By David Wells
and Lyn Barton
A businessman and his wife have been killed in a plane crash on their way home from France to Britain – where their light aircraft was registered in Cornwall.
Carl Whiteley and his wife Kathryn, who are thought to own a second home in Newquay and kept the light aircraft at Perranporth, died as their plane ditched in the sea.
It was not clear last night whether they were heading back to their base at Perranporth, which has an airfield and a former Second World War Royal Air Force fighter station, via Jersey.
The couple, who are from Derbyshire, were over the English Channel when the Cessna plane crashed in thick fog about five miles west of Jersey Airport off the Channel island’s coast.
It is thought they had been travelling between the French port of Dinan, where there is an airport, and the Channel Islands before heading to the UK.
As poor visibility hampered the search for the plane after it ditched in the sea, HMS Northumberland, which is based at Devonport in Plymouth but which was in the area at the time, joined RNLI lifeboat crews and police as a rescue attempt was launched.
However, the operation turned to a recovery operation later in the morning with parts of the plane wreckage pulled from the sea.
The couple are thought to have used their second home as a holiday home, spending time enjoying the location overlooking the Gannel Estuary, near Newquay.
Mr Whitely held a pilot’s licence and listed flying, skiing and Nottingham Forest among his interests.
The couple had two children and lived in Ilkeston, in Borough of Erewash, in Derbyshire – close to Derby and Nottingham.
Mr Whitely is the former company secretary for Creo UK and Europe Ltd, based in Derby. He helped found financial consultancy firm Belmont Regency.
Brett Hannon, managing director of Belmont Regency Group Ltd, in Derby, paid tribute to the couple.
He said: “Belmont Regency Group Ltd are dismayed to hear of the death of one of our founder directors, Carl Whiteley, and his wife Kathryn. Our thoughts are with his family at this tragic time.
“Carl jointly founded the company in 1982 with myself and, apart from being business partners for over 31 years, Carl was a close friend who will be greatly missed.
“The fondest memories will remain with myself and our staff of our dear departed colleague.”
On his Linkedin page, Mr Whitely lists flying as one of his interests and states that he holds a multi engine instrument pilot licence.
The site adds that he has been director and senior financial adviser with Belmont Regency Ltd since January 1982.
On his Linkedin page, Mr Whitely says: “I have saved individuals and companies thousands of pounds each year in tax, just by understanding how their business works and adopting plans to maximise benefits.”
The States of Jersey Police had yet to formally identify the couple last night.
A spokesman said: “Following a comprehensive search and rescue mission by the RNLI, fire and rescue service, Channel Island Air Search and assisted by private boats and HMS Northumberland, we now believe there were no survivors of the crash.
“The States of Jersey Police will now be working alongside the Air Accidents Investigation Branch to establish what happened.”
“We have yet to formally identify the people on board but believe them to be two UK residents.
“Family liaison officers from Jersey are supporting the family of those we believe to be involved. We ask that those families are given privacy.
The plane was heading for Jersey Airport from Dinan in France at the time.
A Jersey Airport spokesman said parts of the wreckage were recovered. Police were called at 10.21am but no time has been given for when the aircraft lost radio contact.
AAIB investigators were travelling to the island to begin their inquiry and an operation was under way to recover the bodies, police said.
Jersey Airport put “flow control” in place after the crash to manage air traffic and warned that commercial flights could face some delays.
Paul Mott, a forecaster with MeteoGroup, the weather division of the Press Association, said: “Certainly there was some low cloud and fog around Jersey Airport and poor visibility this morning.
“It was about 200 metres at 7am.
“That gradually thinned, but by 9am it was still quite misty and still some fog and low cloud over the English Channel.”