Gloster Meteor F. Mk.4 VT239, No.205 Advanced Flying School, RAF, crashed near Chapel-le-Dale on the 19th June 1951

Gloster Meteor F. Mk.4 at the MIdland Air Museum, Coventry

Gerald Leslie Reeve  Pilot Officer Pilot Killed


Crash site of Gloster Meteor VT239 near Chapel-le-Dale
Crash site of Meteor VT239 on the limestone pavement close to Chapel-le-Dale, a shallow grassy crater in the otherwise uniform rock marks where the aircraft struck, its deepest points being roughly the frontal outline of the aircraft

During the summer of 1951 there was unfortunately a high number of losses of Meteors from training units of the RAF, No.205 AFS stationed at RAF Middleton St George would suffer a number of these losses with two occurring within four weeks in the Pennines, both in similar circumstances.

Crash site of Gloster Meteor VT239 near Chapel-le-Dale
Small fragments from Gloster Meteor VT239 at Chapel-le-Dale in the limestone pavement

On the 19th June 20 year old Pilot Officer Gerald Reeve was to carry out a flight from Middle St George climbing to 30,000 feet before descending to carry out aerobatics practice. Just over thirty minutes after taking off, at around 13:00, the aircraft was heard, and seen by some, in the area around Ribblehead and Chapel-le-Dale in the western Yorkshire Dales. Initially described as a whine high up the sound increased causing some residents who only heard the aircraft to believe they were about to be hit after which the sound of a explosion was heard with the aircraft having dived into the ground almost vertically on limestone pavement near to the Old Hill Inn. Some of the eye witnesses said that flames rose rapidly from the crash site while others reported hearing a sound similar to quarry blasting.

The crash completely destroyed the aircraft, killing Pilot Officer Reeve instantly. There was no immediately apparent cause of the crash which was speculated by the RAF to be due a failure in the aircrafts oxygen system leading to P/O Reeve losing consciousness after which the aircraft entered an ever steepening dive from which it never recovered.

Crash site of Gloster Meteor VT239 near Chapel-le-Dale
Little remains at the crash site today, however closer inspection of the limestone pavement soon reveals small pieces of the aircraft.


Crash site of Gloster Meteor VT239 near Chapel-le-Dale
Some of the smaller fragments gathered together
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References: RAF Form 1180, Craven Herald, Lancashire Evening Post, Yorkshire Post, Yorkshire Evening Post, Westmorland Gazette, Manchester Guardian, Armed Force Memorial Roll of Honour, FreeBMD