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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 145659
Last updated: 15 June 2020
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Date:30-APR-1956
Time:day
Type:Westland Whirlwind HAR3 (S-55)
Owner/operator:A&AEE Boscombe Down (Aeroplane & Armament Experimental Establishment Boscombe Down)
Registration: XJ395
C/n / msn: WA/59
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 4
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:New Forest, 2 miles east of Lyndhurst, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Test
Departure airport:Boscombe Down, Wiltshire (EGDM)
Destination airport:Boscombe Down, Wiltshire (EGDM)
Narrative:
Westland Whirlwind HAR.3 XJ395, A&AEE Boscombe Down. First flown 9-7-55 with incorrect serial "XD765" (which had already been allocated to a Canadair CL-13 (F-86E) Sabre Mk.4). Re-serialled 16-1-56 as XJ395 when the error was discovered.

Written off 30-4-56: Purpose of test flight was Ceiling climb at 7,800lb all-up weight until rate of climb dropped below 100 ft/min. Control was lost during a descent from 11,300 ft after the cyclic control moved to port and jammed. The main rotors fractured and the aircraft began to break up at 1,000 ft. The pilot and two other crew abandoned the aircraft by parachute but only the pilot - Flight Lieutenant Michael Beeching - survived. He himself managed to get clear of the plunging helicopter but his parachute didn't fully deploy - fortunately for him, he landed in some trees where he was suspended above the ground by the parachute.

One other crew member remained with the aircraft and was killed when it crashed into the New Forest two miles from Lyndhurst, Hampshire. Fatal Casualties were later named as Mr J.W. Lowman; Mr M. Booth; Miss G.M. Warman, all three were civilian A&AEE Flight Test Officers. The wreckage went to Boscombe Down for investigation

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser" - Saturday 5 May 1956):

"HELICOPTER PILOT LANDS IN TREE.
Wiltshire Woman Killed.
A woman and two men were killed when a Whirlwind helicopter from the Ministry of Supply experimental air station, Boscombe Down, crashed near Lyndhurst on Monday. The pilot bailed out and was rescued unhurt from a tree. The woman and two men, passengers in the helicopter, were found dead with their parachutes near them.

A Ministry of Supply spokesman gave the names of the three dead as Miss G. M. Warman, Mr. J. W. Loman and Mr. M. Booth, all Ministry of Supply technicians. Miss Gwenda Margaret Warman (20), the daughter of Major and Mrs. Cyril Warman, of Lower Manor Farm, Bulford, worked as a scientific assistant at Boscombe Down. Previously she was a bank clerk at Amesbury. Mr. Mike Booth was of Southampton, and Mr. John Loman lived at Boscombe Down.

Flight-Lieutenant Michael Beeching, the pilot of the helicopter, is 28, and lives with his wife at Pitton, near Salisbury. He is the only son of a former Town Clerk of Lymington, Hampshire, Mr F. J. Beeching."

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p. 183 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft XA100-XZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 48)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.192-193
4. La Stampa 1 May 1956, p3
4. Wiltshire Times and Trowbridge Advertiser - Saturday 05 May 1956
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/339: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C424460
6. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/34/S2820: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6578600
7. http://www.ukserials.com/results.php?serial=XJ
8. https://www.thunder-and-lightnings.co.uk/memorial/entry.php?id=245
9. http://www.ukserials.com/losses-1956.htm
10. https://www.helis.com/database/cn/26345/
11. http://www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/hancrash.html
12. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=5948.0


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
15-May-2012 16:07 Dr. John Smith Added
13-Sep-2013 09:28 Dr.John Smith Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
19-Oct-2014 17:28 Erectus Updated [Operator]
29-Nov-2015 10:30 Anon. Updated [Narrative]
22-Jan-2020 23:11 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Source, Narrative]
21-Feb-2020 02:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
15-Jun-2020 22:01 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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