A coroner has accused the RAF of plunging standards in “administration, airmanship and discipline” following the deaths of three servicemen during a low-level Puma helicopter flight.
A cockpit voice recording also showed the crew laughing and whooping noises moments before the aircraft banked sharply to the right and crashed tail-first into a field in North Yorkshire in Aug 2007.
The pilot Flight Lt David Sale, 28, Sgt Phillip Burfoot, 27, the loadmaster, and Private Sean Tait, 17, died in the crash near Catterick Garrison.
Coroner Geoff Fell criticised the administration of RAF Benson, where the RAF members were based.
"Against a background of deteriorating administration, airmanship and discipline, the helicopter crashed," he told the Harrogate inquest.
Flight Lt Sale, of 33 Squadron, based at RAF Benson, did not have the skills to carry out the low level flying manoeuvre which led to the crash.
Recording a narrative verdict Mr Fell said the crew were "inexperienced" and were undertaking their first trip without an instructor watching them.
He added that nobody seemed to have laid out the ground rules to the crew including the pilot who had just over 500 hours flying time.
Flying on the day of the crash "seems to have taken place at less than 100ft" and he added that the tactical manoeuvres were "excessive in number and irregularity".
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