View Full Version : Aerovan crash, Manchester, 1957

Shaggy Sheep Driver
7th Oct 2011, 09:06
Meridian Air Maps operated Miles Aerovan 4 G-AISF on aerial survey work from October 1955 until it crashed on take-off from Manchester (Ringway) on 29 April 1957.

Does anyone have any details of what exactly happened?

7th Oct 2011, 09:25
Reference to the aircraft here:-
Jean Lennox Bird - Key Publishing Ltd Aviation Forums (http://forum.keypublishing.com/showthread.php?t=81047)

Fuel pump failure leading to crash on take-off.

12th Nov 2012, 17:48
Hi, i witnessed the crash at Ringway, i was 11 years old at the time and had gone to watch the planes with my father, we were stood near the Fairey engineering end of the airport.
The aircraft had taken off but suddenly my father who was ex R A F shouted thats not right throttle up go back up, the aircraft lost height and hit the runway hard bouncing back up in the air the undercarrage did not brake and the aircraft continued bouncing along the runway my father was still shouting go back up go back up, the aircraft did not seem to slow down, workers at Fairey were then running out of the hangers.
The aircraft hit the metal perimeter fence which flipped it over it then slid on its back accross the B road and into a field, there was no fire, several people from Fairey were soon on the scene and a blue van pulled into the field, this had a ladder which was used to help down some survivors that had climbed out on to the back of the aircraft.
I can remember this as if it was yesterday, sadly i have only just found out that the female pilot and another person were killed in the crash

12th Nov 2012, 20:42
Interesting, my father was working at Ringway then, for AVROs and would have known all about it. I was 8 months old and now it's a few years too late to ask him!

Shaggy Sheep Driver
12th Nov 2012, 21:08
Which runway was it? What road did it cross? If you were at Faireys perhaps the Wilmslow / Altrincham 'A' road. Or was it the 'B' road to Styal, along the south side, now gone?

I'd always assumed this would have been a typical EFATO-in-a -piston-twin accident, leading to loss of control and a roll into the ground. Baley's description doesn't support that and if there were survivors that's unlikely anyway.

Is there an accident report available?

13th Nov 2012, 08:49
Hi, as i was 11 years old at the time, the plane only turned over on its back and did not roll or break up and it was the road that went from Hale to Wilmslow this was the road that had the traffic control barrier.
The aircraft had twin fins and twin engines and it was 1957, we were stood further along the fence near Fairey this was not far from the Army Tank training ground.
At least Three people climbed out of the aircraft and stood on the back of it, i would imagine there was substantial damage to the cockpit and front of the aircraft as the perimeter fence was a stout metal one.
It could have been another accident that is not reported but it seems like the Aerovan, there was even a light aircraft sticking out of the ground behind our scout hut for a few days this does not show up on any reports? this was at the other end of the runway off Ringway road.
I also saw the Viscount crash this was 1957 i was stood in the school playground{ Shadow Moss},
I lived a stones throw from the runway, i even went inside the DC3 that had crashed at Heyhead i was 5 at the time when kids were safe to play out, a farmer chased us off.
A few years later i watched the fire service torch a Swordfish and an Avro Anson for fire practice, if you find out any more on what i think was the Aerovan please let me know.

longer ron
13th Nov 2012, 19:04
Jean Bird in WRAF(VR) uniform with wings
Google Image Result for http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/images/aviation_timeline/british-military-aviation/1952/thumbs/x003-0288-001.jpg (http://www.google.co.uk/imgres?um=1&hl=en&sa=N&biw=994&bih=602&tbm=isch&tbnid=uUAv3bG-avxM3M:&imgrefurl=http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/research/history-of-aviation-timeline/interactive-aviation-timeline/british-military-aviation/1952.aspx&docid=gxCna-keEXHdFM&imgurl=http://www.rafmuseum.org.uk/images/aviation_timeline/british-military-aviation/1952/thumbs/x003-0288-001.jpg&w=200&h=293&ei=MqeiUJ2tL6Ss0QWj-IC4Bg&zoom=1&iact=hc&vpx=460&vpy=134&dur=8913&hovh=234&hovw=160&tx=67&ty=188&sig=105885429085578608702&page=1&tbnh=143&tbnw=89&start=0&ndsp=20&ved=1t:429,r:3,s:0,i:78)

Shaggy Sheep Driver
13th Nov 2012, 19:45
It would have been the Aerovan. It had a big stubby short fuselage, a thin high tail boom, and a tripple tail. Here's a picture of Sierra Foxtrot, the one in this accident.

Miles M.57 Aerovan IV, G-AISF, Meridian Air Maps (http://www.abpic.co.uk/photo/1337801/)

It's plain to see there'd be little protection for the pilot in the event of collision with anything substantial!

I remember the DC3 crash (a newpaper flight, carb ice, crashed on t/o) and the Viscount at Shadow Moss Rd (flap bolt failure, crashed into houses on short final), and the went on my bicycle to view the aftermath of the British Midland Argonaught crash in Stockport (fuel selector lever mechanism worn allowing fuel starvation).

I well remember the old Wilmslow Road as well, and the traffic control barriers at the end of 06. One morning while passing on the bus to school there was a Caravelle that had gone off the end of 24 on landing and was stuck in the soft ground between the 06 threshold and the road.

Interestingly if you follow the old road from the Romper pub it ends at a crash gate just before the Runway Visitor Park. The road actually continues inside the airfield fence, and in 2003 I was invited to fly our Chipmunk into Manchester as part of the 100 years of flight celebrations at the viewing park. I landed long and taxied off 24R (as it still was back then) onto a 'light aircraft taxyway' which was actually that old Wilmslow - Altrincham road!

It seemed odd to be taxying an aeroplane down the same bit of road (complete with faded central white line) that I used to cycle down as a schoolboy!

longer ron
13th Nov 2012, 21:33
And a tragic end for the first female to be awarded RAF wings,I always had a keen interest in our ATA girls and as far as I am aware only JLB and Jackie (Sorour) Moggridge were awarded the full flying badge during the WRAF VR scheme.
Very sad

Sir George Cayley
14th Nov 2012, 19:54
I carry a list in my head of a/c that should have a replica built. The Aerovan is about top of that list.

The Hilson Praga is next.


Krystal n chips
15th Nov 2012, 05:48
" we were stood further along the fence near Fairey this was not far from the Army Tank training ground."

Sorry about the thread drift, and I am not being contentious here, but for somebody who spent a fair amount of his youth risking life and limb on the Wilmslow rd, at the back of Fairey's and on the old brickworks site, I have never been aware of a tank training ground....so where ( and when ) was it, exactly, please ?

Shaggy Sheep Driver
15th Nov 2012, 08:35
Perhaps the poster is referring to the disused concrete disposal pans and taxy tracks that used to be opposite the Romper, on the other side of Sunbank Lane to Fairey's (long since disappeared under warehousing). I remember using that when I was learning to drive in the '60s!

There is nothing else in the area that could be interpreted as a 'Tank training ground' as far as I know.

15th Nov 2012, 17:25
Hi, yes it was opposite the Romper we used to watch them, my sister in law has a photo of one on the concrete, my Brother who is 11 years older than me has confirmed the aircraft was the Aerovan.
A Havarde trainer also crashed at the same spot in 1950 my brother remembers this one,i also spent most of my time near Fairey watching the now classics,a friend of mine ran onto the tarmac and picked up a spent starter cartidge from a Gannet, a mechanic tried to catch him.

Happy Days

Krystal n chips
16th Nov 2012, 05:02

Thanks for the reply...:ok: If there is any chance of the photo being scanned, I am sure many of us would enjoy seeing it.

I had always assumed the site was part of the old RAF Ringway complex....however, I suggest "storage" would be more apt rather than training....can't see the population of Hale Barnes taking kindly to tanks rumbling down Hale Road really...:)

To be honest, having an aversion to death and the A538 as a very potential source of such at the time, I spent more time at the Airport hotel field, and used the footpath to the South side in preference.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
16th Nov 2012, 09:00
We used to cycle down past the Romper to the point where the A538 ran along a former taxyway before turning left past the 06 threshold where the barriers were which stopped road traffic for 06 landings.

The road was marked on the taxyway by old railway sleepers painted orange and white stripes IIRC, and just on the left hand bend the minor road down to Castle Mill (remeber the outdoor pool?) and Ashley joined the 538.

Shaggy Sheep Driver
2nd Mar 2013, 18:36
Interesting follow up to this thread today. I was at the Airport Viewing park between a Nimrod tour and Concorde tour when a gentleman I won't identify introduced himself. He'd read this thread, and was a witness to the entire flight, from start up to crash. And his account fits the 'loss of control after engine failure' scenario I'd always though this tragedy was.

He saw Jean LB and the photographers with their equipment board through the rear clamshell doors, watched the take off and left turn, and heard the engine fail, followed by a classic stall-spin. The aircraft went in vertically on the boundary of the airfield near a house that used to stand on the old Styal road not too far from the brick works. The Aerovan was destroyed on impact as you'd expect of a wooden structure, with no fire. There were no recognisable bits of aeroplane left after the ground collision.

One can surmise that the Aerovan, powered by two Gipy Majors, would not have much of a single engine safety speed. One can imagine both Gipsys would be at full power at the time of the failure, so there are two possibilities:

The engine failed and the aeroplane immediately stalled and rolled into an incipient spin into the ground.


The engine failed, Jean LB tried to make a return to the cross runway, and then there was a stall/spin into the ground (classic 'don't turn back').

Tragic, in any event.

2nd Mar 2013, 23:31
I well remember seeing an Aerovan (in an open blister hangar early sixties) on the original (civil) part of what is RAF/RM Chivenor.
This was alongside the railway line (long gone) and probably only visible from the train (en-route Air Cadet camp).
Could have been the ideal flying camper van if allowed on the PFA (as it was)
Chiv was a great camp with hundreds of Hunter movements all the time,and our WO got a T7 trip lucky chap.
Just had a look on Google Earth,and that old blister may have survived as part of an industrial estate.Its in the correct place alongside what is now a cycle way/coastal path.I better have a look next time up that way,may be an old Pobjoy (Scion) lurking in the brambles.
This had been the pre war field for a service to Lundy Island.

3rd Mar 2013, 06:56
That aircraft would have been G-AJOG which was burnt at the airfield.

Atcham Tower
3rd Mar 2013, 07:41
For the record, G-AJOG had become OO-ERY by the time I saw it in the blister hangar on 26 August 1960. Obviously, it never got to Belgium!

3rd Mar 2013, 18:04
Do we know when this machine met its end !,and why.

4th Mar 2013, 07:15
"G-AJOG/OO-ERY was the last Miles Aerovan to survive,in 1963 I was part of a team sent down to Wrafton Gate (a strip at the end of R.A.F Chivenors airfield) to remove the engines,instruments and other recoverable equipment from this aeroplane,the airframe despite my pleas to the very few people interested in old aeroplanes at that time to save her,she was set alight,the fire brigade arrived on the scene to read us the riot act and put the fire out ! the remains were burnt on November 5th by the R.A.F.
The company who purchased G-AJOG was Devonair Ltd for use on a ad hoc air service to the Lundy Islands,the aircraft came from the Belgium Royal family but became the subject of a complicated legal battle and it remained in the blister hangar at Wfafton Gate.
For many years I always thought that the aircraft never actually flew to Lundy but only just recently I have confirmation that she flew there at least once quote this e-mail 'With regard the Aerovan,yes it certainly flew to Lundy,Martin Harman,the then owner of the Island around 1959 invited the R.A.F officers over to the Island for a cull of the red deer,the officers provided their own guns and ammunition,we certainly have a photograph of the aeroplane on Lundy following the successful deer shoot' so ended a forty year old mystery for me.
The idea was to fit the Aerovan with Lycomings much like the Miles Gemini conversion in Australia done some years later,however the ownership problems held everything up.
One remarkable story about the Aerovan can be summed up in this accident at Croydon in 1944,one of these machines loaded with racing pidgeons took off in a strong wind failing to get any altitude over 100 feet,it turned downwind after flying for three miles out from the airfield then struck a tree,and disintigrated with hundreds of birds flying away ! performance was not one of its good points.
The only other machine to be developed was the Hurel Dubois high lift high aspect ratio version of the Aerovan aircraft which was later developed into a special aircraft used for geophysical survey work in France."

This information comes from Hairyplane via another Forum.

4th Mar 2013, 19:58
Thanks for that NF was it Red !

5th Mar 2013, 03:59
Thanks for the update - I always wondered what happened to her. The Aerovan was visible from the road though a window in the hanger - I was shown it by a school chum of mine (Martin Looker?), who said it was his father who was going to provide air service to Lundy. IIRC the hanger was also the home of the North Devon Flying Club and a red Magister.

India Four Two
5th Mar 2013, 04:30

When I did my Flying Scholarship at White Waltham in 1966, the CFI was Maurice Looker. Was he your chum's father?

6th Mar 2013, 03:50
Sorry, no idea but if he was ex-Chivenor (of which there were many in North Devon) he very well could be. 1966 was when I left Barnstaple for the bright lights of Bournemouth and, eventually, a student apprenticeship with BAC Hurn.

India Four Two
6th Mar 2013, 15:52

Yes, he was at Chivenor - see here:
and here:
aero club | flying club | royal aero | 1952 | 3430 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1952/1952%20-%203430.html)

There is also a picture of Maurice Looker on the first page of this Flight article:
1968 | 0782 | Flight Archive (http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1968/1968%20-%200782.html)

I recognized him immediately, because of the mustache. Interestingly, I never flew with him, even though he was the CFI. My GFT was with Mr. Wright, whose first name I never knew, because of course, he was called Wilbur. :)

7th Mar 2013, 02:39
Sorry, I'm not sure if I ever met Martin's dad. Thanks for all the links to my childhood! I went to Pilton Primary right underneath Chivenor's approach and several of my friends were "Chivenor Chappies" as they were referred to in school.
I'll be back in the UK in August but sadly will have no time to visit Barum.

16th Mar 2013, 12:37
I knew there was another 'similar' type around at the time as it appeared on the cover of some very old copies of Flight/Aeroplane.
This was the Portsmouth Aerocar.
Slightly more adavanced with retract gear and partial metal construction,but apparently never made it into production.
Same 150hp Cirrus engines (with vp props),and looks quite smart with the gear up.
The 'brochure' shows a better cruise speed than the A-Van,with a s-eng climb at max wt of about 230 ft-min.(an Islander at max is similar (in practice).
The Company still exists in the same area,but went on to an engineering only base,having been an airline operator pre war.
The A-Car design seems to have been sound,but no doubt the market very uncertain at the time.
It would be interesting to see what it could have done if the 0-540 lyc was available.

15th Jul 2013, 01:20
Happened i was in the Barnstaple area last Sat (after a trip to E-Cott) and having flown past Chiv en route to the coast decided to check what was left where the original 'North Devon' airfield was situated.
The original railway line that ran alongside the northern boundary is now a cycle way and runs right alonside the 'still surviving' blister plus a couple of other hangars/sheds.These are now part of the Chivenor industrial park,and the original airfield is a housing estate,(where i had been winched up in a piston Whirlwind on a ATC camp).
It was good to see the buildings still in use (over 80 years old),and there is still aviation at Chiv with the ATC Grobs plus the SAR flight.
E-cott is a haven of flying as it should be,and very easy to find with the Burrington radar golf ball in the circuit.
Anyone wishing to experience some gliding can book a flight in the 'birdfalk' plus a T-Moth is based there doing booked trips.

21st Jan 2016, 15:26
I ended up at this site after seeing an unusual aircraft (to me at least) in a 1956 film called "The Hostage". A low budget British film in black and white, shown on TV (January 2016).
The registration was G-AJKP, and I discovered from a registration database that it was a Miles Aerovan. What interested me was that on the apron, the rear part of the fuselage was lying a few yards away from the aircraft. The storyline required the pilot (played by Ron Randall) to dump a packing case into the sea. The box was slid into the rear of the aircraft. I expected the rear part of the fuselage to then be re-attached, but the aircraft took off without it, leaving the rear end open to the sky.
Over the sea, the (lone) pilot selected autopilot and went to the rear to shove the packing case out of the open end of the fuselage.
I did further research on the aircraft and it had originally been owned by a company in Birmingham, and later changed ownership, moving to St. Helier, Jersey. At the time of the 1956 film the owner is listed as F.G. Miles Ltd., Shoreham, Sussex. They had acquired it in February 1954.
On 21st March, 1958, two years after being used in the film, it is listed as 'destroyed'. Does anyone know if it was destroyed in an accident, or was is just scrapped?

21st Jan 2016, 16:40
G-AJKP was destroyed in a fatal accident at Oldbury Worcestershire 17 December 1957. Almost certainly one of the last flying Aerovans.

21st Jan 2016, 16:54
Drifting back to White Waltham, after I had completed my Flying Scholarship at Sywell in July 61, I left school in summer 62 and worked 6 days a week in Sainsburys in Eastcote so I could fly on the 7th. I went to WLAC at WW and joined. The CFI took pity on me (and my Dad) and the deal was I would be dropped off on a Monday morning at the CFI's house in Ickenham and I the drove CFI in his VW Beetle to WW. The only two instructors I flew with were McDouall (once) and Ginns, and once with a BEA Trident fleet training captain, Ward. Cannot remember if either McDouall or Ginns was CFI though (long time ago!). Next flying was Chipmunks on N Airfield at the Towers.

21st Jan 2016, 21:52
I was interested to see the reference to "Mac" McDuall, who looked like everyone's benevolent grandfather, and despite having cross eyes was a great pilot, ex ATA as was the then CFI at West London Aero Club, Joan Hughes when I did my PPL with them in 1955. Mac had a great fund of aviation stories, the only person that I know that knocked the funnel off a steamroller with a Wellington! All retailed after flying in the bar!

India Four Two
22nd Jan 2016, 03:11

What aircraft did WLAC have in 1962?

In 1966 when I was there, they had Colts, Ercoupes and two Chipmunks for spinning (G-AOTH and G-AORF)

22nd Jan 2016, 07:47
At WLAC I have recorded a Beagle A61 (once) G-ARUX and J1/N G-AGTT, which I flew several times. I was pretty impecunious and they let me have the J/1 for about a less than the Terrier. The flight I did with Capt Ward was to Rearsby was to collect a tailplane, a flight which they "let me have" for half price! Just looked again at my logbook - there is a signature by the CFI which I cannot decipher, but looks like it begins with "G", so may have been the "Ginns" who checked me out in the J/1

Just looked on Google and there are several "Ginns" in Ickenham still

lawrence hole
23rd Jan 2016, 08:49
Another photo of G-AISF. Does anyone know where this might have been taken ?
http://i914.photobucket.com/albums/ac345/aerofoil/G-AISF-Aerovan_zpscr52btfb.jpg (http://s914.photobucket.com/user/aerofoil/media/G-AISF-Aerovan_zpscr52btfb.jpg.html)

lawrence hole
24th Jan 2016, 10:06
The church showing in the background on the right looks very much like the one at Lowfield Village to the southern side of Gatwick which is still there, although nowadays surrounded by industrial units. The runway would be therefore be in the right position, if that is the case.

28th Jan 2016, 15:51
I workled at Shoreham for F G Miles, Shoreham, that was where Meridian Air Maps was based.
Another Aerovan was used a trial for the Hurel-Dubois very high aspect ratio wing, which was planned to put on a new design.
That came to sad end afrer a heavy landibg when the tail boom broke off.
We thought the woodworms had stopped holding hands
When the pilot came into the Drawing Office someone asked him what happened.
He said, I have shortened it a bit.
That was Peter Hollick, otherwise kniown as "Alco"

31st Jan 2016, 09:03
The last Aerovan was still flying in Italy during 1968 if this link is correct.
Miles Aerovan: Cheap Hauler : Atomic Toasters (http://atomictoasters.com/2012/06/miles-aerovan-cheap-hauler/)

longer ron
1st Feb 2016, 11:35
...Aerovan on feature film. I ended up at this site after seeing an unusual aircraft (to me at least) in a 1956 film called "The Hostage". A low budget British film in black and white, shown on TV (January 2016).quote

Here are some screen grabs from the above film,obviously shot at the old Ramsgate Airport (not Manston) with its very distinctive terminal/tower - which was criminally demolished ....

The other aircraft probably operated by Air Kruise who were based there at the time....





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