Newchurch Piper Comanche crash - May 1972

From Wightpedia

On Friday afternoon 5 May 1972, a Piper Twin Comanche crashed near Newchurch, Isle of Wight killing the three people onboard.

The Piper Comanche had taken off from Bembridge to fly to White Waltham, Buckinghamshire when, ten minutes after, the twin-engined plane spiralled down into soft mud of a field at Pope's Farm, Newchurch.

Eyewitnesses reported that shortly after takeing-off into cloud, the aircraft was heard, but not seen, over Bembridge Airfield apparently in trouble. Later Newchurch villagers heard the aircraft circling overhead, then a noise described as "like a car back-firing," and something apparently fell from the aircraft. Seconds later the aircraft fell into the field and practically disintegrated on impact[1].

The report by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch concluded in 1974 that the noise "like a car back-firing" was the outer portion of both wings becoming detached due to an excessive load placed upon them due to the pilot suddenly pulling up the aircraft. Examination of the aircraft's instruments found that the artificial horizon and turn and slip indicators had been defective prior to the crash[2].

The pilot of the aircraft was Mr. S. G. Nicholson, 59, of Maidenhead, Berkshire; the passengers Mr. H. A. J. Silley, 73, of Great Hallingbury, Hertfordshire and Mr. C. Granville, 36, of Bletchley, Buckinghamshire. It was reported that Mr. Silley and Mr. Granville had earlier crossed to the Island in a boat belonging to a friend in Seaview, and during the afternoon had visited a Bembridge boatyard. Mr. Silley had spent his working life in the ship repairing industry and had been responsible for the moderation of the ship repair yard at Falmouth in the late 1950's[1].

  1. 1.0 1.1 Isle of Wight County Press - 13 May 1972
  2. AAIB Report No: 12/1974. Piper PA-30 (Twin Comanche), G-ASLD. Report on the accident at Newchurch, Isle of Wight, on 5 May 1972