A CLOSE friend of a man tragically killed in a plane crash told how he was simply “irreplaceable” as he was laid to rest this week.

Father-of-one Simon Chamberlain died after the YAK 52 light aircraft went down in a field in Cooksmill Green, near Writtle, on Saturday March 29.

Both he and pilot Andrew Sully, 50, were killed.

Mr Chamberlain’s funeral took place yesterday (Wed April 30).

The 29-year-old, from Harlow, was buried in the Woodland Burial Park, North Weald, just a stone’s throw away from the village’s airfield.

Since 2009 Mr Chamberlain was secretary for the North Weald Airfield Museum and as a mark of respect the venue will remain closed to the public until Saturday (May3).

Museum chairman Peter Gardner said: “We were due to open on April 5, but after what happened we felt the right thing to do in respect of Simon was to wait until after the funeral to reopen.

“I knew Simon for about 12 years and he was such a cracking lad. He is irreplaceable.

“Aviation was his passion alongside his family and he spent as much time down here as he could.

“If something needed doing he would be first to help, even if he had his best suit on and an airplane needed pushing out of a hangar.”

Mr Gardner, 74, who is godfather to Mr Chamberlain’s two-year-old son Charlie, also confirmed plans to set up a tea room at the museum named after his friend will go ahead.

He said: “I have spoken to Simon’s wife Lizzie, who has been extremely brave through all of this.

“We are 100 per cent going forward with the tea room idea in Simon’s name.

“Simon loved this museum, he thought it was so great that he once said to me that it would close over his dead body, so now I am determined to keep it going for him.”