- Air Crash at Winkton G-AOVD 24th Dec 1958
Infobox Airliner accident|name=Winkton Air Crash
December 24, 1958
Pilot Errorand CFIT
Site=Sopley Park & Winkton
Aircraft Type=Bristol Britannia 312
Destination=Hurn Airfield|Now Bournemouth International
Survivors = 3 |
G-AOVD was a
Bristol Britannia312 operated by BOACthat crashed near Christchurch, Dorsetin the south of Englandon Christmas eve1958, killing 2 of the 5 crew and all 7 passengers [http://www.Aviation-safety.net/database/record.php?id=19581224-1] .
The aircraft took off from
Heathrow International Airportat 10:10am on a test flightto renew its certificate of airworthiness with 12 persons aboard including 5 crew. After completing the test, at approximately 11:55am, the crew requested clearance to descend from 12,000 feet to 3,000 feet for approach to Hurn Airport, possibly as an alternate destination due to poor weather at Heathrow. Approximately 3 minutes later at 11:58am, Hurn Airport lost contact with the aircraft as it struck the ground, crossing a road into a ploughed field, bringing down telephone lines and trees and alerting residents in the nearby villages. Upon realising they had lost contact with the aircraft, the controller at Hurn contacted the emergency services giving the last know position before contact was lost. Likewise the residents of Winkton, Sopley, and people living near Bransgorecontacted emergency services saying they believed that they had heard the sound of a low plane accompanied with with the sound of a crash.
The crash was attributed to a failure on the part of the
Captainand First Officerto correctly establish the altitudeof the aircraft before and during the descent. The Bristol Britanniaaircraft was fitted with a 3-handed altimeterwhich required a higher degree of concentration to read correctly than was desirable. The crew misread the instrument believing that they were at 11,500 feet when they began descending, when in actuality they were only at 1,500 feet. As a result they flew the aircraft into the ground which was obscured by fogat the time. The type of flight in which the aircraft was engaged was also thought to be a contributing factor.
On the 24th of December 1958,
Christmas Eve, much of the south of England was covered in thick fog making travel by any means hazardous. With regards to air travel many aircraft were having to be diverted as visibilitywas below the minimum permissible distance at most of the airports on the south coast. To a pilot who was less than aware of the conditions on the ground and the altitude at which they were flying, this fog would have an appearance very similar to normal cloud cover. For the pilots of G-AOVD this may of added to the illusion that they were at a much higher altitude and that they were reading the instruments correctly.
Emergency response and rescue of survivors
At approximately midday the members of the volunteer
fire servicein Christchurch were alerted by way of an air raid siren, calling them to the station to respond to the report of the crash. The initial report from Hurn Airport stated that they were unaware of the type of aircraft involved or how many passengers were being carried, and that they believed the aircraft was to the north of the airport when it crashed. However upon receiving updated information on the reports from Winkton and Sopley the fire crews decided to start the search for the aircraft in that area. The appliance (NA English: fire truck) searching in Winkton discovered the location of the wreckage after traveling a short distance along the 'Burley Road' and finding telephone poles and cables which had been broken and dragged into a field off the road. A foot search was mounted and eventually the crew spotted some broken trees along with aircraft debris and a fire. The crew chief sent a message to fire control to confirm the location of the crash and set up a rendezvous at a local Public Houseto give emergency services a positive location. Another appliance which had been sent to Sopley to search there was unable to be contacted as it was not fitted with a radio, fortunately however its crew came across other appliances heading the other way to the incident, and were then informed of the location. Another hindrance to the emergency effort was the lack of a 4WDappliance which meant that the firemen had to attempt to drive an 8 ton vehicle over a ploughed field which added delay to the rescue and was only accomplished with a lot of effort. While this was going on the crew chief and some of the crew from the first appliance on the scene continued to search on foot and eventually found the remains of the cockpit with the injured co-pilot trapped inside. They began to cut him free and as further emergency services arrived on the scene, a coordinated search and rescue effort was mounted over the site fanning out and finding a further 2 survivors. The fire station was eventually able to confirm what aircraft had been involved and the number of people on board at the time. Having received this information the emergency services were able to account for all the people involved and continue putting out the fires.
It was concluded that this crash was a type known as C.F.I.T. (
Controlled Flight Into Terrain) and that there were no defects with the aircraft or its systems which contributed to the crash, for this the failure to read the instruments correctly rests with the captain. This was not the first crash involving a crew misreading this type of altimeterin this long distance high altitude aircraft. As a direct result of this and other similar incidents altimeters would now be required to display a cross-hatch or chequered flag when indicating an altitude below 1500 feet. Furthermore all fire appliances in Christchurch would now be fitted with radios for improved communication, and when 4WD appliances first became available, Christchurch was one of the first rural stations to be allocated one.
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