1957 Blackbushe Viking accident

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1957 Blackbushe Viking accident
Vickers Viking 1B G-AIVO Eagle Aws Ringway 07.59 edited-2.jpg
Sister ship to the accident aircraft
Date1 May 1957
SummaryEFTO (engine failure on take-off)
SiteBlackbushe Airport
51°19′08″N 0°52′12″W / 51.319°N 0.870°W / 51.319; -0.870Coordinates: 51°19′08″N 0°52′12″W / 51.319°N 0.870°W / 51.319; -0.870
Aircraft typeVickers VC.1 Viking 1B
OperatorEagle Aviation Limited
Flight originBlackbushe Airport
DestinationRAF Castel Benito / RAF Idris, Libya

The 1957 Blackbushe Viking accident occurred on 1 May 1957 when an Eagle Aviation twin-engined Vickers VC.1 Viking 1B registered G-AJBO named "John Benbow" crashed into trees near Blackbushe Airport, located in Hampshire, England, on approach following a suspected engine failure on take-off. All five crew and 29 of the 30 passengers were killed.[1][2] The aircraft also carried the RAF serial number XF629 allotted to this aircraft for use during trooping flights only.[3]


At 21:14 the Viking took off from Blackbushe Airport on an unscheduled passenger flight to RAF Idris in Libya.[2] The aircraft on charter to the War Office had five crew, 25 soldiers from the Royal Army Ordnance Corps, one soldier's wife, two children and two war department civilians.[2] At 21:16 the pilot reported I have port engine failure, I am making a left-hand circuit to come in again.[1] As the aircraft turned onto the approach to land, while still about 1200 yards (1,116 m) from the runway, the aircraft crashed into a wooded copse at Star Hill.[1][2] Thirty-four of the 35 on board were killed.[1]


The aircraft exploded and burst into flames when it hit the ground about 50 yards (46 m) from the A30 road.[2] Passing lorry drivers were the first to help. Ambulances and six fire tenders from the airport were quickly on the scene.[2] The airport fire tenders were soon joined by others from Surrey, Berkshire, Hampshire and United States Navy personnel temporarily based at Blackbushe.[2]

The 29 bodies were recovered and four survivors were taken to Cambridge Military Hospital in Aldershot.[2] Three of those in hospital subsequently died leaving only one survivor (Ernest Taylor).[4][5]


A coroner's inquest was held at Aldershot on 5 June 1957 which returned a verdict of accidental death on the 34 who died.[6]

A public inquiry was opened in London on 23 July 1957.[7] The inquiry report was published in November 1957 and determined that the loss was caused by an error of skill and judgement by the pilot.[8] The report noted that although Captain Jones had flown over 6,800 hours of which 4,800 had been with the Viking he had not made a single-engined landing for at least two years.[8] Because of the fire it was not possible to determine if the port engine had failed.[8]

Probable cause[edit]

The probable cause was the failure of the captain to maintain a safe altitude and airspeed when approaching to land on one engine after failure (or suspected failure) of the port engine.[1][9][10]


  1. ^ a b c d e Civil Aviation Authority 1974, p. 8/57
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h "31 Die In Air Crash – Service Men And Families – Explosion After Take-Off – Aircraft Bound For Tripoli". News. The Times (53880). London. 2 May 1957. col A, p. 10.
  3. ^ ABC Civil Aircraft Markings log 1955
  4. ^ "Viking Death Toll now 34". News in Brief. The Times (53833). London. 6 May 1957. col F, p. 4.
  5. ^ "Vickers Viking (G-AJBO) crash, Blackbushe, May 1957". KSH History Forum - South-East History Boards. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  6. ^ ""Error of Judgement" in Viking Crash – Engine Failure as a Contributary Cause". News. The Times (53860). London. 6 June 1957. col G, p. 6.
  7. ^ "Viking's Crash On Trooping Flight – Comment On Coroner's Statement". News. The Times (53901). London. 24 July 1957. col B, p. 4.
  8. ^ a b c "Crash Caused By Pilot's Error – Viking Came In Too Low On One Engine". News. The Times (53991). London. 6 November 1957. col E, p. 14.
  9. ^ "Tribute to 1957 Blackbushe air crash victims". BBC News. 19 October 2011.
  10. ^ "Tribute to 1957 air crash victims". BBC News. 19 October 2011.