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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 137052
Last updated: 22 November 2020
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Type:Silhouette image of generic VAMP model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
de Havilland DH.100 Vampire FB.Mk 9
Owner/operator:501 (County of Gloucester) Squadron Royal Air Force (501 (County of Gloucester) Sqn RAF)
Registration: WR260
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Leigh Woods, Avon Gorge, 1.5 miles west of Clifton Bridge, Bristol -   United Kingdom
Phase: Manoeuvring (airshow, firefighting, ag.ops.)
Nature:Illegal Flight
Departure airport:RAF Filton, Bristol, Gloucestershire
Destination airport:
The Vampire was taken on an unauthorised flight. The Vampire was flown under Clifton Bridge, and then the pilot (F/O John G. Crossley) attempted a roll during which the plane lost height and crashed on the Bristol side of the Avon Gorge at Leigh Woods.

Whilst the civilian employment of the pilot may have been an engineer it appears he was a qualified RAuxAF pilot. This was the last recorded - and only jet aircraft - flight under that bridge.

Quote from 'To Fly No More' by Colin Cummings: "The Royal Auxiliary Air Force was about to disband. This pilot took off without authority and did not wear a helmet nor did he secure his harness and parachute and he left the pitot cover in place. After about 20 minutes, he flew under the Clifton Suspension Bridge in the Avon Gorge near Bristol. Having passed beneath the bridge he pulled up into a slow roll and entered cloud. He emerged from cloud inverted and rolled out slowly losing height. He then turned to port, leveled the wings and began to lose height more rapidly before striking the side of the gorge".

Quote from Richard Whittle: Sunday afternoon, I was 13 and with friends, playing on Durdham Down near the old water tower when we heard the scream of a jet overhead. Back then jets were rare so we watched it. Vampires were easily distinguished because of their twin booms. It headed for the Avon Gorge and then disappeared. We could still hear it clearly but didn't know where it had gone. The next thing we saw it was high again and coming down vertically. Suddenly there was no jet noise and it vanished again. One of my friends said it must have crashed and we started to run towards the Gorge but we knew it was pointless, it would have taken us 20 minutes to get there and we decided we were probably wrong anyway. We later heard that the plane had crashed and the pilot hadn't ejected because he piloted the plane away from school children on a playing field near Leigh Woods.


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.187 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 90)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.232
4. Wings Over Somerset: Aircraft Crashes since the End of World War II By Peter Forrester

Revision history:

29-Jun-2011 14:11 angels one five Added
31-Jan-2012 01:05 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport, Narrative]
25-Jun-2012 12:58 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
14-Mar-2013 17:56 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
01-Jun-2013 09:13 Nepa Updated [Operator, Departure airport]
28-Jun-2014 02:01 angels one five Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Departure airport, Narrative]
21-May-2015 08:50 Opietz Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport]
30-Dec-2015 10:55 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
20-Apr-2016 08:09 Richard1Whittle Updated [Narrative]
08-Jun-2019 17:18 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
10-Jan-2020 22:07 stehlik49 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
29-Jul-2020 18:15 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]

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