TIGER Moth pilot Scott Hoyle has been found not guilty of recklessly causing a fatal crash.

Mr Hoyle, 48, was behind the vintage biplane's controls when it crashed at Manswood, near Witchampton, on May 15, 2011, killing his 26-year-old passenger Orlando Rogers.

During the trial at Winchester Crown Court, Mr Hoyle, a former Royal Marine, was accused of attempting to perform a loop-the-loop in the aircraft when it was overburdened and flying too slowly.

Furthermore the prosecution claimed Mr Rogers, who weighed 18 stone, was 6ft and 2ins tall and was clad in a bulky flight jacket and safety harness, was blocking the full movement of the control stick.

The court heard Mr Hoyle was inexperienced at performing aerobatic manoeuvres, but had carried several out with a different passenger earlier on the day of crash, at several thousand feet below the recommended safe altitude of 5,000 feet.

However Mr Hoyle, from Charborough Road, Broadstone, said he did not attempt to carry out a loop with Mr Rogers, also a former marine, as a passenger.

He said an apparent mechanical malfunction had led the crash as he lost control of the aircraft's elevator pedals.

His description of the circumstances of the crash was described in court by flight analysis aeronautical engineer John Jeffery as "the only scenario we believe fits the data recovered by GPS".

Mr Jeffery said tests carried out using crash investigation software showed the aircraft would have been able to safely perform a loop even with the handicaps alleged by the prosecution, and that, should it have stalled and fallen out of the loop at any point, it would have resumed a normal flight plan with minimal pilot input required.

Mr Hoyle was the co-owner of the Second World War aircraft, based at Compton Abbas airfield, and had been given basic training in its handling. He had 35 hours flying time on the Tiger Moth.

He was also seriously injured in the crash.

Mr Hoyle was acquitted yesterday on one count of manslaughter and also a further count of endangering the safety of an aircraft.

Mr Rogers, from Poole and originally from Devon, had been the youngest marine officer for a five years, passing out at age 19, and trained in the Arctic as a cold weather warfare specialist.

During his six years as an officer he was posted on tours throughout the world, including Afghanistan and Northern Ireland.

In 2007, he undertook a 30 day rowing trip across the Atlantic for charity.

On leaving the marines he set up maritime security firm Solace Global Maritime.