Two men have died in a microlight accident after taking off from the same airfield in Normandy where a similar accident happened in 2011.
The men, aged 61 and 63 from Bretteville-en-Saire and Carentan, died instantly after the aircraft crashed just after taking off from the airfield at Lessay in the Manche.
Eye witnesses said that the aircraft seemed to be in distress when it took off and the four stroke engine did not sound normal. It was not following a normal trajectory when it crashed in a field next to the Lessay to Haye-du-Puits road near the Route 66 disco.
â€˜The impact of the crash was extremely violent. They could not have survived,â€™ said a gendarme spokesman from Coutances. He added that the accident was seen by drivers on the nearby road who alerted the emergency services and went to help but could do nothing for the two men.
Firemen from Lessay, Haye-du-Puits and Coutances attended the scene of the accident just after 6pm on Wednesday evening.
â€˜There was unfortunately nothing we could do. The aircraft was totally destroyed and the two occupants were killed instantly,â€™ said a spokesman for the fire chiefâ€™s office in Coutances.
One of the dead men was a member of the local flying club in Carentan and both were described as experienced pilots.
Lydia Warolin, deputy prosecutor for Coutances, also attended the scene and an inquiry into the deaths has been opened by the air transport police department at Rennes. An engine problem is one line of investigation as as there were no adverse weather conditions at the time.
However, the French ULM federation said that the aircraft concerned is able to hover so if the engine fails the pilot should be able to land it. But a spokesman added that a height of 300 to 500 meters is needed to be able to perform such a manouevre safely. A spokesman for the Centre Aeronautique airfield at Lessay did not want to make a comment.
Two pensioners from the Eure died near the same airfield in August 2011. Gerard Ragot, 63, and Jean Pierre Casabo, 65, had stopped at Lessay to refuel when the engine stalled after take off.