IT HAS been more than four years since their son died in a Navy helicopter crash.
But the parents of Lieutenant David Cole are no closer to discovering what led to his death.
Now Michael and Patricia Cole, of Upperthong, are demanding the Ministry of Defence (MOD) fits all its helicopters with crash-proof recording equipment.
Flight commander Lt Cole, 34, died when his Lynx helicopter crashed off the Cornish coast on the night of December 8, 2004.
Also killed were Lt Jamie Mitchell, 29, of Dundee, Lt Rob Dunn, 29, of Dorset, and LAEM Richard Darnell, 31, of Torquay.
The helicopter had been answering a man overboard call from a Navy vessel.
After a full investigation and inquest, which finished earlier this month, it was found the Lynx, called “Osprey”, had plummeted 100 feet vertically into the sea.
But because Osprey had no voice recorder or flight data recorder the cause of the crash could not be established and a jury at Eastern Somerset Coroner’s Court was forced to return a narrative verdict.
The MOD conducted several simulation flights to try to work out what happened but to no avail.
Royal Navy Lynx helicopters have been fitted with recorders since October 2005 but they are not crash proof.
Crash proof recorders are expected to be fitted to the Navy’s 145 Lynxes by March 2011.
Lt Cole went to Shelley High School and graduated from Hull University in 1995 before enrolling in the Royal Navy in 1996.
In July 1996 he was commissioned and joined the Fleet Air Arm where he received a Queen’s award as best student.
Lt Cole, who married wife Anna just months before his death, joined HMS Gannet at Prestwick, Scotland, and carried out numerous life-saving Sea King helicopter missions ferrying critical patients from remote locations to hospital.
He was serving aboard HMS Portland when he died.
David stepped in on the night of the accident because the ship’s medic had insufficient night flying hours.
An Osprey award – in honour of David and his crew – is given annually to naval flight crews for exceptional bravery and skill.
His parents have contacted shadow defence secretary Liam Fox to raise the issue in parliament.
Father Michael, 67, said: “One thing we will be pressing for is that the MOD doesn’t forget or get sidetracked or there’s another delay or they say there’s not enough money.
“We are never going to know what happened to David just for the lack of a simple tape recorder.”
Mother Patricia, 70, said: “It wouldn’t have saved David, but at least you would have some warning. Here there was just silence.
“We’re campaigning so future parents don’t have to sit through two weeks of an inquest. It was a harrowing experience.
“We’re not going to know what happened and going to the inquest was like being dragged back four years.
“This is people’s lives we’re talking about. This could happen to another generation of crews.”
An MOD spokesman said: “Our thoughts are with Lt Cole, Lt Dunn, Lt Mitchell, and LAEM Darnell’s families and friends at this very difficult time.
“Although cockpit voice recorders were not fitted at the time of the accident, a programme has been initiated to equip legacy aircraft with cockpit voice recorders (CVRs) and flight data recorders (FDRs).
“The fitting of this CVR solution to the Lynx Fleet commenced in October 2005 and was completed in April 2008.
“The CVR fitted was to provide an off the shelf interim solution to aid airworthiness until a more comprehensive crashworthy CV/FDR capability could be delivered.
“The first Lynx to be fitted with the crash survivable CVR is anticipated to be Autumn 2009 with the complete Lynx fleet complete by March 31, 2011.”