Tributes have been paid to two people who died as a light aircraft crashed on the Queen’s Sandringham Estate.

Pilot Nigel Dodds, 58, who lived in Menorca, and friend Val Barnes, from Gateshead, were killed when the planeĀ came down near Wolferton on Monday.

A friend said Mr Dodds was the “kindest man” he had ever met, while Ms Barnes’ theatre group said she was “loved by everyone”.

It is understood the pair were flying from Menorca to Newcastle.

The victims both died at the scene.

The Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) is investigating.

A friend of Mr Dodds’, who is believed to be originally from Gateshead, said he had previously run a catering equipment business with his brother.

He had also run a business called Alpha Yankee Ltd, offering flights in the 1979-built Piper plane.

British ex-pat and bar owner John Scott said Mr Dodds, who had lived in Cala En Porter in Menorca, “embraced life” and regularly returned to Newcastle area.

“He was the kindest man I have ever met and he did not have a bad word to say about anyone.

“He was a very popular member of our community here in Menorca and the whole village is devastated.”

Kelvin Grove Primary School in Gateshead, where Ms Barnes had worked and been a governor, described her as having a “vibrant personality, with a real energy and passion for life”.

Head teacher Andy Jones said: “Val had played a central role in school administration and contributed to the wider life of the school: running after-school gymnastic clubs and accompanying pupils on residential visits.”

Ms Barnes had also been a member of South Moor Musical Theatre Group for 56 years and its long-serving secretary.

Gordon Richardson, a spokesman for its parent group the National Operatic and Dramatic Association, said: “Val was loved by everyone and devoted to everything she did.”

Mr Dodds’ plane had been based at the private jet facility Samson Aviation at Newcastle Airport for “many” years.

In a statement, it said it was “extremely saddened to hear of the accident”.

“Our thoughts are with the friends and family members of those involved,” it added.

The village of Wolferton lies within the Sandringham Estate and is about seven miles (11km) north of King’s Lynn, near the north Norfolk coast.

The wreckage of the blue and white plane was removed from just behind the sea wall on Tuesday evening and will be taken to the AAIB’s centre at Farnborough for further examination.