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Oxford Mk 2 - T-1371 ("Windy Lynn") HQ Sqd, 10th Service Group,
US Air Service Command and the following gliders:
Waco CG-4A, 42-73898, 437th TCG
Airspeed Horsa, HG-922, 437th TCG
Airspeed Horsa, LH-972, 437th TCG
8th May 1944
On 8th May 1944 an Airspeed Oxford from HQ Sqd. 10th Service Group, based at station 474 Welford, was visiting Ramsbury on an administrative mission. The details of the accident I am about to describe are by far the most unusual and bizarre of any so far recorded on these pages.
At around 14:00 hours the pilot of Oxford T-1371, 1st Lt. John Echols, taxied the aircraft to the end of runway 260 and readied himself for the short flight to Welford. After receiving the green light for take-off he taxied out to the centre of the runway. He then applied full power and the plane moved forward and steadily increased speed. Just after the tail wheel left the ground the Oxford veered violently to the right. The pilot tried desperately to regain directional control by use of full right throttle and full left rudder but he could not correct the path of the plane. Parked in a line parallel to the runway about 500 feet from its northern edge were a number of Waco CG4A and Airspeed Horsa gliders. The pilot selected full throttle in an attempt to gain flying speed and as he neared the first glider he pulled back on the control column and the aircraft lifted itself about five feet into the air. Unfortunately, due to a lack of flying speed, the aircraft stalled and landed on top of three gliders. Amazingly, apart from a slight injury to the pilot, the crew of four walked away from the wreckage unharmed.
The Oxford was completely destroyed but fortunately there was no fire. In addition, one CG4A glider was completely written off, one Horsa was moderately damaged and another lightly damaged. The exact cause of the accident was never fully established although the pilot claimed mechanical failure of the right brake. However, because the Oxford was moved before the crash investigation began, this claim could not be verified and pilot error due to poor judgement was recorded as the prime cause of the accident.
Pilot - 1st Lt. John W. Echols
Observer - S/Sgt. Conrado G. Montoya
Passenger - Major Harry P. Gibson
Passenger - S/Sgt. Elmer G. Weisa
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© Copyright 2004 Roger Day