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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 18741
Last updated: 21 January 2020
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Time:17:10 LT
Type:de Havilland DH.89A Dragon Rapide
Owner/operator:Mannin Airways
Registration: G-AKOF
C/n / msn: 6538
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 8
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:River Mersey, off Garston Channel, Garston, Liverpool -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:International Non Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Dublin, Eire (DUB/EIDW)
Destination airport:Ronaldsway, Isle of Man [IOM/EGNS]
C/no.6538: Taken on charge as X7378 under Contract No B.104592/40 at 9 MU Cosford 5.7.41. (2 x Gipsy Queen III engines #70074/70076) To 55 OTU Usworth 1.8.41. Damaged on take-off Usworth 2.4.42; to DH Witney for repairs 8.4.42; to 18 MU Dumfries 23.7.42. To 271 Squadron, Doncaster 6.8.42. Damaged in forced landing in field Doncaster 3.2.44; to Staverton 6.2.44; to 60 MU 19.2.44. To Staverton 20.5.44 (for 44 Group Communications Flight?). To DH for maintenance 15.9.44. To Old Sarum Station Flight 6.1.45. To Fighter Command Communications Flight, Northolt 18.1.45. To 1 ADF 16.8.45. To 18 MU Dumfries 19.10.45.

Sold 19.12.47 to W.A. Rollason Ltd., Croydon. Registered as G-AKOF (C of R 12093) 4.12.47 to W.A. Rollason Ltd, Croydon. C of A 9954 issued 18.6.48. Cancelled and registered 18.6.48 to Mannin Airways Ltd, Ronaldsway, Isle of Man.

At 4:02 pm on 11.11.1948 Captain John Charles P Higgins and Radio Officer N. Clucas left Dublin, Eire, for Ronaldsway, Isle of Man with 6 passengers. The aircraft arrived over Ronaldsway in thick fog, but made several attempts to land. The pilot was advised that Speke was clear, so he diverted to there. Blackpool (Squires Gate) was closer, but had no landing lights.

Within sight of Liverpool/Speke's runway, the fuel tanks ran dry and both engines stopped. An attempt to glide to the shore resulted in a ditching into the River Mersey into the Garston Channel, off Garston, Liverpool, and the aircraft sinking. Only one passenger survived to reach the shore, 7 lives were lost. According to the official Ministry of Civil Aviation accident report (see link #5):

"The passengers and crew climbed from the cabin and clung on to the aircraft, which sank after approximately 25 minutes. Only one passenger succeeded in reaching the shore. The last signal from the aircraft had been 'I am going to land on the shoreŚno fuel' ; this was received at 1816 hrs, but there was doubt as to which shore was meant, and a 'snap'' bearing taken by Speke passed over more than one shore. The New Brighton lifeboat was launched at 18:35 hr, but a further delay followed as a result of conflicting messages as to the location of the ditching. Inspection of the salvaged aircraft revealed nine unused lifesaving waistcoats, one under each seat"

The pilot was found to be at fault due 'to an error of judgement', although highly experienced with 5,000 flights between Liverpool/Speke and the Isle of Man and 15,000 flying hours. The Rapide sank in 25 minutes; the remains were salvaged to Hooton Park (extant there in December 1951). Registration G-AKOF cancelled 11.11.48 as "crashed". Remains subsequently dumped into rebuild of Manchester Ship Canal in early 1952.

NOTE: Despite contemporary reports in the press, the official Ministry of Civil Aviation accident report (see link #5) confirms that there were EIGHT persons on board (not nine as often reported). There were "two crew members and five passengers" (sic) - seven, plus the one survivor, making a total of eight.


4. Flight Magazine (November 18 1948 page 595):
5. Flight Magazine (August 25 1949 page 228):
6. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT217/2476:
7. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT217/2344:
12. Ottawa Citizen November 11 1948 page 18:,3292833&dq=liverpool+plane+crash&hl=en
12. St. Petersburg Times (St. Petersburg, Florida) November 13, 1948 page 3:,5053455&dq=liverpool+plane+crash&hl=en

Revision history:

17-May-2008 11:10 ASN archive Added
28-Dec-2011 17:11 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
11-Jan-2016 17:04 Dr.John Smith Updated [Total fatalities, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
11-Jan-2016 17:05 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time]
11-Jan-2016 17:05 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
12-Aug-2018 14:40 TB Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Source, Narrative]
21-Feb-2019 13:56 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Total occupants, Location, Source, Narrative]
21-Feb-2019 15:10 Dr. John Smith Updated [Nature, Source, Narrative]
21-Feb-2019 15:11 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
07-Dec-2019 20:00 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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