A MILLIONAIRE who crashed his new helicopter killing himself and his wife was an inexperienced pilot who was attempting to fly in windy conditions, investigators have concluded.

Paul Spencer, 43, and his wife, Linda, 59, died in January last year when their Gazelle helicopter crashed in woodland near Harrogate, North Yorkshire.

A report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) concluded that the pilot’s inexperience, coupled with his inadequate training, were the probable causes of the accident.

Wholesale goods entrepreneur Mr Spencer, of Brighouse, West Yorkshire, crashed near a chalet the couple owned in the grounds of the luxury Rudding Park Hotel.

The report said Mr Spencer had expected to meet his family when he arrived at the chalet, but found they had gone on a shopping trip to nearby Knaresborough.

The Spencers then took off in the Gazelle and circled the area of the shopping centre before flying back towards the hotel grounds.

The aircraft was travelling slowly and low to the ground when it was seen to spin around before pitching up and striking trees tail first.

The report said: “From the evidence, it appears that the pilot, who had limited helicopter experience, was attempting to operate in weather conditions which more experienced pilots might have chosen to avoid.

“His colleagues stated that they had been surprised by the pilot’s decision to undertake the flight from the hotel and the conditions were such that, had they known his intentions, they would have tried to dissuade him from doing so.”

It continued: “It is possible that the enthusiasm of having just taken delivery of the aircraft overcame any concerns about the weather.

“It is also possible that the same enthusiasm led to the low-level nature of the flight around the shopping centre where family members were believed to be present.”

The AAIB said the Serbianregistered helicopter’s engine had been overhauled by an organisation not approved for that type of engine.

Investigators made a number of recommendations, including one to the Civil Aviation Authority to look at helicopter pilot training regulations.