AN ex-RAF pilot with over 17,000 hours of flying experience was one of two men who died after their light aircraft crashed in a field near Marlborough on Thursday evening.

The 57-year-old man from Guernsey died when the light aircraft crashed into fields in Brimslade at 6.30pm.

Tributes for pilot Paul Gunnell have been led by his wife Kirsty Boazman, who described him as an “outrageously talented” man.

She said: “This cruel and unexpected departure has ripped a hole in my heart and existence.

“Paul was an exceptional man, my best friend, a natural-born leader and aviator who spent his entire career flying, amassing more than 17,000 hours privately and commercially.

“He died while doing what he loved most but it was not time to leave this life. We had much planned. I dearly love and so terribly miss my ‘Captain’.

Mr Gunnell was known by his friends as PG, including Rick Offord, who added: “‘Legend’ is used too often in aviation but if anyone deserves that status, it is PG.”

Mr Gunnell joined the RAF in 1982 where he became a Harrier Weapons Instructor. He left the forces to fly commercial Airbus and B777 aircrafts for 23 years. Alongside his flying career he also gained a law degree.

Mrs Boazman added: “The circumstances of Thursday’s crash will be under investigation for some time but whatever occurred happened quickly.

"Paul was not alone and our thoughts are equally with the other family who have also lost a loved one, who shared Paul’s sheer joy of being in the air.”

Wiltshire Police confirmed that a second man died in the crash and confirmed that the investigation into the incident was continuing.

He has been named on social media as Gordon Davis. It is believed Mr Davis was also a pilot and had over 18 years of flying experience.

Emergency services were believed to be at the scene within 10 minutes of the crash taking place on Thursday evening.

The coroner has not yet opened an inquest into the deaths of the men.