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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 35
Last updated: 19 October 2021
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Type:Silhouette image of generic DOVE model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
de Havilland Devon C Mk1
Owner/operator:Empire Test Pilots School (ETPS)
Registration: WF984
MSN: 04287
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Tweseldown Racecourse, near Fleet, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RAF Farnborough Airfield, Hampshire (EGLF)
Destination airport:RAE Aberporth, Cardigan
De Havilland DH.104 Devon C.Mk.1 WF984, ETPS (Empire Test Pilots School), RAF: Written off (destroyed) on 24 November 1959 the RAE were asked to undertake a scheduled ferry flight to Aberporth as the usual aircraft was unserviceable. Wing Commander Turner, Chief Flying Instructor, volunteered to make the flight in Devon WF984. The aircraft was already airborne with a student on instrument flying detail; it was recalled to Farnborough and, after landing, the student quite rightly carried out the appropriate 'after landing' checks. Crucially, this included setting the Master Air Valve to the 'OFF' position, which locks the undercarriage down.

The aircraft was given a pre-flight inspection, following which Wing Commander Turner climbed aboard. Ignoring normal procedures he started the engines using the onboard systems rather than waiting for trolley accumulators, and taxied to the Control Tower where a passenger and mail was put aboard. It was noted that Turner carried out all operations in an abnormally hurried manner.

WF984 became airborne at 15:13 hrs - a witness reported that the Devon "tooled off" the runway. At a height of 200 to 300 feet the airfield Control Officer who was watching noticed that the undercarriage hadn't been retracted, and at this point an R/T message was received saying "I am having a bit of trouble getting my gear up". The aircraft then gradually lost height until it disappeared from the Controller's view.

At 15.14 the Devon crashed into trees near Tweseldown Racecourse at Fleet, approximately 1,500 yards beyond the end of Runway 25. WF984 was completely destroyed by the impact and subsequent fire, both occupants losing their lives.

The reasons for the crash were a combination of factors, all of which an experienced pilot could, and should, have coped with or prevented from arising in the first place. The failure to put the Master Air Valve to "ON" was the factor that prevented the undercarriage being raised. While Turner was fiddling around trying to do this in flight, he presumably took his eyes off the view and looked down for too long - this should not have been too much of a problem but, unfortunately, he had neglected to set the friction controls on the throttles, allowing them to creep back and both engines to lose power. Unaware of the aircraft's attitude and rate of descent, the inevitable happened..


1. Halley, James (1999) Broken Wings Post-War Royal Air Force Accidents Tunbridge Wells: Air-Britain (Historians) Ltd. p.201 ISBN 0-85130-290-4.
2. Royal Air Force Aircraft WA100-WZ999 (James J Halley, Air Britain, 1983 p 41)
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT233/424:


Photo of WF984 courtesy

Farnborough (EGLF / FAB)
12 September 1959; (c) Jerry Hughes

Revision history:

13-Jan-2008 19:59 W.Fischdick Added
02-Feb-2008 02:02 JINX Updated
07-Jun-2008 14:34 JINX Updated
13-Mar-2010 10:57 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Source]
03-Jan-2012 05:14 Uli Elch Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Source]
05-Jun-2012 05:42 RAM Updated [Source]
18-Oct-2012 01:54 TB Updated [Source]
06-Jan-2013 15:12 Nepa Updated [Operator]
02-Mar-2014 15:51 TB Updated [Operator]
25-Jan-2020 21:45 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
26-Jan-2020 16:42 stehlik49 Updated [Aircraft type, Operator, Departure airport, Operator]
03-Feb-2020 21:28 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
03-Feb-2020 21:29 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
04-Feb-2020 10:46 stehlik49 Updated [Operator, Operator]
21-Feb-2020 14:27 Iwosh Updated [Operator, Departure airport, Operator]

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