TRIBUTES have been paid to the director of an Alcester firm involved in a plane crash over the English Channel.

Lee Rogers, director of Simplify IT Solutions based on Springfield Business Park, is feared to have died after his plane crashed into the English Channel in “freak weather conditions”.

Lee and his friend Brian Statham had taken off from Wellesbourne Mountford Airfield near Stratford-upon-Avon on the morning of April 2.

They were heading to Le Touquet, a seaside town in northern France when their Piper PA-28R lost radar contact before crashing into the English Channel.

An investigation is currently being carried out by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) into the cause of the crash which is believed to have happened during a snowstorm.

Both Lee and Brian’s families have paid tribute to their loved ones as they made appeals to help locate their bodies.

Redditch Advertiser: The men were flying Piper PA-28R. The men were flying Piper PA-28R.

A joint response was launched by the French Coastguard and HM Coastguard to search an area off the Kent and Sussex coast but so far they have not been found.

Lee's family said the trip was a group fly out with South Warwickshire Flying School which included several other aircraft.

The search for the aircraft was called off on Sunday, April 3.

Lee’s family say they have no choice “but to assume Lee has passed on.”

The family said: "Anybody who knew Lee will testify to a larger-than-life character who lived life to the full, a man with a big heart and limitless generosity.

"A skilled and enthusiastic pilot, a lover of all manner of fast and loud machines, which also included a newfound love of yachting.

"He will leave behind a large wake and will be missed greatly - not only by his family but his legion of friends and colleagues.

Redditch Advertiser: Brian Statham. Brian Statham.

"Lee was and always will be a legendary figure in the IT world and the Warwickshire community, most of which will have a humorous tale or two to recount regarding him.

"Not only a successful entrepreneur, known for his principled and uncompromising code of ethics, Lee was also a kind-hearted supporter of various charities.”

Lee has been described as a “family man” and leaves behind his wife Sarah, whom he was married to for eight years, and daughter Ellie.

The family added: “It’s not fair that Ellie should be parted with her father so young, or that Sarah should be robbed of her husband way before his time or that Lee’s parents and sister lose a son and brother.

"Life isn’t fair, but few leave a legacy like Lee, even if they had a hundred lifetimes.”

Lee’s family have thanked the British and French Coastguard for their efforts and the public for their tributes.

On Thursday, April 7 Brian’s flight bag from the plane was found and handed in by a tourist on the beach in Le Touquet.

Brian’s family said: "If you live on the northern coast of France or the southern coast of England and like to spend time at the beach, or near the English Channel please be vigilant for any form of aircraft debris, clothes and personal items.

"If you see anything, please pick it up and hand it into the local authorities."