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Wednesday, May 6, 2009

EVENTS for 6th May

On 6th May 1959 de Havilland DH.104 Dove G-ALEC of LEC Refrigeration crashed near Maindy Stadium Cardiff during a flypast, killing all four on board.

From "Flight" 17 June 1960

THE LEC DOVE ACCIDENT

The conclusion reached by J. W. Duggan, Deputy Chief Inspector of Accidents, in his report to the Minister of Aviation, is that the accident to Dove G-ALEC near Cardiff on May 6, 1959, resulted from loss of control by an inexperienced pilot during an attempt to restart an engine following asymmetric flight at very low altitude.
Arrangements had been made by LEC Refrigeration Ltd for the aircraft to fly over the Cardiff Trade Exhibition and to "dip in salute" at the time of the opening. The pilot was required to comply with the sections of the Air Navigation Order which state that an aircraft shall not fly over a city below a height that would enable it to alight clear of the area in the event of failure of a power unit, or at a height of 1,500ft above the highest fixed object, whichever is the higher. In fact the aircraft made three runs over the exhibition "at very low altitude"—estimated to have varied between 200 and 1,000ft. On the final run it passed over the exhibition with the starboard propeller feathered. Rotation of the propeller indicated that the pilot was attempting to restart the engine. The aircraft yawed from side to side, climbed to clear some high trees, went into a steep right-hand climbing attitude, then dived almost vertically into the ground. The pilot, R. P. Chambers, 24, and the three passengers were killed, and the wreckage caught fire.
In examining the qualifications of the pilot, the deputy chief inspector of accidents determined that Mr Chambers had completed a total of 256hr, of which 28hr were in Doves, of which probably only 3hr 45min were as pilot in command. Mr Chambers held a valid licence for the flight but had previously failed to pass a flying test for a Grade 1 rating endorsement. This was on the grounds that he was not competent to fly the aircraft under asymmetric flight conditions, and he had made arrangements ro receive more dual instruction after returning from Cardiff.
Examination of the wreckage showed that the flaps and undercarriage were retracted, the starboard fuel cock was in the "off" position, and that the starboard propeller pitch control was in the feathering position at the time of impact. It is probable, states the report, that during unfeathering the pilot omitted to turn on the fuel. The aircraft lost airspeed due to the drag from the windmilling propeller. Under these conditions there would be only a very small rate of climb on maximum power from the other engine. The report concludes from the fact that the starboard pitch control lever was in the feathered position that the pilot had initiated refecthering action at the last moment. Among the conclusions of the report are that there was no pre-crash failure of the engines or propellers; the pilot was inexperienced in Dove aircraft and was not proficient in asymmetric flying; the drag of the windmilling propeller caused a loss of airspeed; and the flight over Cardiff was made below the regulatory minimum safe altitude.

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