THE family of a teenager killed alongside his father in a helicopter crash have paid tribute to the close-knit pair.

James Tartaglia, aged 15, of South Littleton, near Evesham, was on board the ill-fated Jetranger 206B when it came down in the Blackdown Hills, Somerset, last weekend. All four passengers, including the teenager's father Allan, who lived in Gloucestershire, died.

The group had set off for a trip to Torbay last Saturday morning from Gloucester's Staverton airport. The alarm was raised at 5pm when they failed to return and a search operation was launched. Rescue efforts were resumed at first light on Sunday and the wreckage was discovered at around 9am.

James, who attended Cleeve School, lived with his mother Gill, sister Laura and stepfather Michael and Michael's two children. But the teenager remained close to his father, stepmother Debbie and the couple's three-year-old twin sons.

"Laura and James would visit us at the weekends. James and his dad did everything together," said stepmother, Debbie.

"James was a very polite boy and was always so helpful. He loved being with his dad and the twins."

James had inherited his father's passion for motorbikes, and the pair were planning to renovate a small bike for the teenager when he reached his 16th birthday.


Debbie added: "James was so much like his dad, they shared similar hobbies and he was just as laid back and as much of a joker as Allan."

The Air Accident Investigation Board is now conducting a full enquiry into the crash. Various reports and sightings suggest the helicopter encountered difficulties en route and tried to turn back.

Avon and Somerset police are assisting with the investigation, but are satisfied there are no suspicious circumstances. The force had also launched its own internal enquiry, amid suggestions they failed to act for five hours after the crash.

Cleeve School deputy head Andy Hemmings said: "James was a much-liked member of the school, and his tragic death has shocked and saddened the many people who knew him.

"He was an outgoing and popular student who will be greatly missed."