I was at the Yeovilton display when the Harrier pilot was killed. I was at the end of the crowd nearest the accident. When the ejector fired I looked around to see the pilot thrown up into the air behind what I think was a refuelling area. The crowd hardly reacted at all and apart from ambulances arriving at the scene there was no indication that anything had happened. No announcements were made and the display carried on.
My reason for posting this is that today a Red Arrows pilot was killed at RAF Scampton when his ejector seat fired whilst the aircraft was on the ground. My thoughts are with both pilots' families because it will undoubtedly have stirred memories.
On the subject of display incidents, there are several tragic aerobatic team-related accidents which seem to have poorly been documented. Can anyone recall the names of the otherteam members involved?
No.1 Squadron: In April 1950, tragedy struck when the squadron's four-ship entry for the 11 Group aerobatic team competition was withdrawn after its leader, Flt Lt Pete Speller, was killed whilst rehearsing for the final elimination contest at Tangmere; rammed from behind by his Number 4 during a formation loop, the tail of Spellerís Meteor was sliced off and the wreckage fell to the ground in front of a crowd of horrified spectators. One of the other team members was Pilot III D C Harpham.
No.56 Squadron:The month of March 1950 was entirely devoted to various forms of aerobatic flying in preparation for the 11 Group formation aerobatic competition at RAF Thorney Island in May. On 29 March the squadron's four-ship display team suffered a tragic mishap when Flt Lt Constable-Maxwell was killed when his Meteor (VW277) got into difficulties during a formation sortie and crashed on the mud flats off Thorney Island. With little time to train a replacement to the required standard, the team reluctantly withdrew from the competition.
No.63 Squadron: By December 1950, the squadron began to re-equip with Meteor F.8s and its team of four Meteors continued to give occasional displays until the following September, when two aircraft (WB106 and WE869) were involved in a tragic mid-air collision during the Battle of Britain celebrations at Waterbeach; one of the pilots, Fg Off Robin Pavey was unfortunately killed, whilst Fg Off L J B Smith managed to eject after losing the tail of his Meteor. The accident brought an end to any further formation display flying on the squadron.
No.5 FTS: On 15 October 1959, tragedy struck when two Vampire T.11s of the 'Hot Box' team collided during a display for a passing-out parade at Oakington. One of the Vampires (WZ495) crashed at Elmsworth, Cambs, killing Flt Sgt H W Gibson AFM, while the other aircraft (XE897) flown by Flt Sgt R G Gregory was able to return to base and subsequently struck off charge.
No.8 FTS: By 1961 the schoolís team was flying Vampire trainers and on 24 March 1961 it suffered a tragic accident when two of its aircraft collided during a formation loop at the graduation parade of No.139 Pilot Course at RAF Swinderby. One of the pilots, Flt Lt M T Chapman was unfortunately killed when his Vampire (XE944) crashed in a field near Swinderby, while Sqn Ldr L A Boyer was able to safely eject before his aircraft (WZ513) came down near Binbrook, south of Grimsby. Despite the temporary set-back, an improvised display team appeared at that yearís Battle of Britain shows at Aldergrove and Finningley later in the year.
Last edited by Vampiredave; 9th Nov 2011 at 15:52.
Empire Air Day at Aldergrove either 1948 or 49. A Tiger Moth doing an aerobatic display only managed 90% of a loop. Engine crushed the front cockpit but it was being flown solo so the pilot shaken but not stirred. Whole lot put on a trailer and paraded in front of the crowd so that they could see what a crashed aeroplane looked like.
A U. S. air-show accident--fatality--but I assume that counts.
I was at the Reading Air Show (Reading, Pennsylvania) in the early summer of 1969 as an editor of Flying Magazine. I thus was outside the crowd barrier, with a photographer's pass. Reading was THE big general aviation show in the U. S. at the time, well before the EAA was anything but a small enthusiast organization.
Not 100 feet in front of me, a Piper J-3 Cub suddenly went in vertically--first aircraft accident I'd ever seen. The pilot was a famous air-show performer, Dick Schramm, who did a classic "crazy flying farmer" act in which he wandered out of the crowd, dressed in bib overalls and a straw hat, and ostensibly sneaked into the cockpit of an idling, parked Cub.
Schramm took off first on one wheel and then the other, cross-controlled every which way, while those people in the crowd who didn't realize it was an act were horrified. After several goofy 50-foot-agl fly-bys, he waved the joystick out the open window as though to say, "What do I do with this?" and as I remember, he dropped it. General consternation.
It was of course a spare stick, and he put into the stick socket in the back seat a second stick he'd hidden away.
Unfortunately, this time he apparently didn't seat the stick properly, and his next maneuver was a very low-altitude loop. On the backside of the loop, coming straight down, the stick popped out of the socket, with the inevitable result. He was of course killed instantly--there wasn't even a fire, just a sound like a watermelon being dropped out of a five-story window--and the sad thing was that the running commentary was being delivered by his son, Dick Schramm Jr., who as I remember was with the Blue Angels as a PA commenter. Schramm Jr. continued with his narration calmly, despite knowing that his father had just died, and warned the crowd to stay back, let emergency personnel handle it, etc. etc.
I was interested in your post re No 1 Squadron and the airshow crash of April 19 1950. Flt Lt Pete Speller was my father and I have been trying to collect up info about him as I never knew him. I was only 1 when he was killed.
Can you let me know were you got your information on the crash from.
I recall being at an air display at RNAS Culdrose sometime in the 1980s when an Army Beaver took off for its display. Culdrose has a hump in the runway, so it is not possible to see the (Northern?) end of the runway.
During the day, there was no indication of any problems and we left at the end of the display.
It was only when we got back to our hotel, that the first thing on the local TV news, was that the Beaver had crashed on takeoff and the pilot had been killed.
Past 15 years: Spitfire at Woodford in front of crowd line, Vintage pair at Mildenhall, Two MiG 29s at Fairford, and Mosquito at Barton, not forgetting Don Bullock in the A26 at Biggin Hill or Squadron Leader Johnson ejecting after hitting a yacht mast at Brighton.
Many deaths but some survivors.
ps \forgot the Harrier off Lowestoft or Frecce at Ramstein
Hi I was at Culdrose and saw the Beaver crash ,from memory, which is not that good, he was actualy doing some very slow flying into a very strong wind and turned quickly downwind in a tight turn and just fell out of the sky at least I think thats how I remember it
Yeovilton Navy Day Sep 1975 was marred by an unfortunate incident when the pilot of the Harrier was killed when the ejection seat fired while he was climbing out of the aircraft. Canít find any substantiation of this accident!
If it was indeed the 1975 show, it was on 6th September, however enthusiast reports from the event make no mention of such an incident. However, the only two Harriers listed at Yeovilton that weekend were XV804 coded '45' and XW922 coded '49', both from 233 OCU.
Post 1 said, 199?: Also at Farnborough In the mid-1990ís, an Su-27 ran off the end of the runway following an instruction to land by the Flying Control Committee because the practice display was apparently all over the place with several contraventions of the display arena. The aircraft touched down fast with more than two-thirds of the runway behind the aircraft! On questioning the pilot about the deep touch-down, he answered: ďbut you said land immediately Ė so thatís what I did!Ē
The date was 1994, I was there with the ground crew for the display along with some RAE staff. The SU 27 validation started badly, he took off the wrong way, did his display backwards, was told to land which, as you say, he did. The touch down was over half way down runway 24 & he went off the end. It took us till about 1230AM to get it back on to the paved area!! The pilot was hauled up in front of the powers that be & severly reprimanded also banned from flying in the display. The Russians pointed out that he was their only display pilot they had for the aircraft so they would not be displaying it. His suspension was withdrawn & he flew nearly every day!.
There was still an arrestor barrier across the end of the runway in those days. The tower controller was unaware if the SU27 was 'approved' to engage it so although SOP was to have it raised for takeoff and landing of all fast jets, he lowered it. I still wonder to this day if this was the correct action, although by doing so, the aircraft was able to fly later; if it had engaged the barrier, there might have been some airframe damage to prevent it flying. As an aside, Honey Monster who recently posted in the ATC thread, had a wicked sense of humour. He was in the tower and several people were walking across the runway for morning briefing. He saw John Cunningham approaching the 'bottleneck' (narrow bit at the end of the runway) and raised the arrestor barrier. Cunningham stopped, looked at it, decided it was no hazard, carefully parted the vertical webbing strips, stepped through them, and continued to the briefing tent! The first airshow accident I witnessed after I was posted to Farnborough was in 1974 with the Sikorsky S67 Blackhawk prototype (Not to be confused with the present day H60 Blackhawk - an entirely different airframe). It was part way through its display, flying north east along the display line and at the end, pulled up to commence a barrel roll. Now this, I'm told, had not been included in his rehearsed and approved display, but had been added with the verbal approval of OC Flying. Unfortunately, it rolled out with a high rate of descent. I was in an 'office' with a good view of the flying on the third floor of the tower preparing the next day's flying programme along with a couple of colleagues. It was obvious from the blade slap that something was wrong, and I said 'he's going in' simultaneously with one of the others who said the exact same words. The helicopter hit the ground heading roughly north near the parked line of 'rescue' helicopters having checked most of its rate of descent and I expected it to just grind to a halt, instead of which it erupted in a ball of flame. Tragically both occupants lost their lives as a result of this.
Geezers of Nazareth/G-KEST - read post 22? It happened as the Reds ran in to commence. I believe the pilot did not replace his seat pin after the display, and he stepped on the handle as he climbed out, firing the seat.
Flt Lt Peter Spellar 28 was a member of 1 Sqn and and was flying Meteor F4 serial VT146 at RAF Tangmere.
His aircraft collided with Meteor VT243 being flown by Pilot III D C Harpham and lost its tail unit. The other aircraft returned safely to base.
A Pilot III was a strange beast and was part of a rank system introduced post war for non-commissioned aircrew personnel. This comprised the grades: Cadet, IV, III, II, I and Master with the prefix (except for Master where it was a suffix) relating to the aircrew trade eg Navigator IV, Gunner II etc. Badges of rank comprised a wreath with a number of stars and were worn on the upper sleeves. The idea was very unpopular and it was dropped in the 1951 Trade Structure, leaving just Master Aircrew as the equivalent of a warrant officer, with their distinctive badge.
As to further information about your father, you could try the 1 Sqn Association, The Tangmere Association as well as getting a copy of the Form 1180 Accident card from the RAF Museum's Dept of Research and Information Services (DORIS). You could also obtain your father's Record of Service, which will give you a good idea about what he did etc throughout his service. I shall be at DORIS this coming Thursday, if you want me to copy the Form 1180.
By the way, the 'gear up' landing by the Saab 105 at Farnborough mentioned by Dixi88 was '72 not '74; I remember as this was the only Farnborough I didn't go to between '62 and 2006, the last 17 of these I had to attend as I worked there! At the 1970 show, I witnessed Pee Wee Judge losing his life in the Wallis gyrocopter, and the next one I went to was the '74 one I mentioned earlier. Honey Monster - who arrived at Farnborough several years before me - told me the Saab 105's pilot realised he hadn't lowered the gear just before he touched down and selected it down, but it didn't have time to cycle before the ominous scraping noise began. When they lifted the aircraft with a crane, the gear dropped down by gravity and locked! Honey Monster was at Farnborough when the Breguet Atlantique crashed on the RAE canteen in 1968 after an asymmetric flypast, resulting in severe limitations on asymmetric displays (ie they were banned).
Two from downunder. Late '50's RAAF aerobatic team the Red Sales - based at CFS East Sale - practicing for show season completed a box four loop and flew into the ground - No 4 in the box almost made it. Late '50's again formation of FAA Sea Venoms performing over Sydney Harbour for Navy week. Four hit three during, I think, a vertical manouvre - three flew back to Nowra with damaged fin and rudder - four ejected over harbour, and according to the media, after steering the aircraft clear of suburbia. I met the pilot years later and he said "Bullsh1te it wasn't flying and I was leaving!". GAGS E86
The 1948 Mosquito crash in Kent occurred at the Battle of Britain display at RAF Manston, on 18th September 1948. The aircraft was performing low level aerobatics when the pilot lost control and it struck the ground at the edge of the airfield, hitting traffic arriving for the show. Ten members of the public were killed, plus the pilot and navigator.
Internet extract without any substantiation! True or False? B(I)8 & Gainsey Ref the 543 Victor, 543 were being presented with their Colours, by, I believe, Princess Anne. Anyway they had a parade on the lazy, where also were lined up their Victors. The culmination of this was to be a rapid start and scramble of one of the said a/c. followed by a flypast. Sod's law came into play and the prime went **** up, the crew, minus I think the Nav Rad, who was to get some pics for the Captain, ran to the standby, started and taxied . He did a wonderful take off (min fuel) airborne well before the intersection and pulled into a tight r.h climbing turn, intending to line up on 27 for a max rate climb, but he was unable to pull onto the centreline due to speed & not letting out far enough so he called going around for another try. He came over us going like the proverbial bat out of hell, and in at least 50 to 60 deg bank, got to the far side of the airfield and the tailplane departed, the rest is history, apart from the fact that I got hauled in to do the first night's guard at the crash site. Incidently, The Daily Mirror was the only paper to get a photo of the take off and initial climbing turn, and it headlined it's next day's edition "Death of a Giant" with said pic on the front page".
Not sure if its the same incident, but i know a Victor came down near Wyton back in 75 i think, after disintegrating during a high speed run for some special occasion. And if i remember correctly Anglia Television were there filming too!