Jodel DR250 G-AVIV, belonging to Staverton Flying School, crashed on Carnedd Dafydd near Bethesda on the 22nd August 1969
|John Richard West||Mr||Pilot||Killed|
The aircraft had been hired by a member of the flying club at Staverton between Cheltenham & Gloucester to fly to Dublin with a passenger on a business trip. Originally it was intended to clear customs at either Staverton or Bristol and then fly to Cork. However a change of plan lead to the flight becoming clearing customs at Birmingham and then to fly via Hawarden and Holyhead before taking a direct track towards across the Irish Sea to Dublin. As the route was to the north of the highest areas of Wales the plan was to maintain an altitude of 2,500ft and fly under Visual Flight Rules, although Mr West held a valid night and IMC rating allowing flight in restricted visibility.
After flying to Bristol Airport on the morning of the 22nd August Mr West returned to Staverton at 13:16 (GMT). Shortly after this he obtained a weather forecast by telephone from Gloucester covering the later part of the afternoon. At just after 15:10 he again left Staverton for Bristol, arriving 20 minutes later, the aircraft left there at 16:00 for Birmingham. That part of the journey took about 45 minutes. While at Birmingham they took on fuel for the aircraft and carried out the necessary customs clearance. By the time all of this was completed the weather forecast period he had requested earlier in the day had expired, there was no evidence of a revised forecast being obtained.
At 17:52 the aircraft left Birmingham Airport and just under 40 minutes later Mr West contacted the controller at Hawarden that he was passing overhead and obtained regional altimeter pressure settings. At this time he stated that the aircraft was at 3,000ft and was instructed to descend back to 2,500ft to remain clear of controlled airways. After the routine contact with Hawarden he changed frequencies to the Preston region frequency and informed them that he expected to pass Holyhead at 19:05. The next radio transmission was 20 minutes later at 18:49 when he contacted the regional controller at Preston requesting radar assistance after experiencing severe turbulence. The duty controller at Preston replied to Mr West but there was no further contact.
When no reply was received to repeated calls and no radar contact was made with the aircraft Preston alerted the RAF that the aircraft was missing and to be ready to begin a search.
At around midday on the 23rd August the smashed wreckage of the aircraft was discovered by a civilian on the very crest of the ridge a short distance east of the summit of Carnedd Dafydd. Both occupants had been thrown from the aircraft on impact suffering fatal injuries as a result of being ejected through the aircraft’s structure and then impact with the rocky ground on the mountain. Although the aircraft was completely destroyed there was no fire.
The crash site was 8 miles south of the intended track of 277oT, but if the pilot had failed to apply a magnetic correction of 10 degrees and accidentally flown on 267oT would have passed almost directly over Carnedd Dafydd.
On the evening of the crash the mountains of Snowdonia were shrouded by cloud and it would appear that after getting into the area of poor weather west of Hawarden they had climbed into the cloud to about 3,400ft. Once sight of the ground had been lost it would not have been possible to realise that they were flying on the wrong course and so continued west. The severe turbulence which the pilot reported to Preston shortly before crashing would have been in the immediate lee of the Carneddau to the south east of Carnedd Llewelyn with the wind being from North-northwest.