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Tributes paid to Camberley pilot couple killed in Leicester helicopter crash

Tributes paid to Camberley pilot couple killed in Leicester helicopter crash

Published by the Eagle Radio News Team at 6:40pm 29th October 2018.

Tributes have been paid to the Camberley couple killed in the tragic helicopter crash in Leicester on Saturday.

Eric Swaffer and Izabela Roza Lechowicz died along with Leicester City owner Vichai Srivaddhanaprabha and two members of his staff, Nursara Suknamai and Kaveporn Punpare, when his helicopter lost control shortly after taking off from the club's stadium.

The pair, who had lived in Camberley for a number of years, were both pilots - although Ms Lechowicz was a passenger during the crash.

Some eyewitnesses have hailed Mr Swaffer as a hero, for appearing to manage to steer the helicopter away from crowds, potentially saving many more lives.

Sky Sports News cameraman Dan Cox was walking across the car park as the helicopter came overhead. 

Mr Cox told Sky News:

"I don't know how the pilot did it but he seemed to manage to slow down the spinning rotation and it drifted off into the corner part of the car park.

"To my mind the pilot was heroic and the two police officers in front of me, who also tried to help, they are heroes too.

"It could have been so much worse if the pilot hadn't done that."

Eric Swaffer
Mr Swaffer pictured with the Dalai Lama in 2015.

Mr Swaffer has been described as a skilled pilot with nearly 20 years of experience flying. He worked at EasyJet for six years before becoming a contract pilot.

He met Ms Lechowicz when he was working as an airline pilot, and she went on to train in aviation after he took her out for a few flights.

Ms Lechowicz was named one of the 18 most inspiring Polish women in the UK by the Polish Embassy in March.

She had moved to the UK from Poland in 1997 for a language course, but was inspired to try flight training after meeting Mr Swaffer.

In a statement the Polish Embassy said:

"It is with great sadness that we received news of the death of Izabela Lechowicz in the Leicester helicopter crash.

"She was a wonderful pilot and a #Polka100 campaign finalist who created a positive image of Poland in the UK.

"Our deepest condolences to her family. Rest in peace." 

The investigation into the cause of the crash is ongoing with the Air Accidents Investigation Branch confirming it will take place in Farnborough.

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