Accident Bölkow BO 208 C Junior G-ATVB,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 180506
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Date:Thursday 6 January 1972
Time:12:07 UTC
Type:Silhouette image of generic JUNR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Bölkow BO 208 C Junior
Owner/operator:Alan Boyle (Art Dealers) Ltd
Registration: G-ATVB
MSN: 614
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Near Hambledon, 3 miles South of Godalming, Surrey -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Shoreham Airport, West Sussex (EGKA)
Destination airport:Cranfield Airport, Cranfield, Bedfordshire (EGTC)
Investigating agency: AIB
Confidence Rating: Accident investigation report completed and information captured
Bölkow BO 208 C Junior G-ATVB: Written off (destroyed) 6/1/1972 when crashed near Hambledon, 3 miles south of Godalming, Surrey, killing the pilot (the sole person on board). Alan Boyle (Art Dealers) Ltd was the owner of the Shoreham based Bölkow BO 208c Junior G-ATVB, having bought the aeroplane in September 1968. (Official re-regsitered to them on 14 October 1968). But it was Frederick Edward Wright who was to die in it when, in January 1972, he crashed the aeroplane a result of inexperience and bad judgement. What was the connection between the owning company and the pilot, I know not.

Just before noon on 7 January 1972 Wright, flying alone, took off from Shoreham intending to fly to Luton. He passed Dunsfold at 12:05. Two minutes later he contacted Farnborough control and indicated that he anticipated being over their airfield at 12:10. However soon thereafter he disappeared off Farnborough radar. When radio calls to Wright went unanswered, Farnborough control contacted other local airfields to see if he'd landed there. When this elicited negative responses, the emergency services were notified.

Later, reports were received which indicated that the aeroplane had been seen flying at an altitude of only 50 feet and that it was flying in fog or low cloud. Visibility was said to be about 100 metres. One such witness was on high ground overlooking the fog filled valley, near Hambledon, in which the aeroplane was heard to be flying. There were reports of the engine running roughly. All witnesses reported that the engine pitch diminished some twenty seconds before it crashed. One said that the aeroplane appeared out of the fog at an altitude of only 20 or 30 feet with the engine producing little or no sound. Thereafter the aeroplane hit a tree, cut through an overhead power cable and crashed, inverted, into the hillside. Immediately prior to impact it had been flying in a nose up, left wing down attitude. Its left wing hit the tree, which broke the main spar, causing the wing to detach and the aeroplane to hit the ground nose down. Its engine, which was still running, partially detached on impact. There was no fire but Wright was killed on impact.

No mechanical defects to or malfunctions of the aeroplane or its engine were discovered. There was adequate fuel aboard. The cause attributed to the accident was bad judgement, born of inexperience, in descending to so low an altitude in low visibility conditions over high ground (the North Downs). This may have been exacerbated by carburettor icing in the sub-zero low level air temperature, which may not have been resolved by increasing the carburettor heat whilst Wright was occupied trying to fly the aeroplane at low altitude in very limited visibility - although the AAIB report opines that the engine power reduction, heard by the witnesses, may have been elective when Wright realised the predicament in which he was and decided to make what landing he could.

The crash is described, in the AAIB report, as unsurvivable. It also suggests that by the time Wright had descended to so low an altitude, over this terrain and in such visibility conditions, he had sealed his own fate. More precisely, the report opines that:

'By the time he had descended to the height of 50 feet or so at which he was seen to be flying it is doubtful that he could have avoided collision with the ground by climbing through the cloud layer.'

The registration G-ATVB was cancelled by the CAA on 7 April 1972 as aircraft "destroyed"

Accident investigation:
Investigating agency: AIB
Report number: 
Status: Investigation completed
Download report: Final report


1. Birmingham Daily Post - Friday 07 January 1972:
2. AAIB:
3. CAA:
4. G-ATVB in August 1966:

Revision history:

18-Oct-2015 22:57 Dr.John Smith Added
07-Mar-2020 20:09 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
21-Jul-2020 21:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Destination airport, Source]
04-Oct-2020 17:46 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Source, Narrative, Accident report]

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