A Herstmonceux pilot died in a plane crash in Spanish mountains.
David Hockings, 67, was flying from Portugal to Kent with friend Simon Moores when their light aircraft collided with Hernio mountain, in the Basque region of Spain, on Wednesday (January 9), killing them both.
Mr Hockings was an experienced pilot and ran Cristal Air Ltd, an aircraft maintenance company based in Seddlescombe.
He was also the master of Southbourne Lodge in Eastbourne for two years, until October 2018.
John Challis, secretary of the masonic lodge, said, “We are all shocked and stunned by the news. He was a very lovely man. He was constantly flying around all over the place.
“He had his 65th birthday at the air field, he had a hog roast for all his friends and people were flying in and out. He was very well known.
“He was still very much working, Cristal Air was his company.”
Mr Challis said, “We were due to have a meeting on the Thursday, and had been in contact with him on the Monday. He said ‘no problem, I’ll be there’.
“The first we heard about it was on the national news. It was entirely unexpected. I have received so many nice emails from people about him.”
Mr Hockings lived in West End, Herstmonceux.
A spokesperson for the Foreign Office said in a statement, “We are seeking further information from the Spanish authorities following a plane crash in Spain, and will do all we can to assist any British people who need our help.”
According to the Aviation Safety Network, the aircraft – which had been due to stop at Hondarribia, Spain – crashed into the mountain at 1.50pm; at the time of the crash there were reported foggy weather conditions.
Both bodies have been recovered, it said.
Next of kin have been informed, according to the authorities.