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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 153973
Last updated: 18 August 2020
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Date:10-JAN-1956
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic UH12 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hiller UH-12A (HT.1)
Owner/operator:705 Sqn FAA RN
Registration: XB518
C/n / msn: 547
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RNAS Gosport (HMS Siskin), Gosport, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Landing
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RNAS Gosport,(HMS Siskin), Gosport, Hampshire
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Hiller UH-12 HT.1 ex-US Navy Bu Aer No 134737. Delivered 13 August 1953 to Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm under MDAP (Military Development Assistance Program). Issued to 705 NAS Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm

Written off 10 January 1956: Crashed nose first at Gosport, Hampshire after the inexperienced pilot failed to arrest the descent during a practice autorotation. Pilot - Commander Robert Digby Head - was killed. According to a contemporary newspaper report, which reported on the inquest into the pilots death: ("Hampshire Telegraph" - Friday 27 January 1956):

"HELICOPTER'S UNUSUAL LANDING
A verdict of "Accidental Death" was returned by a jury at a Gosport inquest on Wednesday on Cmdr. Robert Digby Head, 38 year old pilot of a training helicopter which crashed at H.M.S. Siskin on January 10.

The Coroner for South Hants Mr. R. N. Sherwell told the Jury: "It is very regrettable that a distinguished officer who has won the D.S.C. and bar for his services to his country. should be killed in an accident of this sort. You may think that this accident happened through an unfortunate error of judgment on his part, in landing. It appears that he landed in an unusual way and the examination of the machine, both before and after the accident, appears to show that there was nothing wrong with it."

Lieut.- Cmdr. Rex Turpin, helicopter instructor at the Royal Naval Air Station, Lee-on-Solent, said the deceased, a fully-qualified fixed wing pilot with a very limited experience of helicopters, was attached to his squadron for a course of helicopter training. Cmdr. Head made progress which was above average, and at the time of the accident, he had had 5hrs. and 5mins. of dual flying, and 2hrs. 45 mins. solo.

"OUT OF CONTROL"
Peter Frederick Nicholas, an aircraft handler, stationed at H.M.S. Siskin, told the Coroner that he heard an unusual noise while on runway duty, and when he looked round he saw the helicopter about 80 feet from the ground. It appeared to be out of control, because of the angle at which it was coming down, and it crashed on its nose and front wheels.

Evidence of the air-worthiness of the helicopter was given by Lieut. Frank William Ashwell, air engineer, 705 Squadron, R.N.A.S.. Lee, and Dennis John William Goddard, Senior Commissioned Air Engineer. R.N.. attached to the Accident Investigation Unit. Lieut. Ashwell said the aircraft was inspected at 830 a.m. on the day of the accident, and everything was in order.

Other witnesses were Lieut.-Cmdr. Cyril Henry Gabriel Clarke, one of two officers who got Cmrd. Head out of the helicopter. Petty Officer Garfield Ronald Bailey, who was on duty in the control tower, and Chief Petty Officer Harry Victor Simmonds, airfield circuit controller.

Cmdr. Head who lived at 5, Bramley House, Crescent Road, Alverstoke, leaves a widow and two children."

Sources:

1. Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 13 January 1956 (Report of accident)
2. Hampshire Telegraph - Friday 27 January 1956 (Report of Inquest)
3. http://www.ukserials.com/losses-1956.htm
4. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=16104.0
5. https://www.helis.com/database/cn/148/
6. http://www.joebaugher.com/navy_serials/thirdseries15.html
7. https://www.naval-history.net/xDKCas1956-59.htm .


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
11-Mar-2013 22:32 Dr. John Smith Added
07-May-2013 14:08 Nepa Updated [Operator]
22-Feb-2020 00:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
11-Jun-2020 19:53 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
18-Aug-2020 20:11 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type]

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