1957 Aquila Airways Solent crash
The aircraft, an Aquila Airways Short Solent 3 flying boat named the City of Sydney, registered G-AKNU, departed Southampton Water at 22:46 on a flight to Las Palmas and Madeira via Lisbon. At 22:54 the crew radioed to report that the number 4 propeller had been feathered (No. 4 engine feathered. Coming back in a hurry. ). During an attempt to return, the Solent crashed into a disused chalk pit adjacent to heavily forested downland. The crash site is on a steep eastern slope of Shalcombe Down, above the small villages of Chessell and Shalcombe.
At the time of impact the plane was banked 45 degrees to the right, the same side of the aircraft that had lost all engine power according to the accident report. Except for the tail, the aircraft was destroyed. Of the 50 passengers and eight crew on board, 45 were killed and 13 injured. Initially 43 perished, but two more later succumbed to their injuries.
A public inquiry by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch of the Ministry of Transport concluded that the essential cause remains unknown. The accident was caused by the stoppage of the No.3 engine while the No.4 engine was also stopped. What caused the initial failure of the No.4 engine is unknown. The cause of the subsequent number 3 engine stoppage was either an electrical failure in the fuel cutoff actuator circuit or the accidental operation of the cutoff switch.
A 50th anniversary memorial service was held in the village of Brook, Isle of Wight on 18 November 2007 to commemorate the lives lost. In October 2008 a permanent memorial was dedicated at Brook's St Mary's Church, about 1 km (⅔ mi) due south of the crash site.
- Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
- Flight, 8 August 1958, p. 208
- Flight, 22 November 1957, p. 793
- Memorial to island plane crash, BBC, 12 October 2008
- National Archives, Air Ministry and Successors: Civil Aviation Accident Reports
- Flying Boat Disaster, BBC South Today
- Flight, 22 November 1957, p. 793 – early description of the accident
- Flight, 8 August 1958, p. 208 – includes a summary of the published accident report
- Photographs of the crash site taken in 1957, 1995 and 2005
- Newsreel footage taken of the crash wreckage (silent) (1957) from British Pathé (Record No:61947) at YouTube
- Newspaper clippings about the accident at PPRuNe
- "Service to mark 50 years since Isle of Wight Plane Crash" at Christian Today – includes brief eyewitness account
- "An emotional return", (PDF) Frontline – The newspaper of Hampshire Constabulary, November 2006, p. 15.