Fairey Firefly A.S. Mk.5 WB336 of No.719 Naval Air Squadron, Royal Navy, crashed on Beinn Uraraidh on the Isle of Islay while on a training flight from Eglinton on the 25th September 1951
|Donovan James Slater||Pilot IV RAN||Pilot||Killed|
|Edward Joseph Edmonds||Observer IV RAN||Observer||Killed|
Both men, from the Royal Australian Navy, were in training with No.737 Squadron at Prestwick but part of their combined training was detached to No.719 Squadron at Eglinton in Northern Ireland. On the day of the crash the two took off in Firefly WB336 for a “controlled anti-submarine patrol exercise”, they were to take off and receive orders once airborne, they had been briefed with a safety height of 3000ft and were only to fly below that height should they encounter cloud and were ordered to remain below any cloud. The weather was reported as being good that day, being mainly sunny with some scatter cumulus, especially around the Scottish islands. Cloud was reported to be covering the hills on Islay during the morning of the 25th September 1951.
Their initial orders were to take departure from Portrush, near Coleraine, on a bearing of 024o for 30 miles and commence a grid search. These orders were acknowledged at 10:19 and the aircraft took up course for its patrol area (30 miles at 024T from Portrush would have taken the aircraft into the area around the Mull of Oa in the south of Islay).
Further orders were transmitted to the aircraft at around 10:30 and were repeated numerous times until 11:00, none of these transmissions were acknowledged. These were for the aircraft to abandon the grid search and adopt a sonobuoy dropping pattern. At 11:10 the aircraft was declared missing as no contact of any kind had been made since 10:19 and a search by air and sea was started immediately.
A report of wreckage some 10 miles NW of Portrush was received from and RAF Lancaster at about 12:30 but this turned out to be unconnected and the search was switched the the Islay area after 14:15. The wreck was spotted by an FAA Barracuda (one of the last Barracudas still in service at that point) at 15:40 on Beinn Uraraidh, it and later other aircraft circled the spot until a ground team arrived at nightfall (approx 19:20 BST).
The aircraft had broken up over a wide area along a roughly ESE to WNW line with wreckage being spread for about 1/3 of a mile.