A plane crash has left two people dead and a third seriously injured after a charity parachute jump went horribly wrong.
A mechanical failure caused the plane to crash land on a military firing range in Bere Regis, Dorset, where the two fatalities were confirmed as the pilot and the parachute instructor.
The four remaining passengers aboard the plane, owned by Dorset Parachute club, jumped out just prior to impact.
Matthew McGrath, who was parachuting for Leukaemia Research, praised the pilot and instructor’s bravery "We owe our lives to those guys, we wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for them".
Laura Cameron, who was also jumping, fractured her leg from the crash, but Kate Tong, Debbie Smith and McGrath are all unharmed.
There had been growing anxiety for the four charity jumpers who leapt from the plane, a mere 500ft in the air, half of the emergency parachuting height.
Having survived that, they were feared dead after landing on the military shooting range, where there are potentially hundreds of unexploded mines.
They were later rescued when, after gaining refuge in the woods, the army discovered their whereabouts.
Roger Daltrey, Lt of the Royal Armoured Core battalion, emphasised the dangers from which the group escaped "There’s a reason why this is a no go area, we fire over 70, 000 tank shells every year and they can ricochet anywhere".
He added that the crash itself was "the worst I’ve ever seen. The plane has literally been atomised".
The private passenger CESSNA 337 plane crashed at 10:20am, a mere 20 minutes after it took off from a private airfield en route to the jump.
The crash comes as a shock to Dorset Parachuting club, who recently checked the aircraft to ensure it met safety standards.
Big Mac, as he’s known at the club, stated "We’ve recently had an overhaul of our aircraft, so for this to happen is deeply distressing".
The co-owner though was quick to decline the pilot and instructor were at fault adding, "I’ve lost two great friends. They would have done their best not to harm anyone".
Mark: 72 (1st)