Accident Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee G-ASEK,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 173166
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Date:Saturday 17 September 1966
Time:11:17 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic P28A model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Piper PA-28-180 Cherokee
Owner/operator:J.B. Wimble (Aviation) Ltd
Registration: G-ASEK
MSN: 28-1082
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Esk Hause, near Scafell Pike, Borrowdale, Cumberland -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Millfield, Northumberland
Destination airport:Carlisle Airport, Cumbria (EGCA)
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Piper Cherokee G-ASEK crashed on 17th September 1966 on Esk Hause, near Scafell Pike, while flying down Borrowdale: the aircraft wasn't flying high enough in cloud and struck high ground at the head of the valley. The aircraft took off from Milfield airfield in Northumberland at 09.55 hours and headed towards Carlisle, at around 10.30 hours the aircraft was in the area of Carlisle.

The visibility was poor over the west side of the country and low cloud was present over the Lake District with cloud base at around 2,000 feet, the aircraft was later seen flying down Borrowdale and upon reaching the head of the valley which was almost certainly blanketed in cloud the aircraft simply flew into the head of the valley at 11.17 hours, just clipping the rocky outcrop that is the top of ‘Knotts of Tongue’, ripping a wing off and smashing into a stone strewn plateau from which the outcrop only protrudes a few metres. Only a small variation in flight path would have seen them over the col and fly out into the relatively vast space above Eskdale and safety. As it was, both persons on board (pilot and passenger) were killed on impact.

The accident site was located by marshalls for a fell running race who alerted the authorities. According to a contemporary report ("Flight International" 21 March 1968, page 406):

"The Board of Trade has recently published reports of two accidents which took place in 1966. The first concerned Piper PA-28, G-ASEK, which crashed in the Lake District on September 17, 1966. The two people on board were killed. The aircraft was returning up the Borrowdale Valley to Millfield, Northumberland, from a private flight over the Lake District, when it was seen to enter cloud which covered the mountain tops. It crashed near Scafell Pike, some 2,500 feet a.m.s.l. The Accidents Investigation Branch says that the cause of the accident, "was the result of a comparatively inexperienced pilot flying the aircraft into cloud below a safe altitude when in the vicinity of high ground.'"

The body of the report mentions "over-confidence" and comments that the pilot was evidently confused by the manner in which QDMs (magnetic bearings to a ground station) changed, and he was unsure of his position relative to Carlisle Aerodrome"

Pilot - Mr Gerald D Massey, aged 28, of London. Killed.
Passenger - Mr Lennox Gordon Fraser Aitchison, aged 41, of Coupland Castle, Wooler, Northumberland. Killed.

Gerald Massey was probably born in Hackney, London in 1940. A press report found relating to this accident stated that he was in charge of the aviation department of an insurance brokers at the time of his death.

Lennox Aitchison was born on 27th September 1925, he was a son of Sir Walter de Lancey Aitchison, 2nd Baronet. After attending Rugby School, Rugby, Warwickshire he was educated at Trinity College Oxford where he gained a Bachelor of Arts in 1949. He then completed his Master of Arts at Trinity College Oxford in 1954. He was a teacher when this accident occurred

Registration G-ASEK formally cancelled by the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) on 25 October 1966 as aircraft "destroyed". Although much of the wreckage was removed from the crash site within weeks (to prevent well-intentioned false call outs to the Emergency Services), as recently as 9 April 2011 some wreckage - notably the engine block - were still to be seen at the crash site


1. Aircraft Wrecks: The Walker's Guide : Historic Crash Sites on the Moors and Mountains of the United Kingdom (pp.193-194) By Nick Wotherspoon, Alan Clark, Mark Sheldon
4. Flight International 21 March 1968, page 406:
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) Files AVIA 101/499 to AVIA 101/502 inclusive:
7. Photos of wreckage and crash site:
8. Photos of wreckage and crash site:

Revision history:

21-Jan-2015 17:32 Dr. John Smith Added
21-Jan-2015 17:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
05-Aug-2015 20:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative]
09-Sep-2020 23:43 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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