At least five people are feared dead as a private jet crashed into houses on a residential estate in Farnborough, Kent just before 2:40pm this afternoon...

Five feared dead as private jet crashes into family homes

30th March 2008
Daily Mail

A private aircraft thought to be carrying five people including members of the same family crashed into houses on a residential estate today

Rescue services scrambled to reach the scene near Biggin Hill Airport after two houses were hit by the jet.

The plane crashed in Farnborough, Kent just before 2.40pm and at least four search and rescue teams were hunting for survivors.

One home was completely destroyed by fire when a palne crashed into a housing estate in Farnborough, Kent. A second home has also been damaged

It has been reported that the aircraft was carrying two pilots and three passengers who are feared dead.

Miraculously, people living in a house that was destroyed were on holiday and due to return tomorrow.

One witness said it appeared to be a jet plane, while others said the citation showed it was an eight-seater Cessna aircraft, usually used as a corporate jet.

One of the houses in Broadwater Gardens was completely destroyed when it was engulfed by fire and the neighbouring home also suffered significant damage.

Witnesses quickly hailed the pilot as a hero, claiming he had "done everything he could" to avoid the "loads" of people in the area enjoying their Sunday afternoon.

Residents in on the estate rushed out of their homes after the plane hit

Flames and smoke are billowing from the homes, with one local resident telling Sky News that all witnesses could see was "a big ball of fire".

The nearest open ground was just 100 yards away, another resident said, while witnesses claimed two houses were destroyed in the crash. The number of casualties is not yet known.

"(The pilot) obviously made a judgement call," a resident told Sky. Though there was open ground in the form of playing fields nearby, he said, there were "loads" of people on the fields enjoying their Sunday afternoon.

Video footage shows flames and smoke billowing out of the homes this afternoon

"He did everything he could to keep that plane away from people ... He made the right decision, whatever was going through his mind."

The witness also said he believed there were no people in the houses destroyed by the plane.

One of the houses was said to be "100 per cent alight" and another home "20 per cent alight".

A man named as John told Sky News how he was piloting another plane at Biggin Hill when he heard a mayday call come over.

He said the pilot said he was experiencing "severe engine vibrations" and the mayday was acknowledged. "You could hear alarms in the background."

"He reported five passengers," John said, adding that Biggin Tower told the pilot he was clear to land.

At least eight fire engines, four search and rescue teams and four ambulances were on the scene

The residential estate it next to woodland and it is believed the pilot was heading for the trees

A few seconds later the pilot came over the radio again to say the plane was coming in and it "nose-dived out of the sky.

"The radio went dead and black smoke came up."

He said he had the impression that the pilot had not been intending to land at Biggin Hill.
"Unfortunately he did not quite make it," he said.

Huge plumes of smoke could be seen from the crash site, which has playing fields and open land nearby. London Fire Brigade sent three urban search and rescue teams along with another search and rescue unit and several fire engines.

Reports claimed the plane's wheels were not down.

John Waite, who lives just quarter of a mile from where the plane came down, told Sky News: "I was just sitting in the garden and I heard this very loud engine noise.

A Cessna executive business jet - believed to be similar to the plane that crashed in Kent today - comes in to land at Farnborough Airport

"There was black smoke which was pouring out for about five minutes after the crash.

"At the moment the area is full of helicopters. One has landed at the back of the school which is nearby. "The smoke now seems to have stopped, maybe the fire is under control now."

Mr Waite said he and fellow members of the local residents' association had been concerned about the planes landing so close to the nearby Princess Royal Hospital.

He said: "They come over the hospital about 700ft above it."

Mr Waite added: "We have been trying to enable the Bromley Council to resist the expansion.

"I am just worried about those people in the plane. And all those people who were in the houses. I hope nobody was in the house at the time.

Karl Mills, who lives just across the road from the crash, also spoke to Sky News.

"It nearly hit my house. I thought it was going to hit us," he said.

"It was the loudest noise I have ever heard. All I could see was a big ball of fire and smoke coming from the house."

One resident said there had been concerns on the estate "for years" about the planes flying low over houses coming in and out of Biggin Hill Airport.

Lucy Hone said: "Everybody has been saying for years how low it is they come across and how easy it would be for them to hit one of the houses, which has now happened."

Ms Hone said the crash had occurred near a playing field where children from the estate were taking advantage of the fine weather to play.

"We heard a massive explosion and the whole estate shook," she said.

"The plane was very, very low. I thought it was going to hit the house right in front of us.

"The planes are very low coming over here but I have never seen anything like that.

"There were a lot of people running round screaming for their children. It was horrible."

Neighbour John Crane, who was one of the initial people on the scene, said he saw the plane at a "funny angle" flying with its tail down and nose up.

He described there being a "massive big red fireball and two or three explosions, obviously the fuel tank".

He said the flames were so fierce he could not get anywhere near.

"It sounded like a fighter jet" he told Sky, with the noise of the engine "screaming".

"It looked to me as though the pilot was trying to avoid the houses".

He said it was "either amazing flying by the pilot or a miracle that no one on the ground was hurt".

He said the plane clipped the end of a house and it was "terrifying, quite distressing".

Local Christine Diamond said two houses had been affected - one with its garage and car devastated and the house with its roof destroyed.

Ms Diamond, who said she lives in the small cul-de-sac, heard a noise like a lawnmower and her husband told her: "Get out, get out".

She told Sky the couple who lived at the house with the destroyed roof were on holiday.

"The lady's coming back today and her husband tomorrow," she said.