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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 18583
Last updated: 7 February 2020
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Date:24-DEC-1975
Time:night
Type:Silhouette image of generic C150 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Cessna F150H (Reims)
Owner/operator:Private
Registration: G-AVTN
C/n / msn: F150-0245
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:in sea off Isle of Mull, Argyll and Bute -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Private
Departure airport:Glenforsa, Isle of Mull (ULL)
Destination airport:
Narrative:
A strange event took place on Christmas Eve 1975 that has become known as the Great Mull Air Mystery. Why on that evening after dinner, with his girlfriend and a bottle of wine, did hotel guest Peter Gibbs decide to take off and do a night circuit in a Cessna C150 G-AVTN? Why did his aircraft vanish and his corpse turn up several months later 400 feet up a hill within a couple of miles of the hotel?

Local writer Scott MacAdam has published a slim volume giving the facts about this extraordinary happening. The event also inspired a surreal novel, These Demented Lands, by Oban author Alan Warner, in which the Glenforsa appears transparently disguised as the Drome Hotel.

Alan Warner has embroidered the Peter Gibbs tragedy to the extent of having two aircraft doing night circuits in opposite directions and colliding.

For years after the tragedy, wild rumours abounded as to Peter Gibbs' motive in performing this apparently insane act. It was speculated that he was an agent of MI5, doing cloak-and-dagger work in Northern Ireland. He succeeded in flying over there, but his cover was broken and the terrorists (or whoever) murdered him, brought the body back, and dumped it on the hill as a grim warning to his superiors.

The body was not discovered till the following April. According to the pathologists' report as quoted in Scott MacAdam's book, its condition was " ... entirely consistent with lying out there for a period of four months." Also, there had been a huge land/air search of the area in the days following the disappearance which also drew a blank.

One wonders how much experience the pathologists had of bodies exposed for such periods. Supposing they had reported that its condition was not consistent with this period of exposure, what would the repercussions have been? Best to give the expected answer and allow the whole tragic affair to be quietly forgotten.

Also, forensic tests detected no salt or marine organisms in the body's clothing and boots. If he had crashed into the sea and swum ashore, some traces would remain in spite of heavy winter rainfall. But then, if he had crashed into the sea and was uninjured to the extent of being able to swim ashore, why would he cross the main road and stumble 400ft up the hill to die of exposure, when all he had to do was to follow the road back to the Hotel?

However, in September 1986, a clam diver working in the Sound of Mull, at a depth of some 100 feet, nearly a mile to the east on a direct approach to the (then) Runway 26, discovered the wreckage of a light aircraft. But, instead of resolving the matter once and for all, the disposition of the aircraft indicated a considerable impact. The wings were found some distance away from the fuselage and both doors were still in the locked position. Escape from the aircraft could only have been through the shattered front perspex with a high likelihood of injury. The only occupant in the cockpit was a large lobster!

Speculation aside, the fact remains that the pilot performed an act of extreme foolhardiness; the motive for the flight will remain, perhaps forever unknown to us.

Registration G-AVTN formally cancelled as "aircraft destroyed" 6.4.76 - around the date that the pilots body was found

Sources:

1. http://www.caa.co.uk/docs/HistoricalMaterial/G-AVTN-2.pdf
2. http://web.archive.org/web/20160116160242/http://www.glenforsaairfield.co.uk/3.html
3. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/scotland/3467055.stm
4. https://forums.flyer.co.uk/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=4578
5. Air Britain: British Civil Aircraft Registers 1919 to 1999 (published 1999)
6. [LINK NOT WORKING ANYMORE:http://coptercrazy.brinkster.net/search/f150show.asp?start=200&count=50]


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-May-2008 11:10 ASN archive Added
27-Sep-2011 08:28 Uli Elch Updated [Aircraft type, Cn, Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Source, Damage, Narrative]
15-Jul-2012 14:52 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
25-Feb-2015 12:25 BritEagler Updated [Narrative]
24-Jul-2015 18:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
24-Jul-2015 18:32 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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