TWO men died when a light aircraft nosedived into a field and burst into flames near Chelmsford yesterday.

The YAK 52 aircraft crashed at just before 3pm in a field near the small village of Cooksmill Green on the A414, very close to Writtle.

Firefighters and emergency services raced to the scene but were unable to save the pilot or his passenger.

The plane had earlier taken off from the nearby North Weald airfield.

Both victims are from Essex and their next of kin have been informed of their deaths.

Two men, a pilot and his passenger both from Essex, were on board

Police closed off a section of the A414 between Chelmsford and Ongar while emergency services."

Sam Gildersleeve, from Ongar, was with friends when they  saw the plane flying low.

He said: "At this point we all looked at the sky and the plane attempted to do a somersault unsuccessfully, we heard a popping sound and noticed the plane did not re-emerge.

"We then noticed smoke coming from the site in the field where the plane had crashed. Shortly after the emergency services appeared."

The Air Accident Investigation Branch has sent a team to investigate.