Published: 12:00, 18 September 2014
The children of a Kent man killed in a helicopter crash this week have paid a heartfelt tribute to "a fantastic Dad and a brilliant pilot".
Father-of-two Brian Bridgman, 58, died when the aircraft he was flying plummeted into the sea off the coast of Flamborough in Yorkshire on Tuesday.
His passenger and friend John Kent, 50, from Romford, in Essex, was also pronounced dead at the scene.
Mr Bridgman's son Tim, 29, released a statement today on behalf of himself and his 31-year-old sister Katie.
He said: "My sister and I could not be more proud of our father. He was a fantastic dad and a brilliant pilot.
"He was not only a commercial pilot, but was also a qualified flying instructor, and a Civil Aviation Authority approved flight examiner.
"My father absolutely loved flying. He sold his engineering business four years ago so that he could pursue his passion full time."
"Dad was always great company, and had a massive circle of friends. He will be hugely missed by everyone he knew, and all those whose lives he touched."
Freelance Chief Pilot Bridgman worked with Heli Charter, based in Manston, and was responsible for conducting flying tests for new and existing commercial pilots.
Originally from Loughton in Essex, he is thought to have lived in Canterbury for the past few years.
Mr Bridgman was described as a "very experienced freelance pilot" who had 4,000 hours of flying experience under his belt.
An investigation into the crash, which took place at around 1.30pm, is being led by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).
Witnesses reported hearing a "crack" before watching the helicopter plummet into the sea below sheer 250ft cliffs.
The bodies of the men were recovered on Tuesday afternoon, but attempts to salvage wreckage yesterday were hampered by bad weather and the site's proximity to cliffs.
Investigations are continuing at the site today, an AAIB spokesman said.
Humberside Police are working alongside the AAIB and are offering support to the families of the two men, a police spokesman said.
A spokesman for Heli Charter said Mr Bridgman's Agusta/Bell 206 helicopter had lost contact with air traffic control at about 1.40pm.
The chopper was owned by a company in Hampshire, but was hangared, operated and maintained by Heli Charter at Manston.
Further information on what may have caused the helicopter to crash has not yet been released.
The spokesman added: "We would like to extend our deepest sympathy to the family and friends of Brian and John."
Chris Feast, from Flamborough Head Golf Club, said a number of golfers had spotted a helicopter trying to land near the 17th green and then reported hearing a "loud bang and crash".
Witness Barry Rhodes, 71, spoke of his shock. He said: "I was just playing a round of golf with friends when we spotted a helicopter that seemed to be in a bit of bother.
"It looked as though it was coming into land on the cliff top. But as it did, there was a loud screech and then the engine cut out."
He added: "The helicopter just dropped to the ground at speed. The drop is at least 200ft. It hit the bottom of the cliff that meets with the sea.
"It was the most horrific thing I have ever seen. We felt helpless because there was nothing any of us could have done. We can't believe what has happened."
Video: Footage from the RNLI shows crews approaching the crash
A Humberside Police spokesman said: "The investigation into the incident which resulted in the aircraft crashing into the sea is being led by the Air Accident Investigation Branch (AAIB).
"Meanwhile Humberside Police continue to work alongside the AAIB and are offering support to the families of the two deceased men."
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