Lost, but never forgotten

Catching der Geist seiner Zeit (that’s yer proper Georg Hegel, that is — we give full value here at Malcolm Redfellow’s Home Service), the BBC website has a quick potted history of commercial aircraft downed by “enemy action”.

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In addition to the on-going crisis over MH17, the piece cites just five other examples since 1954.

May I suggest a sixth?

Aer Lingus Viscount EI-AOM, St Phelim, which crashed into the sea off the Tuskar Rock, on 24th March 1968. All 61 on board — 57 passengers and four crew — were killed.

The official report concluded:

There is not enough evidence available on which to reach a conclusion of reasonable probability as to the initial cause of this accident. 
The probable cause of the final impact with the sea was impairment of the controllability of the aircraft in the fore and aft (pitching) plane.

For thirty-odd years there was speculation that the missile research base at Aberporth was just too conveniently nearby, and a rogue missile may have been involved — not necessarily as a direct hit, but close enough to upset control of the Viscount.

Oddly enough, as late as 1999 the Aberporth records were recovered, to show (what a surprise!) no test firings that day. We should not speculate on how some British government records may be helpfully unearthed, while others — less convenient — remain missing.

Then in 2007 came this:

A retired British air force flying instructor claims that the 1968 Tuskar Rock Aer Lingus Viscount plane crash was caused by a collision with a French-built military aircraft which was training with the Air Corps.

The aircraft struck each other accidentally while the Fouga Magister trainer was responding to a request to check the Viscount’s undercarriage, RAF Squadron Leader Eric Evers maintains.

All 61 people, including the four crew, on board the Aer Lingus Viscount Cork-London Heathrow flight died in the subsequent crash off Tuskar Rock, but the two pilots in the trainer survived by ejecting and parachuting to safety, he claims. Both the French and Irish authorities colluded in a subsequent cover-up, he says, and the Fouga Magister wreckage may still be on the seabed off Co Wexford.

“Curiouser and curiouser” cried Alice, though here re-enacted by Lorna Siggins of The Irish Times. For, as you may or may not see:

A Defence Forces spokesman described the claims as “spurious” and said there was no evidence that an Air Corps plane was in the vicinity at the time.

The spokesman said that Fouga Magisters did not “come into service” with the Air Corps until 1976. He could not comment on why a Fouga Magister was listed as one of the Air Corps aircraft in service in 1968, as stated in appendix 5.2.g of the 2002 report.

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Filed under air travel., Britain, History, Ireland, Irish Times, Wales

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