A RETIRED Kirkby Stephen dentist has tragically died in a light aircraft crash today.

Plane wreckage of David Watt's aircraft lay in his field at Ladthwaite Farm, with debris strewn across the grass this morning.

It is understood his plane got into difficulty while landing on an air strip at the farm at around 8pm last night.

Mr Watt, who has a son Andrew and daughter Alison, was also a member of the Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team.

The leader of Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team has spoken on behalf of Mr Watt’s family to pay tribute to a ‘community man’ who was a loved and dedicated member of the local search team.

Arthur Littlefair, the Team Leader of Kirkby Stephen MRT, has paid tribute to 64 year old David Watt who tragically died in a light plane crash in Ladthwaite last night.

Mr Littlefair said on behalf of Mr Watt’s family: “David was a greatly valued member of Kirkby Stephen Mountain Rescue Team having served as a volunteer for over 30 years.

He brought dedication, commitment and enthusiasm to his role and his death has come as a great shock to his family, colleagues and friends.

“David was a skilled search dog handler with Lakes Search and Rescue Dog Association with the experience that comes from years of training and many call outs.

He was passionate about flying and he was piloting an aircraft that he had built himself from kit form when he died.

This was the second aircraft he had built, and he was in the process of building a third. He was also a member of Skywatch – a group of amateur pilots who use their aircraft to offer air search facilities if emergency services require them.

“David was well respected within his community after serving as a local dentist for many years until his recent retirement.

He was a man of real character and people liked him for his engaging personality. He often adopted an individual approach to tasks in hand and will be well remembered for being generous with his time amongst the community.

“He retained a professional interest in forensic dentistry and used his skills for the benefit of others in third world countries such as Africa and Nepal.

He also sang with choirs in the town and was a member of Probus club, a group of retired professional and business people.

“David leaves behind his wife, Annette, his daughter Alison, and his son Andrew who is also a commercial pilot. Everybody knew David, and our, and the community’s thoughts, are with his family during this awful time.

Tributes from are coming in quickly from Mountain Rescue Team members from all over the Lake District and beyond which we hope will provide some comfort to his family. “He was greatly loved and will be sorely missed by his family and the local community.”

Maria Bell, barmaid at The Black Bull pub, said Mr Watt used to be her dentist.

She said: "He was very friendly and nice. He was always very professional.

"I'm just completely shocked that this has happened."