View Full Version : Mike Lithgow BAC 1-11 crash site, 1963

11th Nov 2008, 22:37
quote from Wikipedia:

Lithgow was pilot of the prototype BAC One-Eleven (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BAC_One-Eleven) G-ASHG when on 22 October 1963 the aircraft entered a deep stall (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deep_stall) and crashed near Cricklade (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cricklade), Wiltshire (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wiltshire). Lithgow and six other crew died.

Can anyone provide an exact location? I know the area well, but no one i have spoken to knows of the crash....


11th Nov 2008, 23:13
Put the aircraft reg. in google search.
Location Cratt Hill,

12th Nov 2008, 02:36
One of the main reasons may be that the crash site was untouched. When I was an apprentice at Hurn, one of the lead hands on the line had been one of the team that did the recovery. He said the aircraft was found lying upright in a slight hollow and looking so intact that they thought the crew had got away with it - sadly not true of course.

Brian Abraham
12th Nov 2008, 04:01
The best I could find was a statement "2 kilometers NNW of Cricklade".
Could find no actual accident report but came up with the following.
1963 | 1903 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1963/1963%20-%201903.html)
1963 | 1904 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1963/1963%20-%201904.html)
1963 | 1939 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1963/1963%20-%201939.html)
1965 | 1977 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1965/1965%20-%201977.html)
1965 | 1978 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1965/1965%20-%201978.html)
You may also be interested in the belly landing of G-ASJD on Salisbury Plain during stall tests.
capt masland | flight international | sayen award | 1965 | 0946 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1965/1965%20-%200946.html)

Edited to add: yes, Cratt Hill.

12th Nov 2008, 07:18
Didn't it crash near Chicklade, rather than Cricklade?

Brian Abraham
12th Nov 2008, 22:35
Go to the top of the class Jimmy. :ok: You've solved the problem, no wonder 233SQN was having difficulty. A closer reading of the first link I provided above states exactly that. If you go to the following link you will find a map of Chicklade with Cratt Hill shown to the NNW.

Map of Chicklade | Maps | Waterscape.com (http://www.waterscape.com/in-your-area/wiltshire/chicklade/map)

Don't believe anything you read and only half of what you see.

16th Nov 2008, 18:17
I was flying a Beaver out of Netheravon at the time and was tasked to find the site. Not difficult, it looked like a perfectly serviceable 1-11 from the air

18th Nov 2008, 21:41
Wrecker & ICT_SLB are You sure You are not thinking of the forced landing of G-ASJD?

The following is an extract from G-ASHG's accident report:

"The aircraft crashed on Level ground about 700 feet a.m.s.l."

"Inertia loads at impact produced a failure of the rear fuselage which caused the fin and tailplane to swing down until the outer portions of the latter came into contact with the ground. Cabin windows and a door, with pieces of cabin furnishings, were thrown forward. The Starboard wing broke chordwise from the trailing edge at about mid-span and swung tip forward.
Fire broke out after impact and destroyed the fuselage and starboard wing. The upper portion of the fin, the tailplane and elevators, together with the outer portion of the port wing survived the fire."

A sad event.


19th Nov 2008, 06:55
m5dnd, my thoughts exactly as I read their posts, thanks for digging out the relevant info.

19th Nov 2008, 08:58
Yes, my thoughts exactly.
A 10,000ft/min descent rate ground impact isn't going to leave an aircraft looking as though it had just been placed there. It would be extensively 'pancaked' - as indeed it was.

19th Nov 2008, 10:09
Compared to G-ASJD which escaped virtually unscathed and went on to serve BUA and British Caledonian as well as the RAe and QinetiQ see:
QinetiQ marks retirement of it historic BAC 1-11 XX105 with flypast (http://qinetiq.com.au/home/newsroom/news_releases_homepage/2003/2nd_quarter/xx105.html)

19th Nov 2008, 19:47
G-ASJD, Survived and looking good, 1960's. Keith.


Chris Scott
20th Nov 2008, 00:09
Thanks for the Qinetiq link, philbky. So that's why she was not in BCAL (BUA's successor) in the 1970s, and explains why I couldn't find her in my log book. [JC and JE, etc., are there.]

But am surprised to read she was as late as 8th off the production line.

Of the other 200s delivered to launch-customer BUA, I think JJ was lost in an accident (at Milan?) in the late 1960s, resulting in us getting G-ASTJ. We gradually disposed of them in the early 1980s. The last couple went to Okada Air at Kano or Lagos. Shame: they were fine little ships. :sad: Thanks for the memory, norwich.

20th Nov 2008, 08:56

SJD flew for Caledonian/BUA from 30.11.70, when the airlines merged, until September 71 when BCAL became the new name. SJD was operated by the newly named airline for less than a month, until 21.09.71 when it was sold to the RAE.

SJD was the fifth flying airframe and the last numerically to be involved in the development programme. Line numbers 2, 3, 4 were either static test or part build test structures.

STJ was not a replacement for SJJ which was w/o at Milan on 14.01.69 due to cockpit confusion after a compressor stall on take off.

STJ first flew on 25.10 65 as c/n 085 and was delivered to BUA on 09.11.65.

This was a replacement for SJB, c/n 006 which was damaged beyond repair in a heavy landing at Wisley, during the development programme, on 18.03.64.

There was talk at the time that many parts of SJB were used in building STJ but I've never been able to confirm this.

The 1-11 was the pioneer western short haul jet transport and, as such, fell victim to unforseen problems which entailed a degree of re-design along the way which retarded sales and deliveries. At one stage in 1964 there was talk of the programme being yet another Comet saga - thankfully, due to the Comet's problems, the testing was thorough and the accidents happened and fixes were found before entry into service.

The first 1-11 to be deliverd to a customer was SJI on 22.01.65 which then spent 3 months on training and route proving with mixed BAC/BUA cockpit crews, finally being fully handed over on 15.04.65. The first service was performed by SJJ on 09.04.65 from Gatwick to Genoa, having been delivered on 06.04.65.

SJH followed on 14.04.65, SJF on 22.05.65, SJG on 06.07.65, SJE on 23.07.65, SJD on 05.08.65, SJA on 11.10.65 and SJC on 06.11.65.

Meanwhile Braniff took delivery of their first aircraft (the third to be built for them) N1543 on 11.03.65.

20th Nov 2008, 09:58

You say "The 1-11 was the pioneer western short haul jet transport...".

I hate to be a pedant but the guys around where I work have the view that the Caravelle has the rights to that particular claim.


20th Nov 2008, 10:33
I knew someone would mention the Caravelle but the context in which the two types were intended to operate were different. The Caravelle, (versions I - VIR) even with a shorter range than any of the the 1-11 200 series, was intended for main line use on sectors of upwards of an hour. It was intended to use major airports and, until the VIR variant didn't have reverse thrust.

The 1-11 200 series was designed for short hops and marketed as "The Bus Stop Jet" being fitted with thrust reversers from the start to allow it to use shorter runways and its economics were such that it could operate at a profit on sectors as short as 30 minutes with less than a 50% load factor and was designed from day one to operate independently of ground services at airports allowing very fast turnarounds - no Caravelle could do that.

Thus airlines such as Braniff and Mohawk, which could have had delivery of the Caravelle VIR some three years in advance of the 1-11 waited for the aircraft which was designed to operate economically over the shortest of sectors whilst also offering a range of over 1800 nautical miles at the other end of the spectrum.

Chris Scott
20th Nov 2008, 22:36
That was all very interesting, philbky, and cleared up a number of questions – thank you.

As well as JD, I had wondered what happened to JA and JB. So JB was written off before delivery, but JA was delivered to BUA on 11.10.65. I wonder when she was sold on, and where to.

Hi saman, I've also got a soft spot for the impressive Caravelle, having passengered on one (LHR-NCE) in 1959. But the similarity was indeed superficial. As philbky implies, the OneEleven boasts an APU to provide electrics and air conditioning on the ground, as well as air for engine starting. The Spey is a 2-spool by-pass engine with a by-pass ratio of about 1·0:1 (modern turbofans are ~5:1), giving much better fuel economy than the turbojet Avon, particularly at low altitude. All the systems are simple and automated enough for 2-pilot operation. I think the Caravelle uses a flight engineer? With no thrust reversers, I doubt it could operate schedules into a short field like Jersey. [Forgive me if I'm teaching granny to suck eggs, by the way. Sounds like you might be at Blagnac...]

20th Nov 2008, 23:20
Hi Chris

BUA sold G-ASJA to the USA in October 1969. It became an executive aircraft.

At a slight tangent I've sent you a PM re Morton Air Services/BUIA if you've got a moment to spare!


20th Nov 2008, 23:28
See the news section of HOME OF THE BAC 1-11 ON THE WEB (http://www.bac1-11jet.co.uk/) for some worrying news about the former G-ASJD

21st Nov 2008, 10:51
Came across this thread whilst hunting for something else.

The comments in the posts have the basic story but have confused them somewhat. Could I as a "newbie" set the record straight ?

The prototype BAC 1-11 crashed as a result of entering a "super-stall" from which the crew could not recover. The aircraft fell almost level onto open farmland near Chicklade in Wiltshire and was almost totally destroyed by fire. I believe that there is a memorial to the crew in the church at nearby Hindon. There was a full page photo of the site in the press (Express ?) the next day, and as someone has commented, a very quick glance from the air would have given the impression of an intact aircraft.

Some months later another trials aircraft was thought to have entered a super-stall, the crew deployed a tail parachute which had been fitted to rectify this eventuality. Having recovered normal flight they were unable to jettison the parachute and as a result made a belly landing on West Lavington Down just off the A360 between Salisbury & Devizes. The aircraft suffered remarkably little damage and originally it was thought possible to fly it out. In the end, the wings, tail and engines were removed and the aircraft was transported away (to Hurn ?) by road.

I lived in a village about 5 miles from the crash site but was not living at home at the time having joined the RN.
However, my father saw the huge plume of smoke from the crash and thought that a Gloster Javelin which he had noticed flying around earlier had crashed.
Several years later my father's brother, who worked on the farm containing the crash site, ploughed up a pitot head assembly from the aircraft. He gave this to my father, and for years it was in our garden shed - unfortunately it must have been thrown away after my father's death.
I was actually home on leave when the belly landing occurred and visited the site with my father. It did look strange to see an large (at the time !) airliner on its belly in the middle of a field. The BUA name on the aircraft had been crudely covered up with brown paper and sticky tape. I did take some photographs but these too have vanished over the years.

Hope that helps.

21st Nov 2008, 11:07
One of the modifications made to the 1-11 as a result of the 'SHG crash was a redesign of the nose from a rather bulbous affair to a more sleek and pointed shape.

Can anyone advise as to the reason for this?

As the aircraft already on the production line were modified seemingly without major rebuilding I assume the changes only involved the nose cone and the panels immediately behind.

Does anyone have any verifiable information as to what happened to 'SJB after its heavy landing at Wisley? Were major portions of the structure used in the construction of 'STJ, if not when was the airframe broken up?

Chris Scott
21st Nov 2008, 13:39
Quote from moonrakerz:
Several years later my father's brother, who worked on the farm containing the crash site, ploughed up a pitot head assembly from the aircraft. He gave this to my father, and for years it was in our garden shed - unfortunately it must have been thrown away after my father's death.

Welcome ! What an interesting tale.

Don't know if you're a pilot, but it's probable that either Mike Lithgow (or his copilot) would have been giving close attention to the data from that pitot probe throughout his efforts to recover from the deep stall.

21st Nov 2008, 15:15
Quote from Chris Scott
Don't know if you're a pilot

Far from it, I am (was) a submariner, with just an interest in aviation. We did have some very big rockets on board though !

I wish that I had kept track of that pitot head, I would have given it to the museum at Weybridge or some other good home.

21st Nov 2008, 16:29
One of the modifications made to the 1-11 as a result of the 'SHG crash was a redesign of the nose from a rather bulbous affair to a more sleek and pointed shape.

Can anyone advise as to the reason for this?

As the aircraft already on the production line were modified seemingly without major rebuilding I assume the changes only involved the nose cone and the panels immediately behind.

Does anyone have any verifiable information as to what happened to 'SJB after its heavy landing at Wisley? Were major portions of the structure used in the construction of 'STJ, if not when was the airframe broken up?
There may be something about this in Stephen Skinner's book about the 1-11, if I remember later on I might dig it out and have a read. (here's the book: BAC One-Eleven: The Whole Story: Stephen Skinner: Amazon.co.uk: Books (http://www.amazon.co.uk/BAC-One-Eleven-Whole-Stephen-Skinner/dp/0752427741))

21st Nov 2008, 18:46
. I think the Caravelle uses a flight engineer? With no thrust reversers, I doubt it could operate schedules into a short field like Jersey.

They did operate occasionally into Jersey and the first one I saw in the late 1960's (aged about 6) used all of the length of 27 and then disappeared out of sight down into the bay before climbing out over the sea.

The last one that I saw there would have been in the early 1990's.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
21st Nov 2008, 19:29
I remember a Caravelle at Manchester in the '60s that went off the end of 24 on landing and ended up mired in the mud. We passed the end of 06 in our school bus on the Wilmslow - Altrincham rd in those days (where there were gates which were closed for 06 arriveals) and the Caravelle was so far off the end it was almost up to Altrincham road!

21st Nov 2008, 20:28
The 1-11's bulbous nose was replaced with the sleaker pointy one as part of the "Drag reduction package" this package included the changes to the wing.
This has just been told to me by one of the Aerodynamics team involved.


21st Nov 2008, 21:11
It sounds as if the aircraft didn't perform as planned on the drawing board, necessitating changes to the airframe. A more pointed nose makes sense in this regard, ideally you want as little change of direction to the airflow as possible, but then I'm no aerodynamics engineer ;).

21st Nov 2008, 21:17
Thanks M5dnd. Whilst this is probably part,or even the whole of the answer, publications at the time link the redesign to the accident to 'SHG.

Can't quite see how a deep stall and the shape of the nose tie in so the publications could be wrong or BAC may have used the accident as an excuse to amend the design and improve the aerodynamics.

25th Nov 2008, 19:58
Quote from philbky:

"Does anyone have any verifiable information as to what happened to 'SJB after its heavy landing at Wisley? Were major portions of the structure used in the construction of 'STJ, if not when was the airframe broken up?"

My memory that parts of JB were reported as being used in G-ASVT (c/n 095) which I think was never completed.

26th Nov 2008, 09:52
That could well be a possibility. 095, which was never completed even though it was registered as G-ASVT, is listed in many production lists as a 200AT.

The only definitions of this series number I've ever managed to find have been seemingly humourous - either 200 Airframe Trainer or 200 Apprentice Trainer.

Anyone one have anything to add?

28th Nov 2008, 04:53
I was apprentice at hurn 1969 to1973.
I recall a forward fuselage north of 427 hanger with the c/n 006 I think.
I believe this was G-ASJB.
I think the centre torque box was used in G-ASTJ, but not much else.
Nearly 40 years ago now, but it's amazing the things that stay in the memory!

Happy days.

11th Dec 2008, 22:11
With regard to the tragic loss of G-ASHG at Cratt Hill near Chicklade on Oct 22, 1963 the aircraft was definitely written off. It descended from 18,000 feet in 80 seconds and was destroyed. The accident was caused by a deep stall, the remedy for which was the replacement of servo-tab activated elevators by fully-powered elevators, an alteration to the wing leading edge and the installation of a stick pusher. The alteration to the shape of the nose radome was a separate issue.

G-ASJB’s crash at Wisley on March 18, 1964 was caused by pilot error. This One-Eleven was also written off and the fuselage was sent to Hurn. BAC for a long time maintained the fiction that it was being rebuilt as a BAC owned demonstrator G-ASVT (c/n 095) but it never appeared.

G-ASJD was specially modified with the new powered elevator and modified wing leading edge to take on the stalling tests. In order that the aircraft could recover in the event of a deep stall it was also fitted with a large tail parachute and the reverse thrust actuators were altered so that they could provide upward thrust in the air and thus provide a nose down pitch.

On Aug 20, 1964 while in engaged in stalling trials the pilot Peter Baker concluded that ‘SJD was in a deep stall and deployed the parachute, also using the specially adapted reverse thrust. However the aircraft’s pitch did not drastically change and as the aircraft was being dragged down by the pull of the parchute, the pilot engaged full flap and full power which allowed a wheels-up landing near Tilshead. The reason that the parachute and the “reverse” did not alter the pitch was because the One-Eleven was not stalled. Had the parachute been jettisoned it could have flown back to Wisley. The pilot had obtained a false impression of the One-Eleven being in a stall. G-ASJD was dismantled and taken back to Hurn where it was re-assembled and flew again.

Formal Crash Reports exist for G-ASHG and G-ASJD, but ‘SJB is only mentioned in a digest of 1964 incidents. Those wishing to see photos of the crashes might wish to look at the book I wrote on the BAC One-Eleven.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
11th Dec 2008, 22:48
Steveskinner - thanks for your comprehensive post. You appear to know what you are talking about, so, I have just ordered your book!


Golf Charlie Charlie
12th Dec 2008, 21:05
I did not know until a few days ago that Lithgow once held the world speed record - 735.7 mph in a Swift in 1953.

19th Oct 2009, 19:37
G-ASJD on Salisbury Plain, from an old copy of Air Clues


Ex Hurn App 1960s
8th Apr 2011, 22:07
I have the real story leading to the loss of my aircraft & work mates that Tuesday, I haven't told it to many people as it is still very difficult for me to cope with.


9th Apr 2011, 21:13
It descended from 18,000 feet in 80 seconds

Enough time for struggle, disbelief and shock, but not much else. Very sad.

10th Apr 2011, 19:36
Ex Hurn App 1960s.


I would love to hear more.

I was Hurn Apprentice 1969 to 1973.

My father was a flight shed inspector when the prototype crashed. He was still working on the last Viscounts at the time.

13th Apr 2011, 00:53
B Trubshaw's book does cover the 111 development in reasonable detail and also hints at some of the deficiences in the original elevator system.
In fact he was quite critical of the initial handling as were other BAC TP's.
The accident report (and wire readouts) are printed in the book as an appendix as is his detailed paper on the "Super Stall".
The VC10 had already flown at this time (powered elevator) and it was at a time when there were several new "T Tail" commercial aircraft being developed.
The VC10 had a much wider engine compartment and fully powered elevators and does not appear to have caused great concerns during testing with the greater area of the engines possibly assisting "pitch down" when the airflow was from below as the attitude changed approaching the stall.
It was also a period of quite significant design changes that were not fully covered in the certification regulations of the time and therefore were true pioneering steps forward having only scale wind tunnel tests to go on.
Trubshaw (who was not the CTP at the time and was occupied on the VC10) hints that "it should never have happened" and it seems to have prompted much better "information sharing" for the future.

Tim Byatt
11th Nov 2013, 11:05
I see this test flight accident is mentioned in this week's Flight International (12-18th Nov 2013, page 71, Straight & Level), and the recent 50th anniversary of the tragedy.

I've found a photo online of the wreckage of test flight crash of G-ASHG on 22 October 1963.


When compared to the image of the later forced landing of G-ASJD on 20th August 1964, which I've taken from a book titled "A History of Passenger Aircraft", the difference between the two accidents is clear.


In the first seven people lost their lives, and the hull was destroyed, whilst in the second everyone walked away, and the hull was repaired, flew for BUA/Caledonian, and then re registered as XX105 had a long career with the RAe, DRA/DERA, and finally briefly with QinetiQ, before being retired in 2003, and scrapped in 2010.


Chris Scott
15th Nov 2013, 10:11
Nice picture of JD...

Was trying to see how much flap they may have used for the touchdown, but it's difficult. Might be a T/O setting, but steveskinner says (post of 11/12/2008) they used full flap. That's also not evident from the photo gruntie posted here in 2009. Also curious about the left aileron, but perhaps it was pushed upwards on impact.

Internet search for the AIB Accident report CAP 222 mainly reveals that there is a light a/c type of that name! Has anyone got a copy? philkby?

15th Nov 2013, 11:42
Has anyone got a copy?If all else fails, the CAA Library at Gatwick will almost certainly have a copy that you can look at.

Chris Scott
15th Nov 2013, 13:43
Thanks Dave - didn't think of that. :ok:

17th Oct 2014, 18:41
My father took the plane apart for return trip to Hurn. I have the dvd of part of this operation. (He was trying out his new cine camera).

25th Oct 2014, 08:15
Can anyone throw any light on why one of the entry/ exit pedestrian gates at the car park on Viscount Way was thus called ? Was it official this naming ?

21st May 2015, 11:24
Mike Lithgow was my uncle (my mother's brother). Sadly I never got to meet him. He must have been a very special person. He did hold the world air speed record, I believe several times, flying a Supermarine Swift. He also did the flying in the British film "Breaking the Sound Barrier", flew Swordfish torpedo bombers from the Arc Royal, and was involved in the pursuit and attacking of the Bismarck. He wrote his book "Mach I" and edited "Vapour Trails". He must have led an exciting but sadly short life. We were living in Victoria BC Canada when we heard the news of the crash, names were not mentioned but my Mum knew this was "his" plane and was very afraid that he was onboard. Later that day received the news from Britain. My Mum kept a scrap book of all his exploits and was very proud of her brother, as I am of my uncle.

RIP Uncle Michael - wish I had known you...