 15 when his light aircraft crashed in Aston Rowant Nature Reserve.

Today, more details have emerged about the conditions in which the Milton Keynes pilot died.

A report released by the Government's Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) said: "[Mr Noris] was operating below 1,000 ft in an area where the Minimum Safe Altitude (MSA) was 2,200 ft."

The AAIB said Mr Norris had been travelling from Turweston Airfield in Buckinghamshire to Chalgrove Airfield, to pick up two passengers.

Oxford Mail:

The crash site shown on Google Maps

He flew past the destination at about 2.30pm and turned left towards the high grounds of the Chilterns, striking tree tops minutes later and crashing to the ground. 

The report said: "The pilot was unaware of the slightly better conditions on his right.

"It was likely the pilot was uncertain of his position relative to Chalgrove Airfield.

"Witness evidence was of poor visibility and cloud (fog) on the ridge and that, when it flew overhead, the 'shadow' of an aircraft could be seen, but not the aircraft itself."

They suggested visibility was 'significantly below' 1,500m and noted the police helicopter was unable to reach the site for 30 minutes post-crash due to low cloud.

The report added: "The damage to the aircraft was such that the accident was not considered to be survivable.

"No evidence was found that the aircraft was subject to a technical failure which could have contributed to this accident."

The AAIB discussed potential reasons why Mr Norris was flying so low, from the stress of the conditions to an impression that visibility was better than it actually was.

But its report concluded: "It was not possible to determine whether any of them were applicable."

Mr Norris had served as chairman of Newton Longville Parish Council in Milton Keynes for several years, and is understood to have been a husband and father-of-two.