de Havilland Dragon Rapide G-AFFF of Scottish Airways crashed on Craigton Hill, Milngavie on the 27th September 1946

de Havilland Dragon Rapide


Frederick Stephens Captain Pilot Killed
Alexander McKinlay Calvert Radio Officer Radio Operator Killed
George Beattie Mr Passenger Killed
James Stewart Crombie Mr Passenger Killed
Alexander Jamieson Corporal, Royal Engineers Passenger Killed
John McKay Mr Passenger Killed
Derek Farquhar Mills Acting Sub-Lieutenant, RNVR Passenger Killed


The aircraft was on a scheduled flight from Port Ellen (Islay) to Renfrew airport operated by Scottish Airways on behalf of British European Airways, having completed the outward flight earlier in the day. It had taken off from Port Ellen at 12:26 and arrived in the Glasgow area at 12:59 when the radio operator contacted Renfrew to state they were flying above cloud at 7,000ft. A series of QDMs were obtained from Renfrew and these showed that the aircraft was approaching the airfield from the North East. It passed over the airfield and turned to the south flying an eliptical course back over Renfrew in a north westerly direction. The final QDMs indicated that the pilot had started a left hand turn, the aircraft must have continued with this turn until it was heading back in a northerly direction as it then headed north at low level, where it was briefly glimpsed flying in low cloud. Shortly after the aircraft flew into rising ground on the southern side of Craigton Hill to the west of Milngavie killing all onboard.
The series of QDMs had been interupeted by the arrival in the area of a second Dragon Rapide which was also requesting navigational assistance after its pilot made a comment about remaining fuel to his radio operator. While the AIB concluded that this had been a factor in the accident, it had not made the crash inevitable.

Map showing the final section of the route flown by Dragon Rapide G-AFFF
This map is redrawn from an original in the appedicies of the accident report for this aircraft.


The crash had not been witnessed, though one person had heard it without knowning it was a crash, but shortly afterwards the cloud which was obscuring Craigton Hill lifted sufficiently for the wreckage to be visible from Tambowie Farm. The farmer, who was in one of the lower fields, saw a white object on the hillside which should not have been there. He asked his son to go to find out what the object was, not knowning it was a crashed aircraft. Before reaching the crash site the farmer’s son realised it was an aircraft and returned back down the hill to tell his father who then asked him to telephone the Police before he went to the site himself. Once at the site he realised that there had been no survivors and went back to the farm to meet the authorities and lead them back to the site. By the time the Police arrived the cloud had closed in again and it took them sometime to relocate the crash site.

Captain Stephens had only been working for Scottish Airways for a short time, having begun flying from Renfrew on the 17th September. Two days before the crash his fiancee had moved up to Paisley from Cambridgeshire, the two were due to marry shortly after the crash.

Sub Lieutenant Mills, who was assigned to HMS Vernon, had been to Islay to make safe an unexploded sea mine and was returning to Greenock where he was stationed as a bomb disposal officer at the R.N. Boom Defence Depot.

Corporal Jamieson was returning from a short period of leave with his family on Islay, they had gone there on holiday from Liverpool.

James Crombie and John McKay were both electricians who was returning home to the Glasgow area after completing contracted work on Islay, Mr Crombie had been on the island for about five weeks, while Mr McKay had gone there on the 10th September.

George Beattie was a Branch Representative for the Prudential Assurance Co. and also been to Islay on business. He had been living in Hillhead and his body was initally identified by the owner of the house he had been staying at, because he did not have any contact details for Mr Beattie’s ex-wife. She discovered the fate of her former husband in the Glasgow Herald on the 28th September and was able to confirm the earlier identication.


Crash site of de Havilland Dragon Rapide G-AFFF on Craigton Hill, Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire
The crash site is now hard to locate, as the only large items which had remained at the site had gone. However, with the aid of photographs taken at the time and since we were able to locate the crash site and a few small fragments of the aircraft.
Crash site of de Havilland Dragon Rapide G-AFFF on Craigton Hill, Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire
This photograph replicates one of the period photographs, the aircraft had come to rest in the foreground.
Wreckage found at the crash site of de Havilland Dragon Rapide G-AFFF on Craigton Hill, Milngavie, East Dunbartonshire
These are some of the small fragments we located at the site.