On this day in history….4th June 1967

On this day in history : 4th June 1967 – The Stockport air disaster occurs – when British Midlands flight G-ALHG crashes in Hopes Carr, killing 72 passengers and crew….

The aircraft involved, seen at Liverpool in February 1965 – Image credit : Ken Fielding via Flickr

The aircraft had been chartered by Arrowsmith Holidays Ltd and was carrying 5 members of crew and 79 holidaymakers home to Manchester Airport from Palma, Majorca…. The flight had left the Spanish island at 5am….

As the plane came into land at Manchester the first attempt had to be aborted as the pilot was unable to line up with the runway centreline and so called an overshoot…. Then as the aircraft circled around to try for a second time engines numbers 3 and 4 cut out as the plane reached over Stockport…. The aircraft crashed at 10.09am in the small open area of Hopes Carr, near to Stockport town centre…. Despite it being a heavily populated area thankfully there were no casualties on the ground….

Members of the public and the police managed to pull 12 people from the wreckage – but within a few minutes the mangled plane was engulfed in flames, killing all of those trapped inside who had survived the impact….

Being a Sunday the majority of people were not at work…. It is estimated some 10,000 turned up to view the scene – which hampered the rescue services…. 72 people out of the 84 onboard had been killed – Captain Henry Marlow survived but suffered amnesia…. An investigation concluded the engines had cut out due to fuel starvation, resulting in a loss of power and making the aircraft impossible to control…. Four months later it emerged that five days prior to the crash it had been noted that the aircraft was experiencing fuel problems….

Another contributing factor to the crash may have been pilot fatigue – as Captain Marlow had been on duty for some 13 hours, which was perfectly within the legal guidelines at the time…. He had already made a couple of minor errors during the flight before misjudging the first attempted landing – but it does have to be said he did at least have the foresight to divert over Hopes Carr hence avoiding residential areas….

Memorials at crash site – Image credit Zzztriple2000 – CC BY 3.0

On this day in history….8th January 1989

On this day in history : 8th January 1989 – The Kegworth air disaster ~ A Boeing 737 crashes on to the M1 motorway near to East Midlands airport…. 47 people are killed….

A British Midland Boeing 737-400, similar to the aircraft which crashed – Pedro Aragao CC BY-SA 3.0

The British Midland operated Boeing 737, Flight 092, had taken off from Heathrow at 19.52hrs and was bound for Dublin, when one of the brand new aircraft’s engines caught fire – forcing it to divert to East Midlands airport….

It had begun its descent, passing low over the village of Kegworth in Leicestershire, when it was reported that the second engine had also failed…. The chances of this happening are a hundred million to one….

The plane crashed on to the motorway and broke into three pieces at 20.26hrs – thankfully no vehicles on the ground were caught in the impact…. The aircraft was just a few hundred metres from the runway….

Scene of the disaster – Image : Air Accidents Investigation Branch – OGL v1.0

The UK’s Air Accidents Investigation Branch discovered a fan blade had broken in the left engine, causing the air conditioning to malfunction…. Subsequently the flight deck filled with smoke and the crew wrongly assumed a fault had occurred in the right engine…. Earlier models of the Boeing 737 had ventilated the flight deck from the right – but the new 737-400 series operated a different system – only the crew had not been made aware of this – and they had shut down the wrong engine….

Out of the 126 crew and passengers on board 47 were killed and 74 were seriously injured….

Site of the disaster – photo taken May 2006 – Andrew Tatlow – CC BY-SA 2.0