French Alps plane crash: Second British victim was teenage aviation enthusiast

The second British victim of a plane crash in the French Alps was a teenage aviation enthusiast, it has emerged.

Lewis Stubbs, 18, had been on the “trip of a lifetime” with friends when the light aircraft carrying him and pilot Andrew Buck, 37, crashed close to the Italian border on Wednesday.

French authorities said another pilot from their group escaped with only minor injuries after crashing his own plane nearby.

Mr Stubbs had been part of a five-plane flying expedition from Newcastle to Malta organised by friends from the North-East of England.

Posts on social media suggested he was interested in video editing and in April he shared a trailer for the forthcoming trip which he had apparently helped create. 

Andrew BuckCredit:
 @mr.buck_/Instagram

The teenager said the film was for a “current project” he had been working on with Eshott Airfield in Northumberland, where his companions for the journey were based. 

Just hours before the crash, Mr Buck had likewise posted pictures taken from the cockpit of the aircraft as it soared through clear blue skies above Barcelonnette-Saint-Pons airstrip.

Both of the affected planes took off from the same runway in the Alpes-de-Haute-Provence region in southern France a short while later. 

The aircraft carrying Mr Buck and Mr Stubbs plummeted into woodland over the Maddalena Pass, on the French border with Italy. 

Purple Aviation, a company based at Eshott Airfield, said in a statement that it had not organised the expedition, but its two directors were part of the travelling group.

It claimed that, contrary to previous reports, "no mid air collision" took place between the two planes, with the surviving pilot instead pulling off a "well executed forced landing". 

A picture of a plane from Andrew Buck's Instagram accountCredit:
 @mr.buck_/instagram

French authorities are investigating the causes of the accident, including whether there had been any contact between the planes prior to the crash, a source in France said. 

Richard Pike, one of the Purple Aviation directors, said: “This was a group of experienced pilots and close friends embarking on the trip of a lifetime, which has been planned over the last year.”

He added: “Everyone involved has been devastated by this tragic accident…we have lost two brilliant friends today.”

The group of five aircraft left Northumberland on Sunday and was due to reach Malta on Saturday, after several stages of the journey, the company statement said.

"The pilot who died was flying an aircraft loaned by Purple Aviation as part of the support network for the trip," it continued.

"The passenger in the plane, who was also killed in the crash, was another close friend."

Mr Buck’s sister, Lisa Crowe, has launched a crowd-funding appeal to help repatriate his body and “take the financial burden” off her parents while they grieve.

Ms Crowe said on a GoFundMe page: "My husband Steve and I are beyond grateful for everyone’s kind words and support at this time and I know my parents feel the same."