UPDATE: Helicopter crash at Ely - pilot declared dead

A MAN died after the helicopter he was flying crashed into a field in Witchford, near Ely, on Friday.

The single-engine helicopter went down at about 11.30am in a field at the rear of Lancaster Way Business Park, missing homes and businesses by just a few hundred yards.

Police, the Magpas helimedix team, East of England Ambulance crews and fire-fighters were raced to the scene but the man, who police confirmed is from Kent, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses reported seeing the helicopter plummet to the ground from about 500ft before breaking into pieces upon impact.

Police said the rotors were broken off in the crash, with parts of the helicopter strewn across several neighbouring fields.

Wayne Boyd, who works for Michell Instruments on Lancaster Way, said: “I was working outside in the field when I heard a loud bang, I turned around and saw the helicopter nose-diving to the floor, there was no smoke coming from it.

“It was at least five or six hundred feet in the ear when I heard a bang, and it just went straight down from there. There was a 4x4 that raced straight over to it and I think there was a hunt going on at the time as well.”

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Oliver Pym, who was carrying out refurbishment work on Lancaster Way, said: “We turned round when we heard a helicopter coming towards us and all of a sudden it stuttered and made a loud bang and then seemed to fold up and fall to the ground.

“It was quite a shocking thing to see, you just never expect anything like that to happen.”

The Air Accident Investigation Bureau (AAIB) took control of the crash scene from police shortly after 5pm and worked through the night to establish the cause of the accident.

The wreckage of the helicopter will not be moved from the scene until this morning (Saturday).

It is thought that the aircraft, a Robinson R22 two-seater, was on its way to an airport in Spalding, Lincolnshire when it went down.

Ch Insp Dave Sargent of Cambridgeshire Constabulary, said: “The pilot was the only person on board. His next of kin in Kent have been informed and are being supported by officers.

“The crash site has been secured pending an investigation by the Air Accident Investigation Bureau. A cordon has been placed around the crash site and will remain in place until the AAIB has completed its investigations.”