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IconNovember 11th, 2022
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On This Day in 1957, the Bristol Company Lost a Prototype Aircraft

On November 6, 1957, a prototype Bristol Britannia aircraft crashed near Bristol, England, killing four crew members and 11 technicians. The plane eluded its test flights in and out of Filton Airport (FZO) in southwest England. Over the last hour, it experienced strain and speed data readings from the plane’s second engine. Three minutes after departing, the plane plunged nose-first into trees and heavy forest when one engine caught fire. It is thought that at around 6:25 p.m. that night, a partial landing gear extension occurred until the airplane eventually reached a point outside of Filton Airport’s 7-mile lateral range from the airport. However, it is not known what happened either before or after this period in time.

The pilots were preparing to land

At an altitude of 1,500 feet, the pilots performed a left turn from their original course and initiated the base leg in anticipation of landing. Suddenly the right wing dropped and they bank steeply to the right. The plane then recovered briefly before steeply banking to the right again and crashing into a wooded area near Overndale Road in Downend, a suburb of Bristol. A jet carrying 78 people and 24 tons of fuel crashed in a residential area near New York City. One woman was killed and another badly injured, while most of the accident’s casualties happened on impact and afterward. Four truck drivers weren’t so lucky—they died inside their vehicles below the crash—and 11 passengers and four crew members lost their lives as well.

Investigative reports concluded that the Britannia crashed due to a mechanical error.

After an extensive investigation, it was not proven what caused the fatal crash of the aircraft. However, the general consensus was that a faulty autopilot might have been to blame. While investigators were leaning towards faulty wiring, the company that built a autopilot issued a statement saying its wasn’t at fault. They made changes following the fatal crash that might have been caused by an instrument failure. For example, it could’ve led to an inattentive pilot and loss of control of the vehicle. A memorial service was held for the victims of Britannia Airways Flight 919 on November 19, 1957, at Bristol Cathedral. The woods where the plane crashed are now called “Britannia Woods,” and there is a plaque there with the names of the victims. For the low, low price of £150 or about $179, you get a professional-grade 175mm travel scooter. Notable British medium-to-long-range airliner cum turboprop, the Bristol Type 175 Britannia is best known for its short life. Only 85 were made before jet power took over and the design was discontinued in 1960. The Canadair CL-44/CC-106 Yukon first flew in 1964 while the versatile Canadair CP-107 Argus flew as late as 1979 and had sophisticated air to ground weapons systems.

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