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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 175157
Last updated: 30 November 2020
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Date:06-NOV-1997
Time:11:55
Type:Silhouette image of generic P28A model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Piper PA-28-161 Cherokee Warrior II
Owner/operator:Technical Flight Services Ltd
Registration: G-FLEN
C/n / msn: 28-8516034
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Category:Accident
Location:English Channel, 1.35 nm SSE of Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth, Dorset -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Private
Departure airport:Bournemouth/Hurn Airport (BOH/EGHH)
Destination airport:
Investigating agency: AAIB
Narrative:
Written off (destroyed) 6 November 1997 when involved in a "suicide by plane" incident, in which the trainee pilot deliberately flew the aircraft into the English Channel, 1.35 nautical miles south of Boscombe Pier, Bournemouth, Dorset. According to the following extract from the official AAIB report into the accident:

"The aircraft was seen to land normally, roll for a short while and then take off again. The CFI, who was standing behind the air traffic controllers, told them to 'leave him to it' believing that the student had forgotten that he should only do one circuit. After several moments, the controller looked for the aircraft in the expected position to the north-west of the airfield and downwind in the circuit, but the aircraft was not visible. The CFI then sighted the aircraft to the south-west of the field.

The supervising controller then took over from the trainee ATC Officer and called the aircraft, instructing the student to call 'downwind left-hand'. Initially there was no reply but the student eventually transmitted 'SEND MY APOLOGIES TO EVERYONE.' Believing that the student was apologising for making a mistake and disrupting the circuit traffic the tower controller used the student pilot's first name instead of the call sign in order to put him more at ease. The tower controller then called the radar controller and advised him of the situation.

The radar controller reported that he had a primary radar contact approximately 3 nautical miles south-south-west of the airfield heading south. He and the tower controller tried to call the aircraft on their respective frequencies but without success. At the same time the radar controller contacted another PA-28 aircraft positioned close to the Sandbanks Visual Reference Point . He asked that pilot to turn eastbound and look for a contact that was about to cross the coast 4 nautical miles south of the airfield. The other PA-28 pilot complied with the request but could not establish visual contact.

Radar contact was lost as the student crossed the coast. The Coastguard was alerted at 11:56 hours and the Distress and Diversion cell at the London Air Traffic Control Centre were alerted at 11:58 hours.

The manager of a cliff top hotel in Bournemouth sighted the aircraft as it flew approximately one nautical mile out to sea at high speed from west to east at an estimated height of between 100 and 200 feet above the surface. With the aid of binoculars he was able to see the aircraft bank 45 degrees to the left, and turn towards the coast. The aircraft then pitched nose down and rolled to present its underside in planform before it hit the sea in a near vertical nose down attitude.

The crew of a small boat also observed the impact and within approximately one minute were on the scene. Except for an oil slick on the surface there was no visible sign of the aircraft or pilot. An air and sea search later located the pilot within wreckage of the aircraft on the sea bed in approximately 15 metres of water.

A briefcase, belonging to the student, was discovered in the flying club several hours after the accident. Documents within the case,signed by him and dated 30 October 1997, revealed that his primary objective for training to be a pilot was so that he could prepare himself to commit suicide in an aircraft crash.

The wreckage of the aircraft was located on the sea bed at position 5041.95' North, 00149.58' West, some 1.35 nautical miles south-south-east of Boscombe Pier at Bournemouth (5 nautical miles to the south of Bournemouth Airport)."

The AAIB report confirms that the aircraft was "destroyed" (although the wreckage of the PA-28, and the pilot within were recovered from the sea bed). As a result, the registration G-FLEN was cancelled by the CAA on 6 February 1998 as "destroyed".

Sources:

1. AAIB: https://www.gov.uk/aaib-reports/piper-pa-28-161-cherokee-warrior-ii-g-flen-6-november-1997
2. CAA: http://www.caa.co.uk/aircraft-registration/
3. http://www.heraldscotland.com/news/12283791.Pilot_planned_his_own_suicide_in_sea/

Accident investigation:
cover
  
Investigating agency: AAIB
Status: Investigation completed
Duration:
Download report: Final report


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
06-Apr-2015 20:50 Dr. John Smith Added
06-Apr-2015 20:51 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
06-Apr-2015 20:57 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator]
21-Jun-2016 14:09 Dr.John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
22-Jun-2016 17:25 Dr.John Smith Updated [Location]

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