Crash of Swift WK 304 - Monday 26th October 1959

This is a recent local German newspaper report published in October 2009, on the crash of Swift WK 304 on Monday 26th October 1959.

Maurice was a bit puzzeled at first because the report claims that it was a Hunter, but looking at the picture it can only be a Swift.   The date also tie-up with the details in the JSL web site aircraft lists and so it can then only be WK 304.   The pilot, Al Martin, ejected and seriously injured his back as this was his second ejection.   The aircraft had an engine failure over the North Sea.

Maurice has not translated everything, just the interesting parts.

Captions to pics, large:   Firemen extinguishing the burning 'cockpit' of the crashed aircraft in Roffhausen.   (Looks like the engine though)

small:   The rear fuselage of the crashed aircraft.

300 m further would have caused a disaster

History: The aircraft crash in Roffhausen 50 years ago started off big discussions.

     A British jet aircraft crash - landed near the Olympia Werks.   All persons involved then were very lucky.

Roffhausen - A pre-warning of the threatening disaster was a loud explosion.   What then happened took only a split second.   Witnesses observed a jet aircraft in the sky over Wilhelmshaven that was decending in a glide in the direction of Roffhausen.

     The aircraft crashed near the junction of the B69 and B210 and disintergrated.   Several parts of the still burning wreckage slid across the main road.   Due to a miracle no one, other that the pilot was injured.

     50 years ago, on the 26th. October 1959, only luck and flying skill saved the Landkreis Friesland from a unprecedented disaster.   Investigations later revealed that it was only because the RAF pilot remained with his aircraft until the very last minute that no further damage was caused.   As on every Monday morning, just before lunchtime, thousands of employees were at work in the Olympia Werks which was only 300m away from the site of the crash.   Experts said later that in relation to the speed of the aircraft a few hundred metres is practicaly nothing.   It is difficult to imagine the number of casualties there would have been if the fully armed Swift had crashed into the factory.

     The pilot ejected just prior to the aircraft hitting the ground.   The cause of the crash was an engine failure over the sea.   The RAF had attempted to guide the aircraft back to its home base at Jever but this could not be reached.   Once the pilot was sure that he had done everything humanly possible to avoid any casualties he ejected out of the aircraft.   Due to the low altitude of ejection the parachute did not open fully and the pilot suffered facial injury and bruies.   The Wilhelmshaven Fire Brigade quickly reached the site of the crash and extinguished the blazing cockpit which had slid 50m further on over the main road.   The fuselage section had brocken off several trees.   RAF personnel cleared away the ammunition that was scattered over the area of the crash.

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Swift FR.5 WK304 arrived on 2 Sqn on Tue 29Sep59 and crashed a month later on Mon 26Oct59.   (Thanks to Michael Church.)

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David Sawford standing by the engine wreckage of 2 Sqn Swift FR.5 WK304 which crashed near the Olympia Factory just outside Wilhelmshaven after engine failure on a GCA approach to land at Jever.   (Thanks to Michael Church.)

In Mike Wilson's picture one can see the factory and in the bottom left hand corner of the picture the approximate impact point of the crash.

     Following this accident and the 'Starfighter' crashes in the years thereafter, emplyees at Olympia were very concerned that this sort of thing would happen again which resulted in big dicussions in the local press with regard to 'Starfighter' operations from GAF Jever.

   It was a very distinctive landmark on the approach to the Jever runway from the East.   As the prevailing winds were from the West, it was the approach most used by aircarft running in to land or break into the circuit.   The factory was known as "Stepney" (An eastern suburb of London) and used as an Inital Point (IP) reporting point for aircraft running in to join the circuit.

   This diagram also shows that the Olympia Factory was just North of the 4 miles to touchdown point on the GCA glidepath when aircraft would be expected to be at about 1,200 ft above the ground as they were talked down by radar.   (Thanks to Maurice Parker.)