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Graham Hill's fatal flight


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#1 P.Dron

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 08:59

I noticed this in The Independent's obituary of Lord Snowdon:

 

 

He narrowly missed death himself when racing driver Graham Hill and five team-mates were killed in a plane crash at Elstree. Lord Snowdon would also have been aboard but for a late change of plan.

 

 

Not a lot of people know that. Well, I did not. Since the Piper Aztec was a six-seater, I presume someone would have been 'bumped' from the flight if the original plan had gone ahead...


Edited by P.Dron, 16 January 2017 - 09:20.


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#2 Allen Brown

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 09:13

Something in the deepest recesses of my memory says there was also a designer who was due to be on board.  Anyone remember who that was?



#3 2F-001

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 09:18

Do you mean a race car designer, Allen? (As opposed to a colleague or professional associate of Lord Snowdon.)

And in addition to Andy Smallman? 



#4 DJH

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 09:43

Perhaps Graham was a low time pilot unaccustomed to IFR conditions or didn't have a full IFR panel in the Aztec .

Tragic for sure , but , I believe the conditions in the area were murky IFR .

Australian designer and constructor Tony Alcock  ( Mr. Birrana ) was on board I recall .


Edited by DJH, 18 January 2017 - 08:18.


#5 P.Dron

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 09:46

Perhaps Graham was a low time pilot unaccustomed to IFR conditions or didn't have a full IFR panel in the Aztec .

Tragic for sure , but , I believe the conditions in the area were murky IFR .

Australian designer Tony Alcock was on board I recall .

 

It was the foggiest night I can remember in London, with visibility down to a few yards. And as Jack Brabham remarked, "Graham was a bush pilot... and there isn't much bush around Elstree."



#6 DogEarred

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 10:25

The official accident report gave his status as having a lapsed FAA instrument rating, though he probably flew enough instrument flights to have qualified, had he re-applied.

He also held a current CAA PPL with a night rating but a lapsed IMC rating.

Visibility was reported to be dark &  50-100 metres in fog at the crash site.

The aircraft almost certainly had an IFR panel but the airfield was not fully equipped for such landings.

Although well maintained, his aircraft was not registered in any country, though it still showed the previous US number.



#7 Alan Cox

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 10:33

In 'The Lost Generation', Ian Flux recalled that Alan Howell was scheduled to travel but was replaced by fellow team mechanic, Terry Richards,, who was hoping to get home in order to play in his band at a relative's party.



#8 David Lawson

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 11:09

Damon Hill in his recent book,"Watching the Wheels" mentioned that Snowdon almost joined that flight. He also said that there was the possibility that the airfield runway lights hadn't been turned on although Bette Hill had phoned the person responsible for doing this at the club to make this request.

 

David



#9 Allen Brown

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 12:30

Do you mean a race car designer, Allen? (As opposed to a colleague or professional associate of Lord Snowdon.)

And in addition to Andy Smallman? 

 

It was a very dim memory Tony.  Maybe I'm thinking of Alan Howell.  Somebody in an interview had said they were due to be on that flight, and that's the only person who would fit.



#10 RS2000

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 13:35

If everyone ever mentioned as due to have been on that flight (including Ronnie Peterson) had been, it wouldn't have got off the ground. Now, as for NGH flying Lucky Lucan out of the country....

#11 Sharman

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 14:04

When all is said and done, if the passengers and timing had been different, the outcome would have been different. So speculation is just that.

#12 MCS

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Posted 16 January 2017 - 20:11

Wasn't Ted Wentz another one who was lined up to climb aboard at one point as well?



#13 Mallory Dan

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 09:04

Not heard that Mark. What was his connection with Hill/Embassy, or was he just testing (Lola F2 maybe) at Ricard and fancied a lift back?



#14 BRG

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 19:35

Coincidentally, guitarist Tommy Allsup died the other day at a ripe old age.  He was bumped off a flight in 1959 in favour of singer Ritchie Valens on the toss of a coin.  The plane crashed killing all aboard including Buddy Holly.  http://www.bbc.co.uk...t-arts-38594764



#15 MCS

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 20:01

Not heard that Mark. What was his connection with Hill/Embassy, or was he just testing (Lola F2 maybe) at Ricard and fancied a lift back?

 

Hiya Dan.  Yes, he was testing (I think) the new F2 Lola.

 

I could be dreaming, but didn't he come on here and tell us at one time?  I have tried a search but couldn't find anything. 



#16 RS2000

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Posted 17 January 2017 - 22:34

I don't think it was the toss of a coin that decided who flew with Buddy Holly. The other passenger to give up his seat was the other member of Holly's makeshift backing group for the tour - Waylon Jennings, who thus lived to become one of the greatest stars of country music. (Although Dodge Charger enthusiasts might be less pleased since it allowed him to go on to write the theme song to the destruction of so many examples in the Dukes of Hazard).

#17 layabout

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Posted 08 October 2019 - 17:16

Perhaps Graham was a low time pilot unaccustomed to IFR conditions or didn't have a full IFR panel in the Aztec .

Tragic for sure , but , I believe the conditions in the area were murky IFR .

Australian designer and constructor Tony Alcock  ( Mr. Birrana ) was on board I recall .

I realize this is slightly off topic, but I'm hoping somebody can help me locate Tony's widow, Kathy. A good friend of Kathy's lost contact with her & has asked me to help her reconnect. Kathy & Tony had a son, Justin, who was born in Australia in 1972, if that helps.

Thank you



#18 Doug Nye

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Posted 08 October 2019 - 21:32


The full Air Accident Investigation Branch accident report is downloadable here:

 

https://assets.publi...1976_N6645Y.pdf

 

It is (discreetly) damning...

 

On that foggy November night my wife and I heard the first news reports that a light aircraft had crashed on a golf course in North London on the approach to Elstree Aerodrome.  I knew that the Embassy Hill team had been testing at Ricard. I froze, and immediately said to her, "Oh my - I hope that's not Graham Hill, returning from Ricard...".  

 

DCN


Edited by Doug Nye, 09 October 2019 - 17:46.