FOUR people died when their light aircraft crashed and burst into flames near the city of Trier in Germany at lunchtime on Sunday.
It is believed the flight from Shoreham airport struck an electricity pylon in foggy conditions, before crashing at a landfill site, but the cause of the crash has not yet been confirmed.
All four people on board, two pilots and two passengers, were German nationals.
The flight arrived in Shoreham on Friday and set off on the return journey to an airfield at Foehren in Western Germany two days later at 9.54am.
Tragically the American-registered Cessna Citation 501 never arrived at its destination.
Any subsequent investigation will be done by the German authorities, and Shoreham Airport bosses sent their condolences to the families and friends of those affected.
Amateur photographer Nigel Paine from Hastings photographed the jet as it took off from Shoreham on Sunday.
“At the time it was just another aircraft takeoff which I photographed to check the exposure settings on my camera,” said Mr Paine.
“I had quite a strange feeling about four hours later when I heard what had happened.
“I realised I was probably the last person to see the people on board.
“It was a shock because I was watching it on the flight radar on my iPad when it disappeared off the screen.
“I didn’t know what had happened at the time.”
The aircraft damaged an electricity pylon as it came down and was ablaze when firefighters arrived at the scene.
Reports said it was foggy and visibility was as low at the time of the crash.
Mr Paine said the flight’s scheduled departure time was at 10.15am but the plane actually took off twenty minutes early at 9.54am.
Police in Trier said all four people aboard were killed — a 61-year-old businessman from the region and his 60-year-old wife, along with the pilot and co-pilot, who were not immediately identified.
A spokesman for Shoreham Airport said staff would assist with any future investigations, which were likely to be carried out by the German authorities.
None of the people on board the aeroplane were known to staff at Shoreham.