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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 58359
Last updated: 22 May 2020
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Date:07-JUL-1955
Time:c. 15:25 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic HUNT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hawker Hunter F.Mk 4
Owner/operator:247 Squadron Royal Air Force (247 Sqn RAF)
Registration: WT762
C/n / msn: 41H-670719
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near Basingstoke Canal, Dinorben Avenue, Fleet, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Demo/Airshow/Display
Departure airport:RAF Farnborough, Hampshire [FAB/EGUF]
Destination airport:
Narrative:
Hawker Hunter WT762, from No. 247 Squadron at RAF Odiham, came to grief on the 7th July, 1955. Piloted by Flying Officer Charles George Price, the aircraft had flown, with others, to Farnborough on the previous day prior to taking part in a planned mass take off and flypast to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of the Royal Aircraft Establishment. On the day of the celebration, however, tragedy intervened and Flying Officer Price perished.

The formation started up at 15.12 and three minutes later, after taxying out and lining up on the runway, the leading section commenced to roll with successive sections following at five second intervals. Price, in WT762, was 'Black 2' in the fifth section of three. Alternate sections took off 'high' but Black 2 whose section pulled high was seen to remain low and break away to starboard, his undercarriage remaining down. Black 3, who noticed this, informed his leader. Immediately following this Black 2 called "Gone into manual after take-off." Black Leader replied, "Go over to Odiham and if you can't rejoin I will get one of the spares up." Black 2 acknowledged, "Alright".

Hunter WT762 was seen to climb away slowly to an altitude of about 400 feet under power and with the undercarriage still down. About two miles from the airfield boundary, the aircraft commenced a turn and roll to port - shortly after the commencement of this turn, the canopy was seen to jettison as the Hunter continued to roll and lose height.

Flying Officer Price ejected, but there was insufficient height for the full cycle of his seat to occur before it struck a tree, killing the unlucky man. Aircraft came down at Fleet, Hampshire (between Dinorben Avenue and the Basingstoke canal). According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer" - Friday 08 July 1955):

"PRINCESS SEES JET FIGHTER CRASH
PRINCESS MARGARET saw thick black smoke pouring skywards after a Hawker Hunter, one of Britain's latest supersonic fighters, crashed near Farnborough, Hants, yesterday. The pilot, believed to be Flight Lieutenant Price, of Odiham (Hants) was killed.

The Princess, who had just taken her seat in the Royal enclosure at the Royal Aircraft Establishment flying display, looked towards the mushroom of smoke, then quickly turned her head away.

No announcement was made to the crowd and the display, by some of Britain's oldest as well as her latest jet-age planes went on.

FLEW IN FORMATION
Only seconds before the crash, the Hunter, one of a formation of 17 had flashed across the airfield in perfect formation. Then it plunged to earth, apparently with the port wing down. Two helicopters waiting to take part in the display immediately went to the scene and officials hurried to the crash in cars. They found the wreckage in a wood at Fleet.

Tearing through the trees the plane uprooted some and left deep craters, scattering debris over a mile of rough woodland. The engine, breaking away, fell on some stables, shattering part of the building and setting it ablaze.

HORSE BLOWN FROM BOX
Two horses were injured, one being blown from its box into the stable yard. A piece of engine tore through an empty caravan.

The pilot, in his ejector seat, was alive when found by a search party but was dead on arrival at Fleet Hospital. It was believed that the plane was too low for his parachute to be effective."

The probable cause was loss of aileron control caused by failure of the hydro booster selector

Crew of Hunter WT762
Flying Officer Charles George Price, RAF (pilot, Service Number 4115391, aged 20) - killed on active service 7/7/55

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.172 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 97)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.143
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/284: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C424405
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/34/S2765: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6578545
6. http://www.ukserials.com/results.php?serial=WT
7. http://www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/hancrash.html
8. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=6137.0


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
10-Jan-2009 11:55 ASN archive Added
16-Jun-2010 20:59 P Cooper Updated [Time, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Location]
22-Oct-2011 13:30 Anon. Updated [Source, Narrative]
03-Dec-2011 13:55 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Country, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
15-Aug-2012 08:10 Nepa Updated [Time, Operator, Departure airport]
12-Mar-2015 18:04 TB Updated [Time, Operator, Source, Narrative]
14-Jan-2020 15:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Operator, Location, Nature, Source, Narrative]
14-Jan-2020 15:37 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
14-Jan-2020 19:46 stehlik49 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Operator]
10-Feb-2020 19:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
22-May-2020 20:50 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative]

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