CarFest Plane Crash: Gnat Display Team Pilot Kevin Whyman Dies During Stunt At Chris Evans Founded Event

The pilot who was killed when his aircraft plummeted from the sky during an aerial display in front of horrified spectators at an event in Cheshire, has been named as Kevin Whyman.

The 35 year-old, who was known as Kev 'Jester' Whyman to his friends in the Gnat Display Team, was married and had a young daughter.

The accident happened shortly after 2pm at CarFest in Oulton Park, created by TV and radio presenter Chris Evans.

A tearful Evans confirmed the death this afternoon and said the pilot's family had been informed. He said there had been a "tragic accident, the result of which was one of the pilots involved in a synchro display lost his life".

The new Top Gear host, who had opened the event on Friday, added: "Our condolences go out to his family who have been informed.

"The police have also advised us that the best thing and the safest thing to do is to carry on with the event bearing in mind that there are 10,000 children here - and that is what we are going to do."

He said it would be "completely inappropriate" to speculate on how the accident happened. Evans said he would give a tribute to the pilot at a later point.

Visitors to the motoring and music festival, which raises money for BBC Children in Need, tweeted photos of smoke rising near the scene of the event and spoke of shock after witnessing the crash.

One witness wrote on Twitter: "Feel sick I just witnessed a plane crash at carfest. Literally flew over my head and blew up on a ball of flames in a field."

Others described horrified spectators screaming as a plane nose dived suddenly during a display.

A statement from Heritage Aircraft Trust which runs the team said: "Kevin was a Royal Air Force trained fast jet pilot whose enthusiasm for flying the Folland Gnat was infectious. He will be greatly missed by his family, the Team and many friends.

"Kevin leaves a wife and young daughter. Please respect the privacy of family members and of the team at this most difficult time."

The jet was one of two involved in the display at the motor racing track in Little Budworth - with the other landing safely nearby.

Video posted on Twitter showed the crash aftermath:

While another user posted video of the moments before the crash:

Witness Adam Ignatowicz told the BBC: "I was at the shop. There were two planes flying around. One of them just seemed to do a dive where the car park is. Then there was a bang.

"There were emergency services running through. Air Ambulance is there now. Everyone's questioning what's happening. Everyone realised what had happened. The other plane went straight over to see what was happening."

Evans tweeted soon after the crash: "I am very sad to announce there has been a serious air incident at CarFest North off site. The emergency services are in attendance."

Other celebrities, including The Great British Bake Off's Paul Hollywood and fellow TV chef and motoring enthusiast James Martin, were also due to attend the event.

Cheshire police said the plane came down in a wooded area near Oulton Park shortly after 2pm.

The plane was part of the Gnat Display Team based North Weald Airfield and part of the Heritage Aircraft Trust. The unit are billed as the only civilian supersonic jet aerobatic display team in the world.

The team is owned and operated by Heritage Aircraft Limited, the trading arm of The Heritage Aircraft Trust, a charity registered in England & Wales. It's believed the two planes were ex-Red Arrows jets.

Chester Chronicle journalist Mark Dowling told the Manchester Evening News that there were two aircraft doing a dual display.

"I thought one of them appeared to be a bit low. It was upside down when I saw it go behind some trees, then suddenly there was a huge smoke cloud and flames.

"There was a gasp from the crowd. People are really worried, hoping that the pilot managed to eject.

"It looked like the plane landed in a field about half a mile north of the circuit."

The festival, which opened on Friday and closes tomorrow, was also due to hear performances from the likes of Joss Stone and Primal Scream.

CarFest is described on its Twitter profile as Evans's "dream of the perfect family festival", featuring cars, planes and music. The event is continuing despite the crash.

Evans is a car enthusiast who has just become the new presenter of Top Gear.

He is taking over from Jeremy Clarkson whose contract was not renewed after he punched a member of the show's staff during a fracas. Former Top Gear co-hosts Richard Hammond and James May have now also teamed up with Clarkson for a motoring show on Amazon.

An Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) spokesman said: "AAIB will be investigating and is sending a team to the site."