Two West Midland company directors died when a helicopter crashed and burst into flames in farmland in Gloucestershire after disappearing into a bank of heavy cloud.

Rod Paskey, aged 55, from Fazeley, near Tamworth, was among three people killed when the ex-military Gazelle helicopter came down in dark, wintry weather in Winchcombe on Saturday.

A passenger, believed to be Laurence Bailey, also 55, an executive of Cunningham Cash Registers. in Wythall, was also killed.

Mr Paskey, who was thought to have been the pilot, was a director of Dekko Exclusive Gifts, of Strawberry Lane Industrial Estate, Willenhall, a craft materials company.

The third victim was a woman, whose identity has not been released.

Mr Paskey, known to friends as Rod or Rick, co-owned the helicopter with fellow flying enthusiast Christopher Evans, from Atherstone, North Warwickshire, who was not involved in the tragedy.

Mr Evans’ wife Sarah confirmed that Mr Paskey had lost his life in the crash when the 34-year-old helicopter exploded after losing visibility.

Speaking from the couple’s home in Baxterley, near Atherstone, where the helicopter was stored in a paddock, she said: “Rick’s wife Carol phoned us yesterday to tell us what had happened.

“It was awful, a horrible, horrible day. It was definitely Rick in the helicopter. I don’t know who else was with him.”.

She said that her husband and Mr Paskey had shared a common interest in flying and had owned the helicopter for three or four years.

A friend of Mr Bailey, who lived in Stratford-upon-Avon, described the incident as a "terrible tragedy".

He added: “He was such a generous guy. The business had been going from strength to strength and he was going to become a grandfather.

“I believe they were on their way from Stratford to Somerset to get the helicopter serviced. Laurence was a very popular guy and will be terribly missed.”

Clive Quinn, managing director of Cunningham Cash Registers, said: “At this stage, we have no comment to make. The police haven’t released any names as yet apart from the pilot’s and I believe there is a post mortem today at Cheltenham hospital.”