The family of a former mechanic who died in a tragic plane crash have paid tribute to the “caring, kind and honest” man in a heartfelt tribute. Brian Statham, from Birmingham, was flying with his friend, Lee Rogers, from Wellesbourne Mountford airfield in Warwickshire to Le Touquet airport on the north coast of France on the morning of Saturday April 2 when their plane disappeared from radar .
They were traveling in a Piper PA-28R, registration: G-EGVA as part of a group from the South Warwickshire Flying School. Their plane is believed to have crashed in the English Channel after losing contact due to “abnormal weather conditions”, birmingham live reports.
A tourist spotted Brian’s flight bag on the beach in Le Touquet on Thursday, just five days after the tragic accident. The Air Accident Investigation Branch is currently conducting investigations into the crash.
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Brian spent 40 years working as a mechanic in Birmingham and ran a successful MOT and service garage. He grew up with his sisters in Castle Vale, Edington and has links to Coleshill.
He retired in 2021 and spent his time playing tennis, motorcycling and flying. Brian’s family paid a heartfelt tribute to him after his tragic death, describing him as ‘larger than life’ and ‘still living life to the fullest’.
The family said: “Brian was one of the most caring, kind and honest men in the world. He always put his family and friends first and never refused to solve or help solve the problems he encountered.
“Growing up locally with his two older sisters in Coleshill, he spent his teenage years riding motorbikes, going to nightclubs and fixing his friends’ cars. In his early twenties, Brian became a successful entrepreneur, managing then later buying a MOT and a maintenance garage in Château Val.
He spent over 40 years in the motor trade in Birmingham repairing, repairing and maintaining cars in the local community. Since retiring in 2021, he has spent his free time playing tennis, motorcycling and flying.”
The tribute continued: “Not only that, Brian was a larger than life character still living his life to the fullest. An avid skier, boat driver, mechanic, pilot, salsa dancer and family man. Brian met his co-pilot Lee Rogers at South Warwickshire Flying School and became good friends 10 years ago, sharing similar hobbies and a sense of humour.
“Brian leaves behind a son, Douglas, twin daughters, Ellen and Georgina, stepchildren Vickie and Jack, and a loving wife Jackie. Above all, he was always there to bring joy, love and happiness to his family and to his friends. He will be sadly missed by all.
“The Stathams would like to thank their family and friends for the flowers, cards and loving support during this very difficult time.” Brian’s family have also asked people to watch for aircraft debris or personal items along the shores of the beach if they are visiting the south coast of England or the French coast.
Lee Rogers’ family also paid tribute to the “wonderful dad” after his tragic passing. In a statement, they said: “It is with profound sadness that we announce the passing of a wonderful father, loving husband and devoted family man, Lee Rogers, who was taken from us in due to a tragic plane crash on Saturday, April 2.
“Lee was traveling as a passenger with his friend – with whom he had learned to fly – from Wellesbourne Mountford airfield in Warwickshire to Le Touquet in France. This trip was part of a group flight with South Warwickshire Flying School which included several other aircraft.
“After encountering abnormal weather conditions on the channel, contact was lost with Lee’s plane at around 10.30am. Despite intense British and French search and rescue operations, the search was called off on Sunday evening April 3. Therefore, we have no choice but to assume that Lee is deceased.
The statement continued: “Anyone who knew Lee will bear witness to a larger than life character who lived his life to the fullest, a man of great heart and boundless generosity. A skilled and enthusiastic pilot, a lover of all manner of machinery fast and noisy, which also included a newfound love of yachting.
“He will leave a great wake behind him and will be greatly missed – not only by his family but by his legion of friends and colleagues. Lee was and always will be a legendary figure in the IT world and Warwickshire community, most of whom will have a humorous story or two to tell about him.
“Not only a successful entrepreneur, known for his principled and uncompromising code of ethics, Lee was also a sincere supporter of various charities.
“Most recently, Lee supported Guide Dogs and raised not only a puppy ‘Dixon’ who became a guide dog, but a lot of money for other dogs. Part of the legacy of a wonderful human being .
The tribute added: “But first and foremost, Lee was a family man. Sarah has been married to Lee for eight years and they were happy for many years before. Not just a great marriage, but great partners who shared great real adventures.
“Ellie, Lee’s daughter, and the apple of her eye was her greatest joy. Lee had a daily story to tell about her baby girl, another larger-than-life character who mirrors her parents in all the best ways.
“It’s not fair that Ellie is separated from her father so young, or that Sarah is deprived of her husband long before her time or that Lee’s parents and sister lose a son and a brother. Life isn’t fair, but few people leave a legacy like Lee, even though they’ve had a hundred lifetimes.
“We thank you for all your kind words and tributes. Know that everything is appreciated. We would also like to thank the efforts of the British and French coastguards, who did everything they could. We will soon let everyone know how we plan to honor Lee. In the meantime, we would ask for some time to mourn as a family.