1st Jun 2012, 20:01
I first saw the following post on Key Forums and as yet it has had no replies so with the posters permission , Kate Showell who lives in Australia , I re-posted it on the Air Britain forum were I've had several replies , one identifying the aircraft involved as Piper PA-18A ST-ABV . I just wondered , hoped , that someone on PPRuNe may be able to help more ? Thank you .
"My mother wishes to visit the grave of her first fiancée who was killed in a small plane accident on 2 November 1962 when the plane he was piloting crashed into the Sennar dam in Sudan. He was working for Crop Culture Aerial which was an English firm based on the Isle of Wight.
His name was Martin Edward Coates - sometimes spelt Coats. He was a New Zealand citizen, born 13/3/1931 who was living in Sydney when my mother became engaged to him. His family chose not to have him brought back to New Zealand and he was buried by the company in Khartoum.
I'm trying to find out which cemetery he is buried in. It will the 50th anniversary of his death this year and my mother wishes to visit the grave on that date. She was unable to attend the funeral and the company arranged for flowers to be put on the grave for her.
Unfortunately Britten-Norman have advised they have no records of Crop Culture Aerial as they only have records going back to 2000 when they took over the company. The UK embassy in Khartoum only has information on Commonweath war graves though are seeing if any families they know may know which cemetery he was buried in. I am also seeking advice from the embassy on other possibly avenues to find the cemetery and my mother and I will write to the Sudanese government.
Any information, advice or assistance would be much appreciated. We have booked our flights and will be in Khartoum on November 1st. While we plan to visit the site of the crash, visiting the gravesite is the most important thing."
2nd Jun 2012, 13:20
I have sent you a PM which you should find of interest.
2nd Jun 2012, 14:47
Googling produces five cemeteries in Khartoum and presumably you can discount the WWll and Jewish cemeteries. This would leave the Al Farouq/Farroq, Sahafa and Maghabat Khogali cemeteries. I would assume that the embassy would have a record. Hope you are successful in your quest and will keep us informed of your progress.
3rd Jun 2012, 09:06
Jim McMahon ran Crop Culture...this may lead onto to other contacts
Aussie Influence In Ag History [Archive] - PPRuNe Forums (http://www.pprune.org/archive/index.php/t-221985.html)
3rd Jun 2012, 09:53
I must dig out my copy of Peter Charles's book "Six Feet Over", to see if he might have known Martin Coates. ISTR Peter worked for Crop Cuture. I see Peter 2 or 3 time a year - he does not "do" internet - and I am happy to pass on messages, as I will be gliding from near him in September
4th Jun 2012, 11:19
PM's replied too and thanks to everyone for the replies so far which I have forwarded to Kate Showell in Australia .
6th Jun 2012, 22:50
Thanks to Kate Showell I now have a copy of a four page report into the accident which was compiled by a Mr Hewitt the Operations Manager for Crop Culture (Aerial) Ltd of Khartoum . The only other Crop Culture employees mentioned were an AT Toms the Technical Manager (Crop Culture) Sudan and a Mr Whitworth an entomologist .
If anyone would like a copy of the report please PM me with your details .
14th Jun 2012, 11:24
Private message enroute.
17th Jun 2012, 16:08
PM replied to Ocean Person , thank you .
I've attached below a reply Kate received from Arthur Ord-Hume which may be of interest in regard to Martin Coates , Britten-Norman and Mr Ord-Hume himself . Does anyone know if Les Hewitt is still alive ?
Thanks for reading
Dear Kate Showell:
I have received your message regarding your quest for information regarding a pilot who lost his life with Crop Culture (Aerial) Ltd..I have also read your extended request on the ascribed 'link' you provided.
First I have to correct some anomalies and mistake regarding the company, its founding, and its staff. John Britten and Desmond Norman formed a partnership at Ryde on the Isle of Wight to build and develop a small aircraft which they had designed (in the end it was a failure). This was in 1952. At the same time they contracted to build an aircraft for a Southern TV programme called ';This Week'. Meanwhile, an Australian friend, Jim McMahon asked them to design crop-spraying equipment for a Tiger Moth to convert it for agricultural use.
The upshot was the creation of two companies - Britten-Norman Ltd (directors John Britten and Desmond Norman with myself as aerodynamicist and designer/test pilot) and Crop Culture (Aerial) Ltd with John Britten, Desmond Norman and Jim McMahon as directors. The 'works' was the Conservative Party Committee Rooms in Star Street, Ryde. In 1953-4 the businesses moved to Bembridge Airport that being vacant following the closure of the former Aero Club.
Britten-Norman and Crop Culture thus operated side-by-side from the beginning. Both expanded quickly and I became chief designer/test pilot under John Britten. Crop Culture's operations were mostly in the Sudan but all the equipment was made and tested at Bembridge and aircraft test-flown and then ferried out. In Khartoum Les Hewitt was Operations Manager for the Middle East operations.
All records of B-N and Crop Culture (Aerial) thus go back to the earliest days and the words that B-N have no records of CC(A) before 2000 'when they took over the company' is rubbish. B-N itself had several owners including Fairey and Pilatus and I can only assume that the records were lost at that time. Jim McMahon lived in the Fort on Bembridge Down overlooking Sandown Bay and the airfield: he died a few years back.
CC(A) had a number of aircraft and employed a number of pilots. Initially the aircraft were all Tiger Moths, then Piper PA-18s but there were also several Edgar Percival EP.9 machines. By that time, I had left B-N (having designed the wing of the Islander) and gone to join Percival at Stapleford to develop the EP.9.
Now to Martin Coates. No, I did not know him, but I had heard of his name. The date of the accident you quote, November 2nd, 1962, is interesting because CC(A) lost two aircraft in fatal accidents. The first was in the prototype EP.9, G-AOFU, and the second was in a locally-registered PA-18, ST-ABV. Both were fatal accidents and they were separated by two days. Which of these might have been the accident you name \I cannot confirm.
Unfortunately I believe all the people who might be able to assist you are dead now. Records of accidents in the Sudan are sketchy and records of accidents to crop-spraying aircraft are notoriously difficult to confirm or even check.
Might I suggest your best bet would be to try local sources out in the Sudan. My own log-books for that period merely confirm the existence of the aircraft in that region.
Crop Culture (Aerial) Ltd may not still be in existence: I have had no contact or news of them for some while and ceased business with them early 1960s when I became designer for another company before founding Phoenix Aircraft Ltd (managing director & chief designer).
I hope this information may clear some of the background for you but regret that it can shed no further light on your predicament. As I say, there are many people who can profess to offer a guess but few left with the truth.
Arthur W. J. G. Ord-Hume
(former technical director: Britten-Norman Ltd)
(sent from my desk)
20th Jun 2012, 09:41
Private message enroute.