de Havilland Venom F.B. Mk.4 WR557 of No.22 Maintenance Unit, RAF, crashed on Farlam Currick between Alston and Croglin on the 4th March 1957
|William Forster Marshall||Flight Lieutenant||Pilot||Killed|
Flight Lieutenant Marshall had taken off from RAF Silloth in Cumbria for a test flight in WR557. Just over fifteen minutes into the flight Flt Lt Marshall reported that the aircraft’s elevator was jammed and requested let down assistance to return to Silloth. At that time the aircraft was plotted by radio fixes as being a short distance from Durham. In a further radio transmission Flt Lt Marshall stated he was going to descend from 28,000ft to 10,000ft to increase the aircraft’s fuel burn. He was advised that he should maintain a safety altitude of 4,800ft and was given QDMs to return to Silloth. These were acknowledged and after being airborne for only 22 minutes Flt Lt Marshall stated his intention to descend below 10,000 and land back at Silloth. This was the final transmission from the pilot and when no further contact was made and he failed to return to Silloth a search was initiated. Three days later a mountain rescue team found the wreckage of the aircraft spread across a large area of remote moorland in the North Pennines to the west of Alston, only just to the south of the direct track from his last known position to Silloth.
The cause of the crash was not positively determined, examination of the elevator did not reveal any evidence of a fault with it. As the aircraft had struck the ground at a shallow angle, just inside Northumberland, and broken up over a large area, crossing into Cumbria, it was assumed that the pilot had descended below the safety height for the area too soon and struck the top of the ridge. Where the crash occurred was on the last high ridge before the Eden Valley and RAF Silloth.