Accident Gloster Meteor NF Mk 14 WS727,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 152789
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:Monday 9 January 1956
Type:Silhouette image of generic METR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Gloster Meteor NF Mk 14
Owner/operator:153 Sqn RAF
Registration: WS727
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:North Folly Wood, Hunton, Coxheath, near Maidstone, Kent, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF West Malling, Maidstone, Kent
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
A fatal accident occurred on 9th January 1956 when Meteor NF.Mk.14, WS727, struck the ground near Maidstone, killing both of the crew on impact. This accident occurred towards the end of a two-aircraft cine photographic mission from West Malling - one Meteor was to pursue the other and make quarter attacks whilst filming. After being airborne for around 20 minutes both jets were observed flying in line astern at about 1000 feet. Without warning, the lead Meteor started a turn to port which developed into a steep climbing turn. The formating aircraft followed - at a height of around 4,000 feet the lead aircraft commenced a roll to port at about 200 knots. The other aircraft followed until almost inverted, and then rolled out into a climbing turn as the pilot considered the manoeuvre too dangerous at their present altitude. The lead aircraft was last seen in a steep dive, and shortly afterwards it struck the ground at North Folly Wood, Hunton, Coxheath, near Maidstone, Kent.

The pilot of WS727 was Flying Officer D. R. Arundell, a 31 year old with an 'Above Average' assessment and over 430 hours on Meteor Mk.12's and 14's. The navigator was Flying Officer F. Webb. The Court of Inquiry blamed the pilot of WS727, noting that Arundell did not like formation flying and often carried out violent evasive action to shake off his number two. He was found guilty of culpable negligence for carrying out an aerobatic manoeuvre below a stipulated height.

Crew of Meteor WS727:
Flying Officer (578647) David Radcliffe ARUNDELL (pilot) RAF - killed
Flying Officer Frank WEBB (navigator) RAF - killed

An extract from the witness statement of the navigator of another Meteor (call sign 'Ballrock 88') that was taking part in the exercise.

"After this last attack ("Ballrock 82" (Meteor WS727)) turned onto 180 degrees and we formated on his starboard. At this time we were about 30 miles North of base. We commenced a gentle let down from 3,000 ft. to 1,000 ft. and passed about a half mile east of base. At this point both the pilot and the navigator gave us a friendly wave which I am certain was not any form of signal. The navigator (Flying Officer Webb) had his mask unfastened and was smiling. Immediately after this "Ballrock 82" started a gentle turn to port which was tightened up considerably into a max rate climbing turn to port. At this stage I would like to inform the Court that although Flying Officer Arundell did not usually indulge in violent aerobatics, occasionally I have known him to throw an aircraft around violently. I'd also like to add that my impression of Arundell was that he was reluctant to having anyone formating on him unless detailed. I thought that "Ballrock 82" was doing this hard climbing turn to port to shake us off and try to lose us, and I was not surprised as I had known him to do this sort of thing before. My pilot followed 82 around in line astern at about 200 yards. for about 360 degrees at which stage his aircraft was in a 70 degree bank turn to port and his nose about 10 degrees above the horizon. "Ballrock 82" then rolled to port, his nose dropped and just before I lost visual contact with him his aircraft was inverted, rolling to port and starting to descend. My pilot followed him round to the inverted stage at which point he remarked to me "This is getting bloody dangerous" and rolled out.."

Station commanders recorded comments on the finding of the court:-
"The finding of the Court in this instance is based, in the main, on the evidence of a single witness and this evidence certainly does not prove to my satisfaction that Flying Officer Arundell was guilty of such negligence. I do not, therefore, accept this finding, and submit that, in my judgement, the root cause of this accident must remain obscure and that there can be no more than a suspicion that it was a loss of control stemming from disobedience of orders...Arundell was accustomed to unusual attitudes in Meteor aircraft of all marks...moreover, provided the configuration of the aircraft permits, aerobatics are performed (in the approved areas) at the discretion of the pilots of aircraft at this Station...I cannot offer any satisfactory explanation for the steep climbing turn described...the cine film in question is being held in safe custody at this station for further examination if required...I am hurt and angered by the heartless and irresponsible nature of the press report...this Court of Inquiry failed to probe this accident with nearly sufficient care to justify a finding of culpable negligence against the pilot concerned."


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 93)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.172
4. Court of Enquiry documentation January 1956
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/34/S2798:

Revision history:

25-Jan-2013 11:42 Dr. John Smith Added
04-Feb-2013 10:20 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator]
03-Mar-2013 12:54 SteveA Updated [Time, Location, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
29-Jan-2014 19:24 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
26-Oct-2017 18:57 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Source]
06-Nov-2018 21:18 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]
07-Feb-2020 20:30 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
08-Jun-2020 19:38 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
18-Jul-2020 21:02 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Narrative]
19-Jul-2020 08:57 T.T.Taylor Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Narrative, Operator]
06-Nov-2022 21:08 Nepa Updated [Time, Narrative, Operator]
11-Jul-2023 22:07 Nepa Updated [[Time, Narrative, Operator]]

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