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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 58309
Last updated: 18 July 2020
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Date:02-SEP-1956
Time:day
Type:Silhouette image of generic HUNT model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Hawker Hunter F Mk 5
Owner/operator:41 Squadron Royal Air Force (41 Sqn RAF)
Registration: WP134
C/n / msn: S4/U/3013
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Park Place, Epping, 2½ miles South West of North Weald, Essex -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Biggin Hill, Bromley, Kent
Destination airport:RAF North Weald, Essex
Narrative:
Hawker Hunter F.Mk.5 WP134: Delivered to the RAF at 5 MU Kemble 23/5/55. Issued to 41 Squadron, RAF as "R": Written off (destroyed) 2/9/56 - Failed to recover from a spin in cloud and crashed at Park Place, Epping, 2½ miles South West of North Weald, Essex. Pilot - Flying Officer Anthony Grey Murray "Tony" Preston (Service Number 4183073) - was unable to regain control, so he ejected, and parachuted safely to earth at Theydon Bois, Essex, some three miles away from where his aircraft came down.

A couple of contemporary newspaper reports provide additional details:

"Western Mail" - Monday 3 September 1956

"CRASHING PLANE MISSES CHILDREN.
CHILDREN fled as a pilotless Hunter jet roared down near Epping (Essex), yesterday and plunged into the ground, missing a farmhouse by 20 yards. It made a crater 50 yards from the main Epping road.

The pilot, Flying-officer Anthony Preston, had ejected and parachuted at Theydon Bois, three miles away, landing safely in a beech tree. The aeroplane crashed in the grounds of Park-place, Epping. No-one was hurt, although pieces of the aircraft flew over a wide area.

A tree root, after striking a roof, crashed on the lawn of a house 150 ft away, landing on a spot where a two-year-old boy had been standing.

BOY'S ESCAPE
The child, Mark Ferns, son of the licensee of the Blue Boar, Abridge, on a visit to his grandparents had gone into the house just before the crash. His mother, Mrs. Pat Ferns, said "I bought Mark up and dashed into the cupboard. Children in the street were screaming. It was dreadful. Flaming debris was showering all over the place."

"Daily Herald" - Monday 3 September 1956
MOTHER SAVES SON IN NO-PILOT CRASH.
A PILOTLESS Hunter jet buried itself in the front garden of a quiet farmhouse yesterday, raining debris on homes.

Mrs. Pat Pern heard the plane screaming down on Hemnel-street, Epping. Her two-year-old son Mark, playing outside, heard it, too. He was too frightened to run to safety. Mrs. Fern ran out, dragged Mark inside and flung him into cupboard. As she ran, A jagged tree-root, torn up from the plane's crater, stabbed into the lawn where Mark had stood.

The plane hit the roof of the farmhouse, Theydon Place. Miss P. Kelly, the owner was unhurt. Crowds at gymkhana in Theydon Bois nearby saw the pilot, Flying Officer Anthony Preston, flung out by his ejector seat after turning his machine away from them.

He parachuted into Epping Forest and was picked out of a tree by police—unhurt. He telephoned for a guard for the wreckage of his Hunter, which littered a large area in pieces less than two feet long."

Sources:

1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.182 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 65)
3. Category Five; A Catalogue of RAF Aircraft Losses 1954 to 2009 by Colin Cummings p.210
4. Western Mail - Monday 3 September 1956
5. Daily Herald - Monday 3 September 1956
6. Northern Whig - Monday 3 September 1956
7. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/354: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C4243475
8. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/35/S2835: https://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6578615
9. http://www.ukserials.com/losses-1956.htm
10. http://web.archive.org/web/20170723045955/http://www.ejection-history.org.uk:80/PROJECT/YEAR_Pages/1956.htm
11. http://www.planetrace.co.uk/1950-1959_26.html
12. http://nwamuseum.co.uk/IncidentsWestEssexto2000-1.pdf


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
10-Jan-2009 11:55 ASN archive Added
05-Dec-2011 16:56 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Country, Phase, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
15-Aug-2012 08:42 Nepa Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Location]
16-Jan-2020 23:37 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Aircraft type, Cn, Location, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
09-Jul-2020 18:03 Dr. John Smith Updated [Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
18-Jul-2020 22:11 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Narrative]

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