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Narrative:Westland Whirlwind HAS.7, XK908, 700 Squadron, Fleet Air Arm, Royal Navy (possibly on loan to Alvis Ltd for engine trials). Written off (damaged beyond economic repair) in a mid air collision with Hawker Hunter F.5 WP144 "X" of 34 Squadron, on 10 September 1957
|Type:||Westland Whirlwind HAS.7 (S-55T)|
|Owner/operator:||700 Sqn FAA RN|
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2|
|Aircraft damage:|| Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||East Stratton, 8 miles NE of Winchester, Hampshire -
|Phase:|| En route|
|Departure airport:||Baginton, Coventry, Warwickshire|
|Destination airport:||RNAS Lee-on-Solent, Hampshire|
|Confidence Rating:|| Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources|
The Whirlwind was operating below its authorised height and was spotted by the Hunter pilot at the last moment. He took violent evasive action but the underside of the Hunter struck the helicopter, which crashed at East Stratton, near Winchester, Hampshire, killing both crew. One of the crew was Lt. John Philip Eynon (believed to be the pilot of XK908)
According to a contemporary newspaper report on the Inquest into the deaths of the two crew of Whirlwind XK908 ("Birmingham Daily Post" - Saturday 28 September 1957):
"Thought he was clear of Helicopter
PILOT TELLS OF COLLISION
Questions on the height at which a Hunter Jet fighter and a Whirlwind helicopter collided on September 10 were put to witnesses at the resumed inquest at Winchester, yesterday on the two occupants of the helicopter.
The Coroner, Mr. A. K. Freeman, was enquiring into the death of the helicopter pilot, Lt. John Eynon, R.N., of 700 Squadron, Lee-on-Solent, and his passenger, Mr. Cyril Waine, of Tile Hill, Coventry, a civilian employee of the Alvis engineering company.
Estimates of the height of the aircraft given in evidence varied between 700 ft. and 1,500 ft.
The Hunter pilot, P.O. Brian Stephens, of Tangmere, told the Coroner he was on a training flight to test a temperature stage and carry out aerobatics, but owing to sinus pain he decided to cut out the aerobatics and do low-level map-reading. He was north of Winchester, flying at 3,000 ft. and at about 360 knots. and was in a fairly tight turn to starboard when he saw the helicopter ahead and slightly below him.
"I took immediate avoiding action by trying to climb." he said. "When I thought I was clear my tail struck the other craft. I lost consciousness—l don't know for how long. I came to in a spin which I could not control because the controls had been damaged." He used the ejector seat and parachuted from the plane.
The Coroner: Are there regulations governing the height at which you fly Hunters in this area?—when on sorties you do not fly at less than 2,000 ft.
Mr. P. Walsh (representing relatives of the dead men): On what did you base your estimate of 3.000ft? —On my altimeter.
Recording verdicts of "Accidental death," the Coroner said! "One would think that with all the vast sky to fly in it would be extremely unlikely that two aircraft would collide."
The Hunter pilot blacked out and recovered to find his aircraft in a spin. He ejected just before it exploded. The Whirlwind wreckage was allocated to ground instruction at Arbroath as A2442. In the event, however, it was too badly damaged to be of any use in this role, and was scrapped on 21 Oct 57.
(XK908 first flew on 3 Jun 57, so from first flight to being scrapped gave this air frame a total life span of just 101 days!) The reported crash location of East Stratton is an estate village in the parish of Micheldever at the entrance to the landscaped grounds of Stratton Park, some eight miles northeast of Winchester, Hampshire, England at approximate coordinates 51.1572°N 1.2267°W
1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings – Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.192 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft XA100-XZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 2001 p 53)
3. Western Mail - Wednesday 11 September 1957
4. Coventry Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 11 September 1957
5. Coventry Evening Telegraph - Friday 13 September 1957
6. Birmingham Daily Post - Saturday 28 September 1957
7. Coventry Evening Telegraph - Thursday 28 November 1957
||Dr. John Smith
||Updated [Departure airport, Source, Narrative]|
||Dr. John Smith
||Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]|
||Dr. John Smith