The pilot of a light aircraft that crashed after a mid-air collision was described yesterday by neighbours as a dynamic man who lived life to the full.
Peter Leigh, aged 60, died alongside his passenger, 67-year-old David Sims, when the two-seater Luscombe Silvaire they were in collided with a second aircraft and crashed in the Staffordshire countryside shortly after noon on Sunday.
The pilot and two passengers in the Pacific Aerospace 350 XL managed to escape serious injury after an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport, 25 miles away.
Neighbour Geraldine Topham, aged 61, of Clayton, Newcastle-under-Lyme, said she had known Mr Leigh for ten years.
She said: "He was such a dynamic man. The only word I can think of to describe him was adventurous. He and his wife, Geraldine, absolutely lived life to the full. They were always trying something new. I remember looking out of my kitchen window once and seeing him riding out of his driveway on a motorbike with his wife on the back. Both of them were head-to-toe in leathers. That was what he was like - never still for a second."
Mr Leigh and Mr Sims, who lived in Caistor Close, Melton, Stoke-on-Trent, were described by police as friends who enjoyed a shared interest in flying.
They had taken off from an airstrip in Abbots Bromley, close to the field where they crashed next to Blithfield Reservoir.
The Pacific Aerospace 350 XL, which was carrying police sergeant Rupert Johnston and his 10-year-old son James, was being flown by pilot Mike Carruthers. It had taken off from Cark airfield in Cumbria, home to the North West Parachute Centre.
It was flying to Cranfield, near Milton Keynes, where it was due to undergo its annual maintenance check.
Sgt Johnston said in a statement: "My thoughts are with the families of the two who died. We were on a pre-arranged trip with my son James and my friend, the pilot Mike Carruthers, who is also from Cumbria.
"Our aircraft was badly damaged and we had to make an emergency landing at East Midlands Airport."
It is not known what caused the accident, which happened outside of controlled airspace. But light aircraft enthusiast George Foster, aged 55, from Teddington, Middlesex, said that when he was flying in the area last week, visibility was poor.
He said: "I was flying into the sun and I was glad there were two pilots on board.
"It's particularly tricky at this time of year. When the sun is low on the horizon it can be quite difficult to see something."