English Electric Canberra P.R. Mk.7 WT531 of No.80 Sqn, RAF, flew into Sron Gharbh near Berriedale on the 2nd February 1966
|David Lawrence Girling||Flying Officer||Pilot||Killed|
|Rowland Beresford Smith||Flying Officer||Navigator||Killed|
The crew of WT531 were new to No.80 Squadron, and relatively inexperienced on Canberras. During the final week of January 1966 they were briefed for a training flight from RAF Bruggen in Germany with both high and low level legs with a planned diversion to an air station in Scotland before a low level flight and return to Bruggen. The flight was deferred for a few days and when they finally came to carry out the sortie were given a final briefing and given a weather forecast for the route. The briefing they received contridicted some instructions given during earlier briefings, probably due to this being the first briefing that officer had given. Also the weather forecast was not as accurate as it could have been as the Meteorological Officer did not know the exact boundaries of the low flying area and had to give a more general forecast. This forecast gave conditions as marginal for the pilot’s instrument rating but the Authorising Officer had not made sure that the crew were suitably experienced for the flight before signing it off.
Having done a high level transit from Germany to the North East coast of Scotland the crew descended to low level but were still in cloud when the aircraft struck rising ground at the base of Sron Gharbh to the west of Berriedale gouging a large scar and breaking up over approximately 250m, the wreckage only coming to rest as the slope becomes much steeper.