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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 20916
Last updated: 2 July 2020
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Date:24-JAN-1954
Time:13:40
Type:Gloster Meteor F Mk 8
Owner/operator:257 (Burma) Squadron Royal Air Force (257 (Burma) Sqn RAF)
Registration: WH298
C/n / msn: AWA.5059
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Poulders Gardens Estate, near Sandwich, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Training
Departure airport:RAF Wattisham, Suffolk
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Gloster Meteor F.Mk.8 WH298, 257 (Burma) Squadron, RAF: Written off (destroyed) 24 January 1954 when dived into ground during display practice into a field near the Poulders Gardens Estate, near Sandwich, Kent, approximately 10 miles south of RAF Manston. Pilot incapacitation due to anoxia (oxygen starvation) was presumed (but not proven) to be the cause of the pilot losing control of his aircraft.

On 24th January 1954, Gloster Meteor F.Mk.8 WH298 from RAF Wattisham plunged into a field near Sandwich, killing the pilot. The accident happened whilst the aircraft was engaged on a high altitude interception exercise - after being airborne for about thirty minutes, WH298 sighted his 'target' and carried out a dummy attack at 28,000 feet. A further attack was made at 24,000 feet in company with another Meteor. Both aircraft then pulled away in a controlled climb, and WH298 was then lost from the view of the other Meteor. Calls on the R/T failed to make contact.

From witnesses on the ground it would appear that the aircraft dived out of control at high speed into a ploughed field. Upon impact it completely disintegrated, killing the 19 year old pilot at the controls. Examination of the wreckage established that, at the time of the impact, the cockpit hood had been closed, undercarriage retracted and dive brakes and flaps closed. There was no evidence to suggest structural failure of the airframe in the air or engine failure, or fire.

It was noted, however, that on two recent occasions the pilot had failed to turn the oxygen on before taking off and on another his mask tube had come adrift from the seat tube. On another occasion he had scrambled with the oxygen system only half full, although it was considered that the amount there was adequate for the flight time. After the crash, the Board of Inquiry considered that anoxia could have caused the pilot to lose consciousness, or that he may have been incapacitated by inhaling AVTUR fumes or carbon monoxide introduced into the cockpit via the cabin heating/pressurisation system. Unfortunately fragmentation of the body was so severe that in spite of all efforts it wasn't possible to obtain enough blood to make a satisfactory analysis.

The witness statement from Police Constable Wells, who witnessed it;

"At 1.40 pm on Sunday, 24th January, 1954, I was cycling along St. Barts Road, Sandwich, towards Dover Road, when I heard the sound of a 'plane apparently flying at great speed over the direction of Woodnesborough. I turned round and saw a twin engined jet plane diving out of the sky and then crash in a field opposite Poulders Green. I immediately went to the scene of the crash which was approximately 600 yards distant and found fragments of the plane strewn over a large area of the field, and a crater where the plane had crashed. When I first saw the plane it was approximately 300 feet up and diving vertically at great speed. There was no smoke or flames coming from it."

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Dundee Courier" - Monday 25 January 1954):

"Jet explodes: house hit by wreckage.
People living on Poulders Garden housing estate at Sandwich (Kent) escaped injury yesterday when a single-seater Meteor jet aircraft hurtled down, hit the ground and exploded in a sheet of flame, flinging wreckage all over the estate. The pilot was killed. A two-foot hole was torn in the roof of a house where a jagged piece of plane crashed through.

Anne Couchman (12) was in her bedroom when she heard the plane screaming down and then a terrific explosion. "I ran back into the bedroom, threw myself on the bed, buried my head in the pillows, and pulled the bedclothes over me. There was a crash very close to me and things falling," she said. "Then all was quiet. I wanted to get down to mummy quick, but when I opened my door there was a great hole in the landing ceiling, with plaster, tiles and wood all over the place and a large lump of plane."

Pilot of Meteor WH298:
Pilot Officer John Cardinal Goodwin, RAF (pilot, Service Number 4087669, aged 19) - killed on active service 24/1/54. Buried at Margate Cemetery, Margate, Kent

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.141 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 49)
3. Dundee Courier - Monday 25 January 1954
4. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.29
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/198: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C424319
6. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=682.0
7. http://www.ukserials.com/results.php?serial=WH
8. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=6928.0
9. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sandwich,_Kent .


Related books:

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
10-Jun-2008 15:01 JINX Added
24-Jan-2012 13:10 Nepa Updated [Operator, Source]
24-Jan-2012 13:10 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Source]
30-May-2013 13:28 Nepa Updated [Operator, Location]
20-May-2015 07:12 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Nature]
21-May-2015 14:43 Angel dick one Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Departure airport]
09-Jan-2020 17:55 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]
18-Feb-2020 21:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
04-Apr-2020 21:35 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]
04-Apr-2020 21:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Source]

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