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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 21021
Last updated: 17 November 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic CNBR model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
English Electric Canberra B.2
Owner/operator:10 Squadron Royal Air Force (10 Sqn RAF)
Registration: WH669
MSN: 71146
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Whitehurst Farm, Dilhorne, 1.5 miles W of Cheadle, Staffordshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire (SQZ/EGXP)
Destination airport:RAF Scampton, Lincolnshire (SQZ/EGXP)
The crew were carrying out Local Continuation Training from RAF Scampton near Lincoln, this included approach training from high level. The approach training was a mixture of B.A.B.S (Beam Approach Beacon System) and QGH (Controlled Descent Through Cloud) with Meir Aerodrome at Stoke-on-Trent, Staffordshire as the "target airfield"

The pilot carried out one QGH approach from 20,000 feet, climbed to 30,000 feet to carry out a B.A.B.S. approach which he carried out successfully passing over the airfield at 700 feet before climbing away in a West-South-West direction to begin another B.A.B.S. approach from 30,000 feet.

Some 11 minutes later the aircraft crashed at an almost vertical angle near Dilhorne, the aircraft had gone beyond vertical and was slightly inverted at the moment of impact. The time that had elapsed meant that the aircraft would have reached 30,000 feet with up to two minutes left for the aircraft to dive to ground level.

The RAF Court of Inquiry could not give a definitive cause for the accident given the level of destruction of mechanical components they were unable to rule out a mechanical defect in the flying controls but neither were they able to rule out human error due to the fact that all three of the crew perished in the accident.

The crew had attempted to abandon the aircraft, the pilot's canopy was jettisoned and landed nearly a mile from the crash site. The Court of Inquiry suggested that while the pilot had succeeded in jettisoning the canopy, the high airflow (400 to 500 knots) over the cockpit would have meant that the pilot would have unable to operate his ejection seat.

One of the navigators was on a spare seat when the aircraft took off so he could operate the Gee navigation equipment, he would first have to move to his ejection seat before the crew could have abandoned the aircraft. The Court recommended that the Gee equipment be moved so the operator could occupy an ejection seat throughout the flight and that the sequence of escape would be rear crew first followed by the pilot ejecting through the canopy.

All 3 Crew killed:
Pilot: Flying Officer Patrick Esmond Reeve (Pilot, aged 25) killed in service 27/3/1953, Buried in the Ham (St Andrew) Churchyard, Petersham, Surrey.
Navigator/Plotter: Pilot Officer John Golden Woods killed in service 27/3/1953
Navigator/Observer: ilot Officer Vivian Owen killed in service 27/3/1953

Note that the official RAF/Air Ministry Board of Inquiry file at the National Archives (File AVIA 5/32/2624) gives the crash location as "55 miles from Scampton" [sic]. The other file held at the National Archives (File BT233/144) gives the crash location as "Cheadle, Staffs.". The crash location of Dilhorne is an ancient parish and village in Staffordshire, three miles from Cheadle and six miles from Stoke-on-Trent. The village is within the Staffordshire Moorlands area.


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.143 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Last Take-off: A Record of RAF Aircraft Losses 1950 to 1953 Colin Cummings p 355
3. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1985)
4. 10 Sqaudron ORB (Operational Record Book)(Air Ministry Form AM/F.540) for March 1953: National Archives (PRO Kew) file AIR 27/2719/6 at
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/144:
6. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/32/S2624:


Revision history:

12-Jun-2008 20:11 JINX Added
04-Apr-2013 21:10 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Location, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
05-Apr-2013 14:02 Nepa Updated [Operator]
25-Dec-2019 23:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Source, Narrative]
25-Dec-2019 23:06 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location]
27-Dec-2019 12:11 stehlik49 Updated [Operator, Operator]
21-Apr-2021 18:27 Dr. John Smith Updated [Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
28-Aug-2021 16:20 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative, Category]

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