PATTAYA – Tom Grieve an award winning Scottish pilot has died after his aircraft plunged into the sea off Thailand while he was taking a passenger on a memorial journey for a friend who had passed away.
Tom Grieve, 57, was flying above Pattaya Bay on Saturday afternoon when his microlight lost power and his microlight plummeted 2,000ft towards the sea.
Friends who were on speedboats below to mark the occasion witnessed the crash and helped rescue the fatally injured pilot and his passenger.
Mr Grieve, formerly a member of the Connel Flying Club in Oban, was trying to execute an emergency landing when the aircraft clipped a newly constructed pier and crashed into the water.
He died in hospital from chest injuries while his passenger, Patrick Esser, 31, from Lyme Regis, Dorset, suffered a broken arm.
Speaking from the Pattaya Memorial Hospital, 100 miles east of Bangkok, he said they hit the water at around 70mph.
He added: “I was making a tribute to my best friend when suddenly things went terribly wrong.
“My friend Stuart Long had died of throat cancer aged just 41, and we were about to scatter his ashes in the sea. I had done a rehearsal flight the previous day with Tom and everything went fine.
“We were at about 2,000 feet when the engine cut. Tom tried several times to start it but failed.
“He was gliding it down and aiming for a large piece of concrete to land on. We must have been going about 70 miles per hour when we clipped something. We went head over heels and crashed into the water upside down.”
Mr Esser said he saw Mr Grieve surface and although he was in pain he “seemed okay”. He added that he did not reply when he tried to speak to him as they were taken to hospital and doctors were unable to resuscitate him.
Khun Prichar, who saw the crash, said the GT450 microlight circled three times close to Pratamnuk mountain before smoke started coming for the engine and it fell into the sea.
Mr Grieve, a Scot who lived in Pattaya and worked as an instructor at the Nongprue Flying Club, was an experienced pilot who had received two major awards for outstanding airmanship.
He learned to fly in Morpeth, Northumberland, and was well known in the Scottish Highlands, where he flew the “Dawn to Dusk”, taking off and landing at every inhabited island in the Orkney Islands in one day. He received an award from the Duke of Edinburgh for the feat.
Mr Grieve also made the first microlight flight across the North Sea, from Shetland to Norway, and won the Steve Hunt Award in 1977 for circumnavigating Australia anti-clockwise.
The Thai authorities are investigating the crash