Widow of North Yorkshire Lord Lieutenant pays tribute to 'wonderful man' after inquest rules helicopter crash was tragic accident

Barry Dodd, 70, died from multiple injuries following the crash in Aldborough near Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire on May 30, 2018.
Barry Dodd, 70, died from multiple injuries following the crash in Aldborough near Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire on May 30, 2018.

The widow of a North Yorkshire Lord Lieutenant who died in a tragic helicopter crash in 'very challenging' weather conditions described her husband as a wonderful man.

Barry Dodd, 70, died from multiple injuries following the crash in Aldborough near Boroughbridge, North Yorkshire on May 30, 2018.

An inquest held into his death today heard how he was "meticulous with safety" and was taking the Bell 206B helicopter for a maintenance check in Pontefract, when he encountered low-level cloud.

Witnesses described seeing the helicopter climbing into low level cloud before spinning anticlockwise and descending rapidly to the ground, crashing into a rapeseed field and bursting into flames.

A jury took just 30 minutes to conclude the crash was as a result of a tragic accident.

Speaking after the inquest, Frances Dodd, said: "Barry will be remembered as a wonderful man whose life and legacy was underpinned by his thoughtful nature and selfless generosity.

"He was known in the business community as an inspirational entrepreneur and led by example providing employment in rural areas and opportunities for the young.

"He was awarded an OBE in 2006 for his services to business and the economy in Yorkshire, and a CBE in 2014 for services to the UK economy and voluntary service to the community."

The couple were married for 39 years and lived together at Thormanby Hall in North Yorkshire at the time of the crash.

Read more: Lord Lieutenant who was 'meticulous with safety' crashed helicopter in 'very challenging' weather conditions - inquest hears

Mrs Dodd said: "This tragic accident resulted in the loss of a husband, friend, entrepreneur who worked with charities in North Yorkshire. He died pursuing one of his hobbies.

"Whilst his loss has been devastating, Barry would have wanted those who knew him to move forward. It has been a long and trying time waiting for this inquest and we ask that our privacy now be respected."

The inquest heard how Mr Dodd had part-owned the helicopter with his friend and neighbour Richard Menage for 14 years.

Mr Menage said: "Barry was very cautious when it came to flying. He was always compliant with his testing and meticulous with pre-flight safety check and would err on the side of caution."

Mr Dodd had accumulated 250 flying hours. He had last flown the helicopter 77 days before the accident.

On the day in question, he had planned to take the helicopter for its annual check at Walton Wood Airfield in Pontefract, and had gone to Mr Menage's house, where the aircraft was kept at around 9.30am.

He decided not to fly due to poor visibility, but returned a couple of hours later when the weather had improved and completed the relevant safety checks.

He departed at 1.17pm for the 25 minute trip to Pontefract.

But just minutes into the flight Mr Dodd appeared to be "struggling" and the helicopter began climbing into the clouds.

Air accident investigators described how challenging this would have been for a pilot.

Inspector Robert Clements said: "It is a very disorientating experience. Mr Dodd would have practised this during training but in training you know it's coming and you are mentally prepared but when it happens for real, it is very challenging.

"It can be so disorientating that the pilot would not know which way was up."

Investigators explored five possible explanations as to why the crash occurred, including disorientation, distraction, avoiding action, a minor medical condition and a minor technical fault, but could not say "with any certainty" why the helicopter pitched up.

Mr Clements said: "We do know its very challenging to fly in cloud, especially when you are not used to flying in these conditions."

No defects with the helicopter were found.

Heartbreakingly the inquest heard Mr Dodd and Mr Menage had planned to sell the helicopter prior to the crash, but Mr Dodd had previously donated a flight at a charity auction and was waiting for the winners to take their prize.

A jury took just 30 minutes to return a conclusion of accidental death.

A jury foreman said: "On 30 May 2018, whilst piloting a helicopter in challenging weather conditions, Barry John Dodd crashed at Aldborough. He was pronounced dead at 2.15pm."