1949 Manchester BEA Douglas DC-3 accident

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1949 Manchester BEA Douglas DC-3 accident
Douglas C-47A G-AHCY BEA RWY 03.08.49 edited-2.jpg
The British European Airways Douglas Dakota involved in the crash, at Manchester Airport in August 1949.
Date19 August 1949
SummaryPilot error
SiteSaddleworth Moor, Yorkshire, England
Aircraft typeDouglas DC-3
OperatorBritish European Airways
Flight originNutts Corner Airport, Belfast, Northern Ireland
DestinationManchester Airport, England

The 1949 Manchester BEA Douglas DC-3 accident occurred when a twin-engined British European Airways Douglas DC-3 (registration: G-AHCY) crashed on Saddleworth Moor in the Pennines near Oldham, Lancashire, after a flight from Belfast. The accident killed 24 of the passengers and crew on board.[1] The aircraft had first flown in 1944,[1] and was captained by F. W. Pinkerton, a former RAF serviceman who, as a sergeant, had been posted missing during World War II.[2][3] The airline was government-owned.[4]


The aircraft took off from Belfast Nutts Corner Airport at 10:58 on 19 August 1949 on a short-haul flight to Manchester Airport, with twenty-nine passengers and either three or four crew members on board. US newspaper reports, using agency reports filed soon after the incident, favour the former number of crew;[1] Flight Magazine, reporting a little time later, favoured the latter.[3]

An hour after take-off, at 11:59, the last radio contact with the crew occurred and about one minute later the aircraft crashed. It was flying at approximately 1,350 feet (410 m) when it hit a mist-covered hill (53°31.240′N 1°58.733′W / 53.520667°N 1.978883°W / 53.520667; -1.978883) at Wimberry Stones, near to the Chew Valley on Saddleworth Moor near Oldham, 15 miles (24 km) from Manchester Airport. Contact was made approximately 20 feet (6 m) from the summit.[3] The aircraft broke up and caught fire. Twenty-one passengers and all the crew members died, leaving eight survivors.[1][5]

The dead passengers were eleven women, six men and four children, three of whom were aged under two years;[3] the three crew members were all male. All but two of the dead died at the scene.[6] The injured were treated at Oldham Infirmary.[4] The rescue was hampered by bad weather and the remote location of the crash site. Workers from a paper mill approximately 0.75 miles (1.2 km) away formed a human chain to carry the injured from the hillside to lower ground and a doctor at the scene said, "I found bodies scattered all over the place. There were a few survivors lying groaning on the hillside but some of them died before I could attend to them. I have been a doctor since 1914 and served in both wars, but this was the worst sight that I have ever seen."[7] The cause of the accident was an error in navigation, incorrect approach procedure and failure to check the position of the aircraft accurately before the descent from a safe height.[1]

An hour later, a Proctor light aircraft crashed on a test flight in mist at Baildon in Yorkshire, approximately 40 miles (64 km) away. All four of its passengers died.[5][8]

Wreckage of the DC3's undercarriage above Dovestone Reservoir


  1. ^ a b c d e "Accident Description". Aviation Safety Network. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  2. ^ "Roll of Honour - Royal Air Force". Flight. 27 May 1943. p. 567. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  3. ^ a b c d "B.E.A. Dakota crash". Flight. 25 August 1949. p. 227. Retrieved 14 February 2011.
  4. ^ a b Associated Press (20 August 1949). "British plane crash kills 24". Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  5. ^ a b Associated Press (19 August 1949). "British plane crashes, 22 persons killed". The Rock Hill Herald. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  6. ^ Associated Press (20 August 1949). "Plane hits British hill, 21 killed". Schenectady Gazette. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  7. ^ U.P. (19 August 1949). "27 killed in plane crashes". Greensburg Daily Tribune. pp. 1, 12. Retrieved 12 February 2011.
  8. ^ Associated Press (19 August 1949). "26 Britons perish in 2 plane crashes". The Victoria Advocate. Retrieved 12 February 2011.

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