Ottery Heritage Society moves to remember plane crash

PUBLISHED: 15:46 27 April 2009 | UPDATED: 09:04 18 June 2010

IT was hailed a miracle- as on a July evening in 1980, a plane carrying 62 people plummeted from the sky over Ottery, grazing rooftops before coming to rest in a nearby field- all on board escaped unscathed.

IT was hailed a miracle- as on a July evening in 1980, a plane carrying 62 people plummeted from the sky over Ottery, grazing rooftops before coming to rest in a nearby field- all on board escaped unscathed.

Last Monday, Ottery's Heritage Society moved to ensure one of the town's most memorable incidents will not be forgotten by presenting Ottery's firefighters, whose predecessors were the first on the scene 29-years ago, with a fitting souvenir of the event.

Society chairman Robert Neal handed over a letter of commendation from Alidair Ltd to the then Devon and Cornwall Fire Service, thanking it for the "astonishing speed" in which firefighters got tot the scene.

Members of Ottery's retained service saw Flight QA 715, a chartered Viscount airliner which had run out of fuel on its journey from Santander to Exeter Airport, flounder overhead, perilously close to rooftops, before missing the Salston Manor Hotel by feet and crash-landing in a field at Bishops Court Farm.

They arrived on the scene moments later to help 58 passengers and four crew get off the aircraft and retrieve luggage.

Mr Neal said: "We are two more generations down the line and it was just an idea to remind the new crew and its younger members of what took place 29 years ago- things slip into history and people quickly forget."

"This (the commendation letter) is one of many things we (The Heritage Society) have stored away in bubble wrap that we hope to one day have on show as part of an exhibit when we find a permanent home."

Former members of Ottery's fire team visited current station commander Gary Shaw earlier this week and regaled him with tales of the evening.

He said: "One member, Frank Baston, was on his allotment when he heard plane going overhead. When the appliance turned up, people were still getting off and captain was still on the plane."

"He also told me a wing killed and decapitated four sheep, they found four heads but only three bodies.


If you value what this story gives you, please consider supporting the Sidmouth Herald. Click the link in the orange box above for details.

Become a supporter

This newspaper has been a central part of community life for many years. Our industry faces testing times, which is why we're asking for your support. Every contribution will help us continue to produce local journalism that makes a measurable difference to our community.

Latest from the Sidmouth Herald