Accident English Electric Canberra PR Mk 7 WT505,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 142143
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Friday 20 January 1956
Time:11:50 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic CNBR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
English Electric Canberra PR Mk 7
Owner/operator:58 Sqn RAF
Registration: WT505
MSN: 71352
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Ponsonby Fell, near Gosforth, 5 miles SE of Calder Bridge, Cumberland -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Wyton (QUY/EGUY)
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
EE Canberra PR.Mk.7 WT505, 58 Squadron, RAF: On 20th January 1956 the crew of this 58 Squadron aircraft took off at 10.50hrs from their base at Wyton, near Huntingdon to carrying out a photographic reconnaissance flight to take official photographs of the Windscale and Calder Hall (now Sellafield) atomic plants for a Government department.

The crew and were to make series of low passes of the atomic sites at around 1,000ft. The Canberra was seen by people on the ground to circle the Calder Hall area for some time before it struck the ground which would suggest that the crew had already made a number of these photographic passes. While lining up for a pass of the sites it was thought that the aircraft had been flown slightly too far inland and towards high ground which was covered by cloud. Just before noon and while making a turn a wing struck the ground on Ponsonby Fell, north of Gosforth and the aircraft disintegrated.

Local people who witnessed the aircraft just before it crashed were quoted in local newspapers as believing that the aircraft's engines were failing and that the pilot was attempting to find somewhere to land at the time of the crash. The accident investigation believed that this was not the case and that it simply wasn't flying high enough in the proximity of high ground at Ponsonby Fell, near Gosforth, five miles South East of Calder Bridge, Cumberland. Both crew killed.

William Falconer Wilfred Ninian Gough RAF (Service Number 2548944, aged 23, pilot) RAF - killed
Douglas Cornforth RAF (Service Number 579827, aged 28, navigator) RAF - killed

Note that the official accident report (held at the National Archives at Kew) gives the crash location as being at "near Ambleside, Westmorland,"


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.177 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 95)
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/320:
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/34/S2801:

Revision history:

29-Jan-2012 14:22 Dr. John Smith Added
31-Jan-2012 00:58 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
12-Apr-2013 13:37 Dr. John Smith Updated [Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
24-Aug-2013 14:57 Nepa Updated [Narrative]
17-Jan-2020 01:41 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Nature, Source, Narrative]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314