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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 24963
Last updated: 26 October 2020
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Type:Vickers Wellington T Mk X
Owner/operator:2 ANS Royal Air Force (2 ANS RAF)
Registration: NC430
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:RAF Middleton St. George, County Durham -   United Kingdom
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Departure airport:RAF Middleton St. George, Co. Durham
Destination airport:RAF Middleton St. George
During an airshow in RAF Middleton Saint George, the crew was involved in a demonstration mission consisting of para-dropping a low height. On final approach, during the last segment, the airplane nosed down and crashed at runway threshold. The aircraft was destroyed and all six occupants were killed.

Causes: It was determined that the technique adopted by the crew to drop the paratroopers was wrong. After the lateral door was closed, it appears that the air flow along the rudder and the elevator changed due to the presence of the paratroopers. This caused the aircraft to adopt a wrong attitude and the response from the crew was inappropriate.

On August 8. 2017, the "Newcastle Evening Chronicle" newspaper ran the following story, which is connected to the auction of items belonging to two of the crew who perished in the accident (see limk #7):

"Reminders of North East air tragedy which killed six up for auction

Six people, all young crew members died, after the tragedy at Middleton St George in 1949

Thousands of spectators gathered for a North East air display almost 70 years ago to commemorate the Battle of Britain. But during the grand finale, the 7,000 County Durham crowd watched in horror as one of the aircraft plunged to the ground, killing all six crew members.

The forgotten disaster will be recalled on Wednesday when memorabilia relating to two of the crew, Flight Lieutenant Herbert Barrett Tatham and Flight Lieutenant Robert Wilson, will feature in a sale by Tennants auctioneers in Leyburn. North Yorkshire.

Newspaper reports among the items tell how the display was held at RAF Middleton St George in 1949. The wives of Flt Lieut Tatham 27, and Flt Lieut Wilson, 25, were among the crowd. The finale had involved tanks staging a mock attack on the aerodrome’s control tower, while a squadron of Wellington bombers flew in at 200-300 feet to drop dummy parachutists. As one of the aircraft banked, it fell to the ground, crashing 300– 400 feet from spectators.

Opening and adjourning an inquest, deputy coroner F Pacey said: “It is a melancholy fact that what should have been a joyful public recollection of the Battle of Britain ended in this unhappy accident. It was a very great loss of six young lives.”

Another newspaper report is of a court martial of a squadron leader held at the airfield. It was alleged that the method used for fixing the dummy parachutists in the bomber was “unorthodox, with an element of danger.” The hearing was told that the dummies had been secured in the aircraft’s bomb bay by a light cord. The parachute cord had caught in the Wellington’s elevators, preventing them from working properly.

Flt Lieut Tatham had joined the RAF at 16 and had served in Coastal Command during the Second World War, earning the Distinguished Flying Cross. Flt Lieut Wilson has enlisted in the RAF in 1940 and had served for three years in India.

The memorabilia includes portrait photographs, a picture of the funeral cortege, a navigator’s log book, cap badge, a copper flask and binoculars."

Finally, it was reported by one source (see links #10 & #11) that some of the wreckage lingered at Teesside Airport until as recently as 2012: "Single piece of twisted metal. Crashed remains of a resident aircraft from the RAF days. The remains spent a lot of the time in Hanger 2 after recovery, before being returned to its original location. In 2012 the remains were removed to an unknown location."


1. Halley, James (1999). Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents. Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.92. ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Air Britain: RAF Aircraft NA100 - NZ999, published 1992

Revision history:

27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
20-Oct-2011 18:07 angels one five Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Narrative]
03-Jan-2012 05:24 Uli Elch Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
09-Jan-2012 07:15 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location]
19-Nov-2012 12:41 COLINCHAP Updated [Source, Narrative]
29-Apr-2013 11:18 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source]
18-Feb-2016 17:14 Maverick Updated [Aircraft type]
24-Apr-2017 20:44 Dr.John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
11-Aug-2017 20:25 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
04-Dec-2019 18:53 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Source, Narrative]
08-Dec-2019 17:33 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Operator]

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