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Thread: Sergeant David Walter Hunter Hanson, 1956

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    Default The National Archives Reference, "BT 233/329" - Extracts from

    I now have a copy of the accident report into the crash of Brigand RH831 sent from The National Archives (TNA). Their licence conditions allow me free use of the data subject to acknowledgement of source.All items within double inverted commas in this posting are copied verbatim from TNA Reference, “BT 233/329 – C691176”.I have tried to present all salient facts, warts and all.Court of Inquiry.1.“The aircraft was returning after being airborne for 50 minutes from an abortive A.I. sortie. The pilot joined the circuit on the dead side of the airfield for landing and then called the tower to the effect that he had complete engine failure. He then attempted to carry out a belly landing by turning towards the airfield in a steep diving turn, but undershot and struck some trees and the ground with his port wing. The aircraft then broke up, burst into flames and came to rest.“2.“It is the firm conclusion of the Court that the accident was caused by the pilot selecting ‘FUEL ISOLATING COCK – OFF’ instead of ‘SUPERCHARGERS – ‘M’ GEAR’. This would result in the engines cutting simultaneously after a brief interval.The normal procedure is to exercise the superchargers in ‘S’ gear before rejoining the circuit for landing, and this is recommended in Pilots’ Notes. It is considered that the pilot did this and then, reaching back to return the levers to the ‘M’ position, he operated the fuel isolation cocks instead, and turned them ‘OFF’.This is borne out by the fact that the superchargers were in ‘S’ gear after the crash and the actual cocks on the fuel isolating system were closed.”3.“No blame can be attached to anyone but the pilot, who committed an error of airmanship.The superchargers should be exercised at a safe height. The Court considers that this height should be a minimum of 3,000 feet. This would enable the pilot to realise, and correct his error should he operate the wrong controls.Consideration should be given to modifying the fuel isolating cock levers by embodying a suitable catch in the ‘ON’ position to avoid unintentional operation.”4.“6th Witness ……………… I am the Unit Q.F.I. and Fighter Command Instrument Rating Examiner. On 7th March, 1956 I flew with Sergeant Hanson on an Instrument Rating re-test. I was re-testing him since on the previous test his instrument take-off and controlled descent had not been satisfactory. On this occasion the test was satisfactory. During this test an engine failed during the final stages of the Q.G.H. under adverse conditions. On my instructions Sergeant Hanson carried out the feathering drill and I carried on and landed the aircraft. During this incident Sergeant Hanson was calm, but his reactions were somewhat slow. On his conversion to the Balliol and Brigand aircraft he was methodical, but very slow. I consider his flying ability, however, to be of average standard. Question 1On returning to the circuit and selecting “S” gear to exercise the superchargers would it be possible for the pilot to select “Isolating Cocks OFF” instead of returning to “M” gear?Answer 1Yes, it is possible, but under normal circumstances unlikely. I have, however, heard of this occurring before on a pre-take-off check at the marshalling point, but it was not this pilot.”5.“9th Witness Recalled (Senior Engineer Officer of No. 238 O.C.U.)I have carried out a test on another Brigand T5 aircraft, and with the engines running at 2,000 r.p.m., - 2lb/sq.in boost pressure, I moved the tank isolating cocks to the “OFF” position. The starboard engine cut out after 4 seconds and the port engine out after 9 seconds. In each case it was a clean cut with no backfiring.”See writer’s comment at end of posting about delay before engines cut outAir Traffic Control log.6.“11.15 Brigand Notchy 64 called up 117.36 complete power failure belly landing on airfield Mayday Mayday Mayday. Aircraft crash-landed few seconds after on upwind end of RW 26…………………………………..1. ……………………………………………………………………………..6. Informed all aircraft airborne and diverted them to Lyneham. ………9. Actual weather W/V 170/10 vis. 11n.m. present weather with cloud 1/8 at 25,000 ft. (E)………………………………………………………………………………….13.00 All diverted A/C are recalled.”Extracts from Authorisation Book (8th March 1956).7.“Sgt. Hanson F/O Crocker Varney Auld A.I. Ex 18 09.10 to 10.00 .50…………………….Ditto………………………10.25 to 11.15(crash) .50Sgt. McCarthy F/O Busby Simmonds Perkins A.I. Ex 19………………………………………………….. …………………..09.05 to 11.15 2.10”From F/O Busby’s Flying Log Book (8th March 1956).“F/S Hamilton F/O Busby Simmonds Perkins Ex 19 13.35 to 15.20 1.45” Accident Investigation Branch Report S.2810.8.“A possible theory as to the cause of the accident, though it is only theory and cannot be proved, apart from the fact that the isolation cocks were found to be in the closed position, is as follows.The pilot had decided to exercise his super-charger by pushing the levers forward into the S position. He would then wait for a short time until his instruments had settled down when he would normally pull them back into the N position. However, it is suggested that instead of doing this, he pulled both the fuel isolation cocks to the rear which would immediately shut off the fuel.Everyone makes errors but it is almost inconceivable that a very experienced pilot who was solely engaged in flying the aircraft should make this error, especially as the super-charger control levers have square knobs whereas the isolation cocks have a rounded knob. Also the super-charger levers are fitted on a higher plane.”9.“Sergeant D.W.H. Hanson, pilot, fatal, was assessed as “average”, aged 32, held a Green instrument card and was in category A1G1. He had a total of over 124 hours as pilot on the type with a grand total as first pilot of 1,529 hours.”Don Busby’s views after reading TNA’s report papers.On earlier postings I expressed bewilderment about my lack of images of the crash. The broken Brigand was left in-situ for the Court of Inquiry to visit the scene on 9th March 1956. I flew both morning and afternoon on the day of the crash and, in the afternoon the following day: I cannot recall seeing the debris of the crash. I can only think that it was out of view of our taxying route for take-off and landing because of the undulating ground. I cannot now pinpoint the exact crash site; I suspect it was just outside the S.W. corner of the airfield on the other side of Fosse Way. An alternative location is just East of Ditteridge.As can be seen in extracts of the Authorisation Book, we were landing at the same time that RH321 was crashing. I do not recall hearing the radio traffic at the time. Presumably we were on normal Local frequency, with the incident being monitored on a Local Crash frequency. Unlike other crews airborne at the time, we were not diverted to Lyneham. I now assume that de-briefing, lunching and preparing for our afternoon sortie prevented us from becoming involved in what was a harrowing time for our Flight and Squadron Commanders.Although Sergeant Hanson was the author of his own and Ron Crocker’s demises, it is unfortunate that he was unable to bring his 15½ ton ‘glider’ to a successful crash landing: he almost succeeded. I flew with him on a number of occasions and, had he lived, I would willingly have crewed up with him again; as I would with all our Brigand and Balliol pilots.Well done and Good Luck to the two students: Hanson and Crocker would have been pleased that they were able to walk away from the wreckage. I shall be letting GlennB, the initiator of this string, have sight of the Crash Report: he might choose to comment further from a pilot’s perspective. My views are those of an old navigator/nav-rad instructor, albeit, there on the day! Don’s comment to pilot readers. Carry out what you regard as a normal operation, then count off 10 seconds before you have a double engine failure just as you are joining the circuit. What would be your reaction, especially if you had experienced a single engine failure on the previous day? I comment as a navigator who is very sympathetic to the plight in which Sergeant Hanson found himself. Colleague loyalty (not blind loyalty) is paramount.Don Busby.

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    Hello Don,

    Thanks for your hard work, a wealth of information there, we can rule out the turnback theory once and for all.

    GB

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    I'd like to thank Don of his kindness in passing on the Brigand RH831 crash report to me and also of his time and patience in narrowing down the contradicting evidence, we are 99% certain that RH831 came down 500 yards from the threshold of runway 07, obviously this is in private property within an area that has altered somewhat from 1956.
    Last edited by GlennB; 24th November 2015 at 17:17.

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    Default Finalising the story

    Witness Statements.….The following extracts of statements by persons in Air Traffic Control are taken from The National Archives document reference BT 233/329…..Possible reasons for Sergeant Hanson’s decisions are considered.........W1…..“1st Witness…..I was local controller…..”….. (Pilot called Mayday – power failure)…..”I watched the aircraft which was then approximately 800/900 feet approximately 2 miles upwind of runway 26 crossing from right to left flying at roughly right angles to runway 26. As I watched the aircraft it went into a steep turn to port descending rapidly and continued this turn until he went out of sight behind rising ground. Almost immediately there was a sheet of flame from where I last saw the aircraft……”……………W2…..“2nd Witness……I was on duty in Air Traffic Control as Duty Air Traffic Officer…..I saw the local controller indicating an aircraft in the circuit to the O.C. Flying, Wing Commander Thomas. I looked in this direction and saw an aircraft turning left and losing height rapidly. When I saw the aircraft it was about in the right position for an approach on runway 08. I then sounded the crash alarm and continued with the crash drill. After sounding the crash alarm I looked towards where I last saw the aircraft and saw smoke rising……..”W3…..“3rd Witness…..”….. (Wing Commander S R Thomas D.F.C., A.F.C – O.C Flying Wing)…..”…..I saw the aircraft flying at about 1300 feet on a southerly course off the upwind end of 26 runway. The aircraft turned in towards the airfield and I considered that he should make a successful landing. However, the turn steepened up, height was rapidly lost, and although I did not actually see the aircraft strike the ground as it was hidden by the configuration of the airfield, it must have been still turning when it struck the ground. It burst into flames on impact. I consider that, until I lost sight of it, the aircraft was under the control of the pilot although he was unable to make the airfield…..”……………….W4…..“4th Witness…….I was Flying Wing Duty Officer on duty in Air Traffic Control………..I saw the aircraft, a Brigand, at about 1500 feet about half a mile beyond the end of 26 runway – the upwind end. The aircraft was turning to port and losing height very quickly. I watched the aircraft all the way down until I lost sight of it behind the high ground in the middle of the airfield. The aircraft exploded on striking the ground. It was not so much the high ground in the middle of the airfield which was in my line of vision, but the fact that there is a valley just beyond the upwind end of 26 runway…………..”………………………………………………………………………………………………… ……………………………………………………………………… ATC Log - An Inconsistency? …..There appears to be a slight inconsistency in the Air Traffic Control logat 11.15 hrs. which reads as follows.“11.15 Brigand Notchy 64 called up 117.36 complete power failure bellylanding on airfield Mayday Mayday Mayday. Aircraft crash-landed fewseconds after on upwind end of RW 26……………………………”Note.....In the heat of the moment the controller might have mistaken our aircraftlanding on RW 26 as being the aircraft in distress………...In the annals (and I cannot find the reference again), the crash site isgiven as a National Grid Reference which is close to Ditteridge, about1mile south of Colerne Village. …………. The crash was actually in National Grid Reference area “sT 79 70 asshown by a 1999 aerial photograph of the end of RW 07 which GlennBfound. Note the change of runway designation due to continuingeasterly migration of the Magnetic North Pole……….. Now that I have studied the evidence some 60 years later I suggest thatSergeant Hanson made his crash-landing based on one or more of thefollowing three scenarios…………….1. He was turning hard port to reach the airfield but with insufficientheight……….2. He knew that our aircraft was turning on finals or, actually brakinghaving landed on RW 26 and now ahead of him……….3. He would have been avoiding farm buildings at the south-westerncorner of the airfield….. Finally, although Sergeant Hanson’s actions caused the double-enginefailure it should be recognised that he subsequently brought the aircraftdown such that the two Naval students walked away relativelyun-harmed. It is a pity that my colleagues Sergeant Hanson and FlyingOfficer Crocker were not so lucky. I still have good memories of themand wished to put the record straight before my own eventual departure. I have enjoyed working with GlennB on this topic.Don Busby25th November 2015

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    Default Sergeant Hanson's possible thoughts and decisions after double engine failure

    The situation confronting Sergeant Hanson on experiencing double engine failure has been preying on my mind since posting my last entry on this string. Having re-read parts of the Court of Inquiry papers I wish to record my views on how Sergeant Hanson might have interpreted what had befallen him and, what actions he might have taken leading to crash-landing short of the airfield. I write as an ex-navigator, so my views are open to correction by pilots better acquainted with aspects of the event which I raise. In the “Accident Investigation Branch (Civil Aviation) Record of Investigation S.2810” the following points are listed:- “39. Crew compartment ………. Port throttle: ½ open Starboard throttle: Almost full. Undercarriage selector lever: Up ……….”.It would appear from the above that the port engine was the first to lose power. The pilot had probably started to trim the a/c for starboard powered flight and would be considering feathering the port propeller when, lo and behold, his second engine cut-out. This was his second attempt to carry out his briefed duty, having returned with an unserviceable a/c after 50 minutes. On that sortie, either he correctly exercised the engine superchargers or, he did not carry out this function in order to change to a serviceable a/c as soon as possible.After 45 minutes into this second attempt to carry out his brief, he was recalled to base because of unavailability of a target aircraft. He would have been circling at around 2000 feet, 2 miles or so off the upwind end of RW 26, waiting to join up with his target ‘playmate’. After the re-call, the evidence points to him turning towards base, descending to circuit height and exercising the superchargers. Unfortunately, he closed the fuel isolation switches instead of returning the superchargers to normal. On the previous day, whilst being checked by the Unit QFI, Sergeant Hanson had experienced an actual engine failure and had been ordered by the QFI to carry out the feathering drill on the failed engine. Is it possible that differences between engine controls of the Buckmaster on that day and his Brigand this next day had caused confusion when he wrongly isolated the engine fuel supply? We shall never know if Sergeant Hanson realised his mistake. If he did, then perhaps he decided that he was too low to re-establish fuel supply and re-start his engines; in this case it was wise to leave fuel cocks isolated. If the penny did not drop, then he must have thought he was having rotten luck with engine serviceability. Whichever case applies he was left with insufficient height to reach the airfield so he chose an un-wooded and flat area in which to put the a/c down in order to avoid hitting a near-by farm house and crashing across Fosseway. If this was in fact his thought process, it would account for the sharp turn to port and the fast descent reported by those in Air Traffic Control.I rest my case for Sergeant Hanson.Don Busby17th December 2015

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    Default Brigand RH831 Crash – An Ergonomic View

    IntroductionThis study looks at ergonomic aspects of Supercharger (SC) and Fuel Isolating Cock (FIC) controls of both Brigand and Buckmaster aircraft, to consider factors which might have led Sergeant Hanson to unwittingly cut off fuel to his engines instead of returning Superchargers to “Normal” after exercising same.Extracts from the Court of Inquiry’s findings are taken from the National Archives document BT 233/329 – C 691176: they appear in double inverted commas.I am indebted to a number of correspondents who have kindly provided data and advice about Brigand and Buckmaster SC and FIC controls. In particular I am privileged to have been helped by Richard Hladik who attended the crash as a Technical Wing engine fitter whose rostered duty saw him seconded to the fire/crash crew for the week of the incident.Two topics are considered:-1. Comparisons are made between certain aspects of Brigand and Buckmaster SC and FIC functions, namely:- a) nomenclature; b) lever design and positioning; c) operation.2. Sergeant Hanson’s body posture as he operated these controls.1. Brigand and Buckmaster SC and FIC functionsa) nomenclature. It is noted that there is a lack of consistency in Pilot’s Notes (PNs) for the two aircraft. For example, the Brigand controls which were wrongly operated are described as “….two ENGINE ISOLATING COCKS (1) on the left-hand cockpit shelf…..”, whereas on the Buckmaster they are “Two master fuel cock levers (2) mounted on the port side of the cockpit.”Another example is for the functions “CUT-OFF AND START and RUN” which for the Brigand are under a heading “Injector cut-off controls” and for the Buckmaster are headed “”Fuel cut-off controls”.A further inconsistency is in the Court of Inquiry findings at para 3 which states, “The normal procedure is to exercise the superchargers in ‘S’ gear before rejoining the circuit for landing, and this is recommended in Pilots’ Notes.” Pilot’s Notes, para 61 (A.L.2) actually states, “……..every two hours during flight and in any case on entering the circuit prior to landing.” All most confusing and lacking consistency! b) lever design and positioning. There are slight differences between the two aircraft in both aspects, but not enough to cause confusion whilst cruising. SC levers are fitted with square knobs and FIC levers have round knobs in both aircraft. In this discussion the position of a pair of control levers is considered as the angle between a datum line and the fulcrum of the control lever pair, in both horizontal and vertical planes. The datum line is defined as follows.Draw diagonals across the top of the pilot’s seat-well: the intersection is roughly where the bottom of his torso sits on his parachute pack. The datum line runs through the intersection, parallel to the wing span. Both pairs are positioned to the left of the pilot and are astern of and below the datum line as listed here. Angles were assessed visually from an oblique photograph of a derelict Brigand:- SC 10° astern 5° below FIC 25° astern 10° belowReference to these angles is made below in the discussion about the pilot’s body posture.c) operation.Sergeant Hanson’s actions and reactions As he selected SC ‘S’ gear Sergeant Hanson would have noticed a change in engine revs and sound. However, being pre-occupied with positioning his aircraft for entry to the downwind leg of the circuit, he might not have noticed the lack of engine response (before their staggered failure) when he incorrectly turned FIC ‘Off’ instead of returning SC to ‘M’ gear. Sergeant Hanson’s experience of a single engine failure in a Buckmaster the previous day might have come into play, causing him to think, “Oh not again!”, and not realise his error. On the other hand, if he did notice his mistake he probably decided that he had insufficient height to restart his engines, concentrating instead on the inevitable crash landing.For how long should SC be exercised?PNs for Brigand Mark B1and Met. 3, which also apply to Brigands T4 and T5, state that SC gear changing should be once every two hours during flight and in any case on entering the circuit prior to landing. For how long should SC be exercised? No guidance is given on this. Provisional PNs for Brigand 1 require 5 minutes in high gear whilst airborne and call for 30 seconds in this gear in dispersal before shutting down. Buckmaster PNs also call for SC to be exercised in dispersal if this had not been done before landing but do not specify for how long.“Air Publication 129, Flying, Aircraft & Equipment” says that SC desludging exercising on the ground shall be done for 30 seconds as part of the run-down procedure if it was not done in the air.It can only be assumed that the 5 minute requirement in the Provisional PNs was reduced to 30 seconds in the light of experience, otherwise a pilot could not be expected to carry out this function, “on entering the circuit”! Even so, 30 seconds takes up a large proportion of a pilot’s time and attention between joining circuit and landing. Again, all ill-defined and lacking consistency.2. Sergeant Hanson’s body posture in the BrigandRH831 would have been circling about 2 miles north-west of the upwind end of RW26 at around 2000 feet, waiting for his ‘playmate’, when he was recalled because of unavailability of a Balliol target. Sergeant Hanson exercised SC whilst returning to join the circuit. If he was turning port when he attempted to return SC levers to “M” his upper-torso could have been turned, say 15° to his left and he might have been leaning forwards, say 5°.From this part-turned, leaning posture and without taking cognisance of the shape of lever knobs, he might have reached through the remaining angles of 10° (25°-15°) left and 5° (10°-5°) down, thus finding the FIC levers believing them to be those for the SC.Recommendations by the Court of InquiryMinimum height for exercising Superchargers “The superchargers should be exercised at a safe height. The Court considers that this height should be a minimum of 3,000 feet. This would enable the pilot to realise, and correct his error should he operate the wrong controls.”Remark by the Station Commander was:-“There is no danger of cutting engines from the correct operation of the ‘m’ Gear levers. Current practice is that this gear is exercised on joining the circuit, in addition to the other requirements laid down in pilots notes. Circuit height for this airfield is 1600 feet indicated. Although it might be considered desirable to lay down such a safety height, on balance I do not consider that any change in current practice is necessary.”Was this a case of deflection of perceived criticism of the way his Station was being run? This recommendation would involve no cost and could be adopted immediately by the issue of a safety order. The Court was suggesting 3,000 feet above ground: the Station Commander was leaving this action to take place at only 1,000 feet above ground!What quirk of logic says that because there is only a small probability of incorrect operation of controls, there is no need to introduce a simple remedy to alleviate its effect, even though its advent caused a crash in which two aircrew died? Several witnesses in the Air Traffic Control Room variously put the aircraft between a half and two miles west of the upwind end of runway 26, at a height between 800 and 1500 feet. Sergeant Hanson had put SC to ‘S’ gear prior to these observations, presumably with a view to directly joining the downwind leg of the circuit. He would have been at 1500 feet or higher when he wrongly switched FIC off, still with insufficient height to recover the situation. This further reinforces the recommendation of the Court that circuit height is much too low for exercising SC. Further, evidence came to light at the Court of Inquiry that FIC had been inadvertently turned off on another occasion, albeit on the ground, see below for evidence of the 6th Witness. Action by the Wing Commander Flying:-When Flying Officer Peter Botterill, the Flying Wing Adjutant was on leave, my duty was to stand in for him in this capacity. It was on one such occasion that Wing Commander Flying instructed me to draft an order for inclusion in the Flying Wing Order Book to embrace the Court’s recommendation. In retrospect, after these 60 years, I now realise that this is the reason I could quote the cause of the crash prior to purchasing the National Archive report.Modifying Fuel Isolating Cock Levers“Consideration should be given to modifying the fuel isolating cock levers by embodying a suitable catch in the ‘ON’ position to avoid unintentional operation.”Remark by the Station Commander was:-“The ‘m’ Gear operating levers have rectangular heads, whereas the ‘cut out’ and ‘isolating fuel’ levers have round ones. Thus, fuel, is to a certain extent a safeguard in using the correct levers. However, although considerable usage over thousands of hours flying has not resulted in any reported previous misuse, I consider that this recommendation should be supported as an additional safeguard. There is no need to move these levers during normal flight, and the catch could be so designed to allow movement in the cleaning up process after feathering an engine.” There was in fact a similar misuse of these controls, but with the aircraft on the ground, stated to the Court by the 6th Witness, thus:-“Answer 1Yes, it is possible, but under normal circumstances unlikely. I have, however, heard of this occurring before on a pre-take-off check at the marshalling point, but it was not this pilot.”Was this reported and investigated? If this had been followed through the crash of RH831 might not have happened. Who knows how many such events might have occurred in the air, not being reported but just related around the crew-room! I am reminded by my Technical Wing contact of the story that the navigator ‘stood guard’ with his ruler whenever the pilot’s hand was hovering over control levers in the area of those for the SC, giving a sharp rap if he saw a hand too close to the wrong levers! It is not known if the recommended modification to FIC levers was carried out. It is believed that a trial installation was carried out by ASF, but it is possible that changes were not carried through, as planned obsolescence was presumably on the cards for the Brigand fleet. Whatever the case, modification would not have been an over-night task, thus calling for the safe-guard of an immediate instruction setting 3000 feet as the minimum height for SC exercising.Blame for the crashThe Court of Inquiry concluded that the accident was caused by the pilot closing fuel isolating cocks off and that no blame could be attached to anyone but the pilot. The writer considers that although the cause of engine failure was due to Sergeant Hanson turning off the Fuel Isolating Cocks, the cause of the crash can be attributed to Pilot’s Notes calling for exercise of Superchargers on entering the circuit and, to lack of leadership which allowed this to continue as received practice at such a low height. This became more entrenched with the Station Commander’s dismissal of a perfectly reasonable recommendation by the Court for Supercharger exercising to be at not less than 3,000 feet.It should be noted that, subsequent to his unfortunate error, Sergeant Hanson steered his aircraft from its position over a hilly, wooded and populated area to one of the few available spots for a crash landing, thereby saving the lives of two of his crew. But for the presence of tall trees and lack of about 50 feet extra altitude, all might have survived with the bonus of a salvable Brigand.Sergeant Hanson and Flying Officer Crocker were let down by the system and their commanders. The reader is left to draw his own conclusions. Would I have written this in 1956; probably not!Don Busby 1st February 2016

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    Hi Don,

    If its of any interest I have a copy of the flying logbook of Lt. N. R. Auld who survived the crash and in which he briefly describes what happened.

    If you wish to pm me your e mail address I will happily forward you the relevant pages.

    Cheers,

    Russ

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    Default Contact Link

    Dear Russ, Please see my 19th October 2015 posting to GlennB for my email address.I would be very interested in what you are offering to send.I was wondering if anyone was reading my long ramblings about the incident!I would be interested in your own interest in the event. Also, how did you come by LT. Auld's log book?Would it be worth you posting some details on this string, for others to share?

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    Default Brigand Pilots

    I would like to hear from any Brigand pilots of the navigator/radar training OCUs at RAF Colerne, North Luffenham or Leeming in the mid-1950s.The purpose of this search is to discuss aspects of this Forum string from the pilot's perspective.Email me on [ donbuzz@hotmail.co.uk } if you wish to help. Thank you.

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    Colerne
    I was a student nav/rad 60 years ago. My instructor was Sgt Reeves, NRL was Bill Dibden Wing Co Thomas was CO Ilots inc Miasga & Kepka. I remember this crash
    Who was in the flypast at closure?
    158Duxford

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