Kevin Whyman’s inexperience with a certain type of jet aircraft was a factor in the fatal crash which took his life, investigators said.
A report by Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) into the former King’s School pupil’s death has been released.
It stated the airman carried out an 'inappropriately-timed' action as he tried to recover once the nose of his jet had dropped during a roll which ‘made the situation irrecoverable’.
The 39-year-old left a wife and young daughter.
Mr Whyman was performing with the Gnat Display Team at the motoring festival organised by Top Gear presenter Chris Evans.
He was flying by the crowd at Oulton Park and had already completed one 360-degree roll before going into a second.
But during this roll to the left the nose dropped and the pilot’s attempts to correct it back to the right ‘increased the rate of descent’.
An examination of his Folland Gnat aircraft found ‘no evidence of a pre-existing problem which could have led to the accident’.
'A terrible thing to have happened'
At the time Mr Evans paid tribute to the pilot, who was nicknamed ‘Jester’ by his friends in the display team.
He said: “It was a terrible thing to have happened, the likes of which none of us ever want to witness again.
“But Kevin loved life, he lived it to the full every minute of every day so the best thing we could do to pay tribute to his memory is to try to do the same, which we most certainly will.”
The AAIB noted that Mr Whyman suffered from a heart condition - discovered in 2000 - that was not declared during medicals to obtain a civilian flying licence, but there was no evidence that this could have caused the crash.
He had not flown high performance, swept wing aircraft before converting onto the Gnat and had a 'low average annual flying rate' of 12 hours over the past five years, the AAIB said.
The report stated that these two factors 'contributed to the pilot’s inability to recover'.
He made no attempt to eject, it was added.
The full conclusion read: “The aircraft was carrying out an aileron roll at low level when, at an angle of bank of 107° to the left, the nose attitude dropped relative to the horizon.
“The pilot applied an appropriate roll input, probably in an attempt to recover, but then applied an inappropriately-timed pitch input.
“The pitch input led to a high rate of descent, caused the aircraft to depart from controlled flight and made the situation irrecoverable in the height available.
“The pilot’s experience and currency were considered to be contributory factors.”
In the report are a number of safety recommendations to prevent a similar accident.
These include an amendment on ‘minimum aerobatic heights for pilots of high performance jet aircraft’ and more stringent medical examinations for pilots.
After leaving King’s, Mr Whyman went on to study economics at Cambridge where he coxed the university team to victories over Oxford in 1996 and 1997.
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He then trained as a pilot with the RAF, but changed career to become a mortgage trader in London.