Winter Hill air disaster

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Winter Hill air disaster
Bristol 170.21 G-AGVC Silver City Ringway 29.05.55.jpg
A Bristol Freighter Mark 21 of Silver City Airways at Manchester Airport
Date27 February 1958
SummaryControlled flight into terrain
SiteWinter Hill, England
53°37′44″N 2°30′47″W / 53.629°N 2.513°W / 53.629; -2.513Coordinates: 53°37′44″N 2°30′47″W / 53.629°N 2.513°W / 53.629; -2.513
Aircraft typeBristol Type 170 Freighter
OperatorSilver City Airways
Flight originRonaldsway Airport
DestinationManchester Airport

The Winter Hill air disaster occurred on 27 February 1958 when the Silver City Airways Bristol 170 Freighter G-AICS, traveling from the Isle of Man to Manchester, England, crashed into Winter Hill (also known as Rivington Moor) several hundred yards away from the Independent Television Authority's Winter Hill transmitting station.[1]

Thirty-five people died and seven were injured.[2] The ICAO report[3] states that the accident occurred at 09.15 in the morning. At this time, the weather was so severe that none of the engineers working in the ITA transmitting station were aware of the crash.[4] Several feet of snow hampered rescue efforts, and a snow cat vehicle had to be diverted from the A6 to cut a path for emergency vehicles though the track had been cleared by people using spades by the time it arrived.


The flight was essentially a charter flight from Ronaldsway Airport in the Isle of Man to Manchester Ringway Airport for a group of mainly Motor Traders to visit the Manchester Exide Battery Factory and Manchester car show.[5]


Memorial Plaque at the crash site

The Silver City Airways Bristol 170 Freighter G-AICS, call sign "Charlie Sierra", was due to fly from Ronaldsway Airport, Ballasalla, on the Isle of Man to an aircraft reporting point at Squire's Gate about 3 miles (4.8 km) from Blackpool. The aircraft was flown by Captain Cairnes at an altitude of 1,500 feet (460 m) due to low cloud and other air traffic in the Manchester area. After gaining clearance from air-traffic control at Manchester Ringway Airport, Captain Cairnes flew "Charlie Sierra" inland to Wigan Beacon, a non-directional beacon in the Manchester Zone, which transmitted a recognition signal of "MYK" in morse code on a frequency of 316 kHz and a range of about 25 miles (40 km).[5] Due to a number of navigation errors in respect to the radio compass bearings and altitude readings, the Silver City Bristol Freighter crashed near the summit of Winter Hill, five miles (8 km) south-east of Chorley, Lancashire at 9:45 am on 27 February 1958.

Passengers and Crew[edit]

Thirty-five of the passengers were killed, the majority connected with the Isle of Man motor trade. The three crew were among the seven that survived with injuries.


The error of the first officer in tuning the radio compass on Oldham Beacon instead of on Wigan Beacon was the probable cause.[citation needed]


  1. ^ Accident description at the Aviation Safety Network
  2. ^ Alan Clark. "Bristol 170 Freighter Mk.21E G-AICS". Crash Sites in the Pennines. Peak District Air Accident Research. Retrieved 2 August 2010.
  3. ^ ICAO Accident Digest, Circular 59-AN/54 (83–92)
  4. ^ Survivors relive Winter Hill crash horror Retrieved on 31st January 2016
  5. ^ a b Steve Poole Rough Landing or Fatal Flight. A history of aircraft accidents on, or over and around the Isle of Man (1999) (1st Edition) Manx Heritage Foundation Amulree Publications ISBN 1-901508-03-X