Lightning Plane Crash

Discussion in 'Aircraft Pictures' started by Elmas, Aug 2, 2015.

  1. Elmas

    Elmas Active Member

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    2aa42e6bfb64e38b446c5f3e8ef8aa9e52d11d67.jpeg

    On the 19th of September, 1962, the plane seen here was coming in for a landing after what seemed like a successful test run. A fire caused the plane to lose control, and the pilot had just enough time to eject to safety.
     
  2. Vic Balshaw

    Vic Balshaw Well-Known Member

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  3. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #3 stona, Aug 2, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2015
    It's a well known image. Some considered the photograph to have been faked at the time, until the Ministry of Defence attempted to put a 'D' Notice on it (to prevent publication) thereby inadvertantly confirming it as genuine!
    Some info and links here.
    ASN Aircraft accident 13-SEP-1962 English Electric Lightning F1 XG332

    The tractor driver (a Fordson Super Major for those who care) is the then 23 year old Mick Sutterby who gave this account of the crash in 2011:

    "I followed my father into work at de Havilland, Hatfield in 1954 when I was 15. My father was the foreman in charge of the aerodrome and gardens. My job in the summer was gang-mowing the airfield and at the time of the crash in 1962 the grass had stopped growing and we were trimming round the ‘overshoot’ of the runway with a ‘side-mower’.

    I stopped to talk to a chap with a camera who was walking up a ditch to the overshoot. I stopped to tell him that he shouldn’t be here, I heard a roar and turned round and he took the picture! He turned out to be a friend of the pilot and had walked up the ditch to photograph his friend in the Lightning. I saw some bits fly off the plane before it crashed but it was the photographer who told me he had ejected.

    There was not a big explosion when it crashed, just a loud ‘whhooooof’. I was about 200 yards from the crash scene. I saw men running out of the greenhouses and checking the scene of the crash. The works fire brigade were on the scene within a minute. Somewhere at home I have a picture of it burning. Although the picture shows it nose diving to the ground, in fact it was slowly turning over and it hit the ground upside down nose first.

    I was later told that if the pilot had ejected a split second later he would have ejected himself into the ground. I was very lucky. If I had known he was coming into land, I would have been positioned near the ILS (Instrument Landing System) aerial which was only 20 yards or so from the crash site! I believe the photographer had his photo restricted by the Air Ministry for – I think – about 3 months because the plane was secret.

    He then took it to the Daily Mail who said it was a fake. The photo was eventually published by the Daily Mirror. From there it went round the world, and I remember seeing a copy in the RAF museum at Hendon. I recollect the photographer usually photographed hunting scenes for magazines like The Field. I recollect that the pilot broke his legs but really was very lucky. I hope this is interesting. All from memory!"


    This image shows clearly where pilot George Aird and his ejection seat went through the roof of one of the green houses, and the scar and wreckage left by the arrival of the Lightning.

    [​IMG]

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  4. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    #4 pbehn, Aug 2, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2015
    It looks to me as if it may have been re touched a little. Something looks fake or posed about the guy on the tractor, but what does a guy on a tractor watching a lightning crash actually look like? Maybe photos of aeroplanes pointing at the ground jar on the mind so it seems unreal.
     
  5. stona

    stona Well-Known Member

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    #5 stona, Aug 2, 2015
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2015
    The 'guy on the tractor' explained that he turned when he heard a roar. I suspect that he was actually reacting to the sound of the ejection system. The photographer only took two photographs of the incident and the famous one above was the first.

    The photographer Jim Meads was already a professional at the time and had an on going and successful career. He is best known for 'rural' photography, particularly images of English hunts. He is one of Britain's pre-eminent photographers in this field.

    The famous image is the result of an incredibly lucky coincidence of a professional photographer being present at a particular moment in time and having the ability to capture that moment for eternity.

    Cheers

    Steve
     
  6. pbehn

    pbehn Well-Known Member

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    I read that after I posted sorry. Maybe the fact that it is so well framed makes it look posed. Still photos of accidents frequently look strange.
     
  7. herman1rg

    herman1rg Well-Known Member

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    From the crash report
    "Fortunately the nose pitched up, giving test pilot George Aird time to eject. He came down through a greenhouse roof, breaking both legs and right thigh. He was unconscious due to the impact of landing and was woken by jets of cold water from the greenhouse's sprinkler system."

    I know the Gentleman would have been in serious pain but that part just tickled my sense of humour
     
  8. Airframes

    Airframes Benevolens Magister

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    A great guy, George Aird. I had the pleasure, and privilege, of meeting him a couple of times in the early 1980's, when at that time he displayed the BAe owned Mosquito TIII, sadly lost at Barton in 1996.
    He had some stories to tell, not just about aviation, but also aviation-related parties !
    And if you wanted to see a really low-flying Mosquito, George was the one who would 'cut the grass' on Press or airshow practice days - incredible !!
     
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  9. Gnomey

    Gnomey World Travelling Doctor
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    Cracking shot! Can see why people thought it was fake, almost too well captured to be true...
     
  10. Wayne Little

    Wayne Little Well-Known Member

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    Great shots and info guys.
     
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