Death crash pilot Martin Gresswell cleared: Eight died when plane's engine failed
AN East Yorkshire pilot has been cleared of any blame for a plane crash in which eight people died.
Martin Gresswell, 51, died with seven of his passengers when his Cessna 208 plane crashed moments after take-off.
Now, his mum Barbara Hoad has told how an air accident investigation found the engine failed due to corrosion on the compressor blades, clearing him of any responsibility close to the first anniversary of his death.
Mrs Hoad, 79, said: "It was 100 per cent engine failure and definitely not Martin's fault.
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"In our hearts, we knew it wasn't pilot's error because we had flown with him and he was a good pilot.
"But that's a mother talking.
"Now it's official.
"To have it confirmed it wasn't Martin's fault makes me feel easier.
"Nothing will bring him back but it's nice to know his name is clear."
The investigation into the crash, in the Okavango Delta, Botswana, is approaching its final stages but is not yet complete.
Although it was never suggested Martin was at fault, Barbara, of west Hull, said it is important to have the cause confirmed.
"People who knew him when he was at school should know he has been cleared," she said.
"He piloted two planes I have been on and he used to take me on Safari. Martin flew me there for my 70th birthday. Landing a plane in those areas can't be easy.
"But he was a very good pilot."
Martin was born in Hessle and was a former Hull Trinity House School pupil.
More recently he lived with his wife Claire and 13-year-old daughter Tanisha in Africa.
Claire, 37, met Martin, who flew tourists to luxury safari resorts, in Botswana in 1997.
In a statement after his death, Moremi Air, for whom Martin worked as general manager of air operations, described him as its "most seasoned pilot", with more than 12,000 hours of flying.
Barbara said it has been a difficult year and she is still struggling to come to terms with the death of her son.
"It's been terrible," she said.
"All I remember is letting out this awful yell when I heard from Claire. Then I had to ring my other son, Stephen, and he was the same.
"Martin was a lovely son. He was so thoughtful."
Martin moved to Canada when he was six, before returning to Hessle at the age of eight.
Martin, whose father owned bike shop Gresswell And Sons in Hessle Road, west Hull, often spoke of fond memories of playing football and hide and seek in the streets around his home as he grew up.
He joined the Army in 1980 before moving to Germany, where he was an officer in the British Army Intelligence Corps.
In 1991, Martin moved to San Diego to complete his pilot's licence and then flew across the US to build up his experience.
He went to Maun in Botswana in January 1997, where he met Claire.
The couple moved to Kenya a year later and Martin then flew on UN mercy missions in Somalia and Sudan. They returned to Botswana in January last year to be close to Claire's family and Martin began working for Moremi Air.
Claire said it gives her comfort to know her husband's name has been cleared and the engine manufacturing company has confirmed engine failure.
But she said she remains angry as she believes the crash could have been prevented.
She said: "There was nothing Martin could have done.
"To have it confirmed it wasn't pilot error was a relief."
The first anniversary of Martin's death was on Sunday.
Claire, who spent 15 years with Martin, said she misses her soul mate and it is difficult for Tanisha growing up without her father.
"It's very hard not having him there to talk to or, if I'm having a bad day, vent to him," she said.
"Our daughter goes through things and he's not there to share it. That's the hardest thing.
"There are things he's missing I know would be amazing for him."