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SAS soldier dies in plane plunge

LONDON, England -- An inquest was due to be opened on Thursday into the death of a former SAS soldier who plunged thousands of feet to his death from a light aircraft.

Charles "Nish" Bruce, who served in the Falklands war and Northern Ireland, died after apparently jumping out of the Cessna 172 plane without a parachute over Oxford, England, on a trip back from Spain.

A separate police inquiry has begun in to the death of the expert skydiver.

Bruce, who had experience of flying planes and helicopters, appears to have leapt after the pilot reported ice on the wings and requested a change of flight path.

The 46-year-old had written an autobiography called "Freefall," which chronicled his deteriorating mental health.

His mother Penelope said in an interview with the The Times newspaper: "I have no idea why he leapt from the Cessna. He was not depressed as far as I know. It is all a complete mystery."

Bruce joined the crack British security force, the SAS, after a career in the Parachute Regiment. He left the forces in the 1980s to write his book in 1998 under the pseudonym Tom Read.

He was reported to have been the first British special forces soldier to have parachuted into the Falklands in 1982 and was awarded the Queen's Gallantry Medal.

His civilian jobs included working as a security guard for celebrities including British comedian and television presenter Jim Davidson.

His book told how he wanted to claim a unique world record by skydiving from the edge of space, being the first man to break the speed of sound without the aid of an aircraft or rocket.

But the idea came to nothing as Bruce's mental state deteriorated.

At one point he described looking over at his girlfriend as they set together in a plane and contemplating murdering her.

The 30-year-old woman pilot of the plane was said to be distraught and devastated after the accident.

The plane had taken off from Spain on Tuesday and after stopping to refuel in La Rochelle, France, was bound for a private air-field at Hinton-in-the-Hedges, Northamptonshire.




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