An inquest into a plane crash which tragically claimed a pilot’s life has ruled it was an accident.

Stuart Penfold was conducting a test flight when his Luton Minor, G-AWMN, crashed into an airfield near Belchamp Walter on February 3.

The 55-year-old, who was a member of the Braintree District Motorcycle Club, died of multiple traumatic injuries.

The inquest heard there was not enough evidence to conclude why the plane had crashed.

The cause of the incident remains a mystery.

Mr Penfold’s wife of 33 years, Carol, said her husband had died doing what he loved.

She said: “Because he loved his planes so much, if he was going to die, that was he perfect way, but I don’t think he meant to go so soon.”

Mr Penfold had over 300 hours of flying experience, 150 of which were in G-AWMN.

His wife said: “He will be dearly missed as a father, grandfather and husband.

“Stuart just got up and saw it was a clear day and decide to go for his first flight of the year.

“I thought I would see him later – it’s very sad.

“He was just a lovely, kind man. He had lots of friends and he would do anything for them.”

She went on to thank the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) after it investigated the crash and released a report but said it was not possible to definitively determine the cause of the accident.

The team behind the investigation also took Mrs Penfold to see the plane wreckage in Farnborough earlier this month.

Investigator Robert Clemence told the inquest how ice may have caused the engine to lose power.

He said: “The investigation found the engine may have stopped due to carburettor icing and it was possible the pilot wasn’t able to react quickly enough.

“A witness saw the aircraft bank sharply to the right and descent about 45 degrees, before hearing it hit the ground.”

The coroner’s court also heard how during its investigations, the AAIB was unable to locate the turnbuckles in the wreckage.

It is unclear whether they were missing prior to the incident.

Coroner Caroline Beasley-Murray recorded that the crash was an accident.

She said: “It was clear Stuart was fit enough to fly.

“I would like to thank the AAIB for the thoroughness of the investigation and for the clarity of the report we have heard as well.”

The inquest was also told that there were no suspicious circumstances surrounding the incident.