Military Heli Pilot Denies Blame For Cessna Crash

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A British military helicopter pilot says his aircraft didn't cause a Cessna landing on a nearby runway to suddenly veer off the pavement. Flt. Lieut. Peter Binstead was taking off adjacent to the runway as Hugh Paton was landing at St. Mawgan Airport in Cornwall when Paton's plane left the runway and crashed in flames. Paton's wife and two daughters got out of the burning plane but Paton later died from severe burns. The 2001 crash was the subject of an inquest last week. Although the ministry of defense and Binstead have denied responsibility for the crash, the British government paid the family about $8 million in an out-of-court settlement. Binstead told the inquest he was about 50 feet above the ground and about halfway between the taxiway and runway when the accident occurred. Paton's wife Elizabeth said she could hear the helicopter in spite of her headset and the plane began to rock from side to side "as if in a whirlwind." She said her husband tried desperately to control the plane but couldn't. "The situation seemed impossible and I said to Hugh, 'Is this it?' and he replied 'I'm afraid so,'" she told the inquest. "There was a clear sense of finality and catastrophe and I said, 'Oh lovely.'"