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Military jets 'seen nearby' at time of bike star's fatal helicopter crash

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Military jets 'seen nearby' at time of bike star's fatal helicopter crash

Post by Admin on Tue Apr 29, 2008 1:10 am

A HELICOPTER crashed killing a motorcycle champion shortly after two low-flying military jets passed nearby, an inquiry heard today.
An eyewitness reported seeing the jets flying on their sides through a valley around the time the helicopter Steve Hislop was piloting crashed in the Borders.

Hislop, 41, was the reigning British Superbike champion when he was killed after visiting friends in July 2003.

The helicopter, which he had borrowed from a friend, came down in moorland at a remote farm near Teviothead, off the A7 close to Hawick shortly after 11am.

A fatal accident inquiry into the death began at Edinburgh Sheriff Court today.

School auxiliary Maureen Briggs said she was in her garden when she heard a helicopter noise overhead, followed "seconds" later by the sound of jets and then a bang.

"Suddenly there was a terrific noise of two jets," said Mrs Briggs, 63, of Woodbrae Cottage in Teviothead.

"They were on their sides going up each side of the valley, very low. I heard them and saw. It was immediately after the helicopter," she said.

Fiscal depute John Kirk asked: "How long after the noise of the helicopter was it that you heard the jets?" and Mrs Briggs replied "seconds".

"Then there was this terrible bang of some kind, a really terrific noise. I thought it was a bit unusual," she added.

Alistair Cook, 36, a childhood friend of Hislop, told the court he saw a small helicopter flying overhead in Teviot then 30 seconds to two minutes later, heard jets.

"There was a hell of a noise right above my mother's house. I'm sure it was military jets that were very low," said Mr Cook, who said such aircraft were common in the area.

"My dog was used to the noise of the jets at the time and it came running in from the garden and lay on the floor underneath my legs. I got a fright as well," he added.

"It was like a sonic boom or something like that from the jets. I never heard anything after that."

Other witnesses spoke of seeing a Chinook helicopter in the area around the same time.

Hislop was born in Hawick and had spent three days staying with his friend Andrew Brodie, 48, near the Borders town after flying up from Buckinghamshire.

Mr Brodie said his friend had been "absolutely meticulous" in the planning of his flight south.

The strewn wreckage from the helicopter was discovered around at 4.30pm. A post-mortem examination revealed Hislop had died from multiple injuries caused by the crash.

The Ministry of Defence is being represented during the inquiry, which is expected to last a week.

Hailed as one of the fastest motorbike racers ever, Hislop - nicknamed 'Hizzy' - was a popular face at racetracks around the country and a regular race winner.

He won the British Superbike title in 1995 and 2002 and also won 11 races at the Isle of Man TT.

He also survived two horrific accidents during his career, breaking his neck at Brands Hatch in a 120mph crash in 2000 then breaking his leg, ankle and collarbone by crashing into a rival then a wall as he fought for a title at Rockingham.

His riding career was not without its problems, and Hislop lost sponsorships with Ducati and Yamaha then Kawasaki.

He lived on the Isle of Man before his death but had been planning to return to live in the Borders, the inquiry heard.



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