Pierre Robin R1180TD Aiglon G-CRAN, crashed on the 14th June 1996 at Staden near Buxton
|Mary Jane Smith||Miss||Passenger||Killed|
Mr Smith was flying two of his daughters and one of their friends around the Buxton area, the occasion was the 11th birthday of his daughter Mary. The aircraft was not owned by Mr Smith, who was a reasonably experienced private pilot with 856 hours, though only 4 were on the Aiglon, but had been hired by him for the day from Tatenhill airfield, 5 miles to the west of Burton on Trent, in Staffordshire. The four had travelled down from Buxton to Tatenhill intending to take the aircraft out at about 09:00 but it was being used by another pilot at the time and they had to wait until 09:30 before they could take off.
After take off Mr Smith flew north-west over the Alton Towers theme park and then towards Matlock before turning to the west and carrying out an orbit around Arbor Low. Once the aircraft left Arbor Low Mr Smith flew towards Buxton, carrying out further orbits around King Sterndale and Cowdale and flying low, thought to be less than 200 feet, over Slade Hill Farm at Staden. The aircraft was then seen to fly along Ashwood dale towards Buxton, shortly after the engine was heard to misfire and lose power. At this point Mr Smith steered the aircraft through a 180o turn to the left bring the aircraft into line with the industrial estate at Staden. At less than 100 feet above one of the service roads on the industrial estate (which Mr Smith was possibly considering force landing on) the engine began to fire normally and the aircraft climbed steeply. Before gaining much height the engine again failed and the aircraft entered a tight left hand spiral diving into the ground on wasteland within the industrial estate between Staden and the A515. The aircraft had hit the ground at about 60o nose down while descending rapidly.
The investigation into the crash was able to suggest the loss of power was possibly due to air leaking into the fuel lift pump on the inlet (negative pressure side) side of the pump. However they were unable to conclusively say that this was the cause of the engine failure. The report concluded that Mr Smith had intended to carry out a forced landing on the service road following the initial loss of power but when power was restored he tried to continue the flight only to lose power again with very little altitude and air speed at his disposal. This caused the aircraft stall almost immediately and spiral into the ground with the loss of four lives.