Douglas C-54A 45-543 of the 14th TCS, 61st TCG, USAF, crashed on Stake House Fell near Garstang on the 7th January 1949
|Richard M. Wurgel||1st Lieutenant||Pilot||Killed|
|Lowell A. Wheaton Jr.||1st Lieutenant||Co-pilot||Killed|
|Bernard J. Watkins||Sergeant||Engineer||Killed|
|Norbert H. Theis||Corporal||Radio Operator||Killed|
|William A. Rathgeber||Captain||Passenger||Killed|
|Ronald E. Stone||Private||Passenger||Killed|
The aircraft was being transferred from Rhein-Main Air Force Base near Frankfurt to RAF Burtonwood near Warrington for scheduled maintenance work. It had taken off at 13:12 and was to follow a route via Amsterdam, Horsham St Faith near Norwich and Shawbury in Shropshire with an expected flight time of 2:45. The flight took longer than planned and at not long before 16:30 the crew contacted RAF Shawbury for navigational assistance, which was given. After passing over Shawbury at 16:28 the pilots were instructed to follow a course of 355o for Liverpool and to make radio contact with Speke airport. Attempts to make contact with Speke were however unsuccessful and so contact was made with Burtonwood who liaised with Speke to obtain clearance for the aircraft to descend.
The pilot of 45-543 reported they had descended to 1,700ft and were about 2 minutes south of the airfield. At 16:42 the controller at Burtonwood gave permission for them to make a VFR approach. That was the last communication with the aircraft which at approximately 16:50 flew into the southern side of Stake House Fell in the Forest of Bowland near Garstang at about 1,200ft.
It was found later that the direction finding station at Speke had taken bearings for all of the radio calls made by the aircraft and that the radio call stating they were 2 minutes south of Burtonwood was made from a position between 10 and 15 miles north of there. The apparent reason for this was a BBC radio transmitter further north which was working on a very similar frequency to the radio beacon at Burtonwood was able to cause false reading from the radio compasses fitted to aircraft which would then home on the BBC transmitter instead of the correct beacon.
Following the crash the frequency of the Burtonwood radio beacon was changed to avoid any further conflict.