Website just been updated with new information and links.
APPEAL FOR INFORMATION
VICKERS 610 VIKING 1B G-AIVE CRASH on
IRISH LAW, near LARGS, 21 APRIL 1948
On the evening of Wednesday 21 April 1948 a British European Airways Vickers Viking aircraft flight S200P out of Northolt bound for Renfrew Airport struck Irish Law in the North Ayrshire hills. Miraculously, all 20 passengers and crew on board escaped before the aircraft was consumed by flames. Today, substantial wreckage is still present on the windswept hillside.
For the 60th anniversary of this amazing incident, I am researching the events of that night with the view to writing a substantial, non-profit making piece of work.
HOW CAN YOU HELP?
Some information has already been sourced, however, I am keen to have input from people who had first hand experience of the events that night or thereafter, plus information from passengers relatives. If you can help in any way at all, I would be pleased to hear from you.
All sources of information will be acknowledged in the finished work.
60 Bittern Court
Website just been updated with new information and links.
Thanks - I'll continue to post any updates on here.
Good news then. Spoke to four elderly inhabitants of Largs last month when they were on holiday in Mallorca and asked them about the plane crash, 'Yes, we remember the train crash in town!'
The project is progressing well. We have had some excellent press coverage including the Evening Times, Largs & Millport News, Sunday Post, and a large article is forthcoming in the Scottish Sunday Express on 10 June.
We have been able to speak with a relative of one of the passengers, a friend of another and have a few more leads to follow up.
Hope you can post a link to the article when it is published!
http://www.flightmemory.com/ I have been round the world 11.6 times!
FWIW here are a couple of scans of old black and white photos of sections of the wreckage.
My youthful appearance in the second photo, taken by John Martindale, suggests the photos were taken about 1969 or 1970.
Thanks for the photos!
Just bumping this post up again. Needing information on the captain. We have some details on John Ramsden which may help to trigger some memories...
DoB: 10 July 1919
Qualified as RAF pilot 1940Had Class B pilot's licence endorsed for DH89, DH89A, Dakota, Ju52 and Vikings.
Landed at Renfrew nearly 400 times in two years.
Lived in Newton Mearns, East Renfrewshire.
Flew Rapides from Donibristle, Fife. Flew for the FAA for Communciations Flight.
Does any of this trigger any memories with anyone? If so, no matter how small a fragment, we'd like to hear from you! Many thanks.
We're very sorry to announce that Denis Clifton passed away late last
night (28th September 2007) at the age of 84. Denis – or Cliff as he
liked to be known - was the First Officer on the Viking flight in
1948. He was particularly helpful in aiding the survivors of the
Viking crash. Realising that the elements might take their toll before
search parties could find them, he made the correct decision that they
should make their own way to safety. He then led the third party of
survivors down from the crash site to safety.
We were fortunate enough to contact Cliff four months ago. Over the
past four months we talked with him by telephone on a number of
occasions. It was immediately obvious from the first call what a warm,
friendly, generous and unassuming man Cliff was. He was very positive
about our project and answered so many queries we had about the
accident. Cliff invited us both to meet and stay with him at his home
near London, which we had planned to undertake in November.
Only four nights ago we discussed with Cliff his long, varied and
fruitful aviation career. Stretching over four decades, he flew
assorted aircraft in a range of conditions all around the world. His
career started in 1940 when he joined the RAF at the age of 17. A year
later he learned to fly in Canada, training in sub-zero conditions on
Tiger Moths and then Harvards. Qualifying in May 1943, Cliff then flew
anti-sub patrols in Hudsons from near Halifax in Canada. In 1944 he
was quickly sent out to Burma. After a rapid conversion course, Cliff
did supply and troop droppings duties and glider towing in C-47s.
After being de-mobbed in 1946, his civil career began. Flying for BEA
and later British Airways, he flew a range of aircraft: Vikings,
Ambassadors, Viscounts, Vanguards, Tridents and Tristars. He then
became a Senior Training Captain with BA on Tridents and Tristars, and
later flew long haul flights all around the world on Tristars. In 1978
he left BA to join Gulf Air, where he served as a Senior Training
Captain on Tristars. During this time he was based in Bahrain and
later Hong Kong. After retiring in July 1983, BALPA awarded him a well
deserved BALPA Gold Star.
Other than the Viking accident, Cliff had another very close call in
September 1962. Just after taking off from Turnhouse in a Vanguard,
the aircraft was struck by 120 seagulls. Two engines failed, while the
other two were very close to failure. As Captain, Cliff particularly
distinguished himself by steering the aircraft back to Turnhouse. The
subsequent report read: "A serious and almost certainly fatal accident
was only narrowly averted. This was due to the exemplary manner in
which the emergency was handled by Captain Clifton and his crew: the
Captain displayed the highest possible standard of airmanship." For
his actions on this day, Cliff received a Queens Commendation medal.
Our memories of Denis Clifton will be of a man who achieved a great
deal through his aviation career, and as a man who could keep his
composure under the most intense circumstances. But we will remember
him also as a true gentleman.
Our thoughts are with his wife and family.
James Towill and Dougie Martindale
The first edition of our newsletter, Viking Crash Research News, is now available. Please send a PM with your email address if you would like a PDF copy.
I see from your latest addition to your site the crew list (apart from the ages) is identical in format and detail to the one I produced for XF702 after a fair bit of research, no one source gave all of the details so I know it wasn't looked up easily. I had to use the accident report, newspaper articles and the new armed forces memorial, that helped iron out a couple of errors in the accident report with service numbers.
By the way Iain C. MacLean (the only crewman you don't have an age for) was 20 at the time of his death.
For Sqn Ldr Harry Harvey the accident report records RAF Kinloss Wing AE Ldr though on my site I only put RAF Kinloss Flying Wing.
A little bit late, but...!
As the days draw closer to a new year and the 60th anniversary of the crash of Viking G-AIVE on Irish Law, we thought we’d announce that we will be holding an event at Lochwinnoch RSPB Visitor Centre at 1pm on Sunday 20 April 2008 – the day before the 60th anniversary of the incident. On the day, James and Dougie will be giving an illustrated talk on the project which will also include the first public airing of video footage of Vestal’s steward, the late Con Moroney, talking about his experience of the crash. We also hope to have a couple of surprises on the day!
At this stage in the project, we’re piecing together all the information obtained from a plethora of sources and assembling it into readable, logical format! Looking through the folders of paper copies, correspondence, maps and technical data, and delving into numerous computer files it is really pleasing to have located all this valuable information in a comparatively short period of time. There are still a few little areas to be clarified, but the ‘research phase’ of the project has more or less been concluded – that’s not to say if more information becomes available that we won’t be interested!
Of course, our research would have been far less profitable had it not been for us communicating with a great many people who have helped us with details of their relatives, friends, colleagues and the events of that night nearly 60 years ago. To all of them, a great many thanks. We are also pleased that so many other people have expressed an interest in the project, with over 70 recipients of our Viking Crash Research News publication in locations as far away as Ireland, the US, Canada and Australia. Our press coverage, from local newsletters and papers to national publications proves that there is great interest in what - pardon the cliché - was a ‘miracle escape’.
In other news, Dougie has nearly completed a 1:72nd scale model of Viking G-AIVE. A resin and white metal kit was used as the basis of the model, with extra details added in brass rod. The painting has almost been finished, with only the decals left to apply. These decals were custom designed so that Vestal could be depicted in the livery worn at the time of the crash. The model will be on display at our April event.
Through Lady Hunter, we have made contact with Mrs Brenda Moore, who has kindly provided us with details about her late husband Hobart Moore and his colleague Jimmy Wilson. We had guessed that Mr Moore and Mr Wilson were travelling together on business but she has been able to confirm this. We have also been able to trace some details of the last years of the Captain of the flight, John Ramsden. An appeal for information is due to appear in the March 2008 edition of Icarus, the publication for retired employees of British Airways (and BEA/BOAC) and we hope that this might produce further details of both John Ramsden, and the Radio Officer, Arnold Lloyd. Both of these players in the story have been possibly the most difficult to locate information about.
It just remains for both of us to thank you all for your kindness and interest in our project. We wish you very best wishes for 2008.
Over the past 18 months we have been researching the crash for our book Viking Down!, with an intended publication date in 2009. To commemorate the 60th anniversary of the crash, we are holding an event at the RSPB Nature Reserve Centre at Lochwinnoch at 2pm on Sunday 20th April 2008. This is a free event and all are welcome. To book a place at the event please call the reserve on 01505 842663 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
During the event, we will be holding an illustrated talk detailing many aspects of our project. This talk will cover how and why the crash occurred, and show just how ‘close a call’ it had been for them all. But we will also concentrate upon the human element of the story by discussing the lives of the passengers and crew. We will discuss how they escaped from the burning plane, how they fared on the hillside, and their treks to safety.
The steward’s two sons are both intending to travel from Buckinghamshire to the event. They are kindly allowing us to show some fascinating video footage of their father Con Moroney discussing the crash. Dougie’s father John Martindale will also be delivering a slide show covering some of more interesting wrecks he found in the 70s with the investigation group SWAIG. This will feature a few of the local wrecks, the Hudson on Ben Lui, and the story of how the group were involved in the recovery of a German bomber’s engine from the Moray Firth.
Somehow this got lost here yesterday evening at 2104 hrs...
As I send these words to you, it was 60 years ago - give or take a few minutes - that BEA Vickers Viking G-AIVE impacted on the side of Irish Law near Largs.
And so was to begin a remarkable story of survival which myself and Dougie have been researching for nearly two years.
Yesterday, we presented a talk on our project to a 'capacity crowd' of over 30 people at a village not too far away from the incident area. We were delighted to be joined by two of the sons of the steward on board the flight, Con Moroney. Today, Shaun and Martin visited the crash site; thankfully it would appear the weather was much better than on 21 April 1948!
We would like to continue to thank you for your interest in the project and we'll continue to keep you updated on developments.
James Towill and Dougie Martindale
Yahoo webgroup - http://groups.yahoo.com/group/vikingcrash1948/
November 2008 Progress Update
Firstly, our apologies for the lack of updates recently - this has basically been because we've been busy writing! Viking Down! is progressing nicely, and as we commit the fruits of our research to prose, we are still receiving new information more than two years after the project began.
During the summer, we have received further information on the subsequent career of Captain John Ramsden, however, there are still some pieces of additional information which may yet appear, not least, a photograph of the man in question.
In October, we were delighted to finally meet Enid Clifton, wife of Denis Clifton, co-pilot on Vestal during a weekend in Buckinghamshire and Surrey. We once again met with Shaun and Martin Moroney and with them, visited Brooklands Museum in Weybridge and together, we were welcomed aboard their static display Viking. A very rewarding weekend indeed, and a pleasure to see the Moroneys once again.
We thank you once again for your interest in our project and wish you the very best for the festive season.
A fascinating thread and website, I wish I'd spotted it sooner. I used to live in a high rise tower block in Paisley with a perfect view across west Renfrewshire towards Irish Law, 'The Law' in fact being the only thing impeding my view of Largs bay and the coast. I remember people talking about the crash and as a young aviation enthusiast, rounding up a gang of mates to go cycling in the area hoping to discover the crash site (we never did).
It was particularly fascinating as back in those days (early 80's) there was Vickers Valletta (I think) on the fire dump at Glasgow Airport and as kid's we were told it was the same as the plane that crashed on Irish Law (ok I know it wasn't quite the same thing).
I look forward to your book on the subject, and perhaps one day soon I'll pay a visit to the actual crash site.
Go n-ithe an cat thú, is go n-ithe an diabhal an cat !
In this, the week of the sixty-first anniversary of the crash, we thought it was time to update you on how the project is progressing. Currently, we continue to busily write away with a number of sections nearing completion and some areas being redrafted. Some parts have proved an enjoyable challenge and we're happy with the way in which the writing is developing. We have also been working on some cover concepts, again, with pleasing results.
...and still, we are receiving new information! In the past couple of weeks, we have tracked down the son of Mr (Johannes) Sejersted and are in communication with him. You will remember that the Sejersteds were the Norwegian couple aboard the flight en route to a honeymoon in the US after business in Scotland.
Some photographs from our Brooklands Museum visit last October to see a surviving Viking can be found on Gordon Lyons' site at http://www.aircrashsites-scotland.co...nds_viking.htm and coverage of our project can be found at another page http://www.aircrashsites-scotland.co...rs_viking2.htm .
The Dramatic Night An Airliner Crashed In The Scottish Hills
by James T M Towill and Dougie Martindale
The book is a product of four years research and writing by Dougie and myself. It is a comprehensive account of the crash of an airliner in 1948, providing a detailed analysis of the crash as well as full coverage of the lives of the passengers and crew in the decades beyond.
On the evening of 21 April 1948, a Vickers Viking airliner carrying four crew and sixteen passengers crashes into a windswept Scottish hillside. The blazing aircraft bounces over the hillside before finally coming to rest. Remarkably all twenty occupants manage to scramble clear with only burned hands and other minor injuries. They then watch helplessly as a raging inferno consumes the fuselage of the aircraft.
Yet their ordeal has only just begun. Having braved the fire, they must next survive the elements. Dressed only in frocks and suits, they are forced to shelter from the winds that sweep mercilessly over the hillside. The Captain and one passenger leave the scene to alert the authorities. Several hours later the two men succeed in reaching civilisation. The Captain then leads the first of several search parties that scour the moorlands in search of the crashed airliner. But a complete lack of visibility and terrible conditions underfoot prevents any of the rescue parties from finding the survivors.
By dawn the remaining passengers and crew have spent the entire night huddling together for warmth in a shelter built from the wreckage. Fearing the rescuers will not find them before the elements take their toll, a decision is made by the crew. They must make their own move, trekking out over desolate moorland in a bid to survive.
Viking Down! tells the full story of events on that fateful night. Illustrated with numerous maps, drawings and period photos, the authors reveal how and why the airliner crashed into a Scottish hillside. The fascinating story of how the twenty men and women coped with such dreadful adversity is also covered. These personal, technical and historical elements knit together to form a remarkable tale of human survival.
Since this is a human drama story it is suitable for all readers and not just aviation enthusiasts. The book cover is attached.
Our research project has featured in a number of Scottish newspapers. These can be viewed at Air Crash Sites Scotland:
Photos of the us studying a real Viking at Brooklands Museum in Surrey, England can he found at:
In total there are 144 pages (13 in colour), 55 images, 10 maps and 9 illustrations.
The price is €16.50 & p&p and it can be ordered from AMP Books at:
Alternatively you can order by UK cheque to either Dougie or myself. The price for UK cheque is £16.50 (£14 & £2.50 p&p). Please private message for details.
On Saturday 26th March we are holding a book launch meet-and-greet at the RSPB Lochwinnoch Nature Reserve in Lochwinnoch, Renfrewshire between 1pm and 3pm. If you live locally and are available, we would be happy to see you on the day. And of course, copies of Viking Down! will be available.
We would like to thank everyone for assisting us along the way. Dougie and I could not have completed the book project without the support of our many contributors. We hope you enjoy Viking Down! and finding out more about this remarkable episode in local history.
Congratulations on an epic effort!
http://www.flightmemory.com/ I have been round the world 11.6 times!
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