North American Harvard Mk.2B FT401 of No.22 FTS, crashed on Little Knock near Tweedsmuir on the 16th January 1953
The pilot Nicholas Charles Wadham was killed in the crash.
Midshipman Nicholas Wadham, a trainee Royal Navy pilot stationed at RNAS Anthorn in Cumbria though assigned to HMS Fulmar, was briefed to fly an aerobatics practice flight followed by QGH controlled descent practice. He took off at 12:03 and made contact with the air traffic controller at Anthorn to notify him that he was airborne. After this there was no further contact from Midshipman Wadham, despite an order requiring contact every 20 minutes.
The aircraft was next seen at 12:40 by a shepherd as it overflew Tweedsmuir at a height he estimated to be 50 to 100 feet, before turning south along one of the valleys just to the east of the village. Shortly after, he heard a bang and immediately assumed that it had crashed. Two hours later the crash site was located by another shepherd, close to the summit of Little Knock, an outlier of Broad Law.
The accident report concluded that the aircraft had struck the ridge while in a steep climb on the opposite side. The aircraft ‘bounced’ over the summit before its port wing dug in and caused the wreck to cart-wheel and come to rest inverted. Another fact that was determined was that a friend of the pilot lived in a house very close to the point where he turned south up the valley.
It states “from the accounts of eye witnesses and examination of the wreckage it would appear that Mid. Wadham was “beating up” his friend’s house against orders and that when endeavouring to climb away up a small narrow blind valley the aircraft was unable to obtain sufficient height to clear the hill tops which were in cloud and flew into the hills”.
To the right is the largest single piece of wreckage, the inverted inboard section of the starboard wing.
This account of the crash comes from Peak District Air Accident Research. You can find out more about their work investigating historic air crashes on their website (external link will open in a new browser tab or window)