Wednesday, 3 August 2011

Tragedy at Barton last Friday

The world of private aviation is a small one. I heard last Friday while firing 'Planet' at MoSI that a Piper Tomahawk of Ravenair Flying School had crashed on take off from Barton Airfield, Manchester, and the two occupants were injured with burns. The aircraft apparently suffered engine failure although we won't know what actually happened until the official accident report is released. It turned out later that the accident was far more serious than I at first thought, as the pilot later died of his injuries and his passenger, as I write, is in a critical condition in hospital.

It also transpired that I knew the pilot and had flown the aeroplane concerned many years ago. The pilot was Ian Daglish of Alderley Edge; we were both members of Alderley History Group, had talked on the phone and exchanged e-mails on flying, and Ian had invited me to his 'local' to chat about flying. We never got around to it, and now we never will.

Ian Daglish

The aeroplane involved was a Piper PA38 Tomahawk registered G-RVRF. Its original UK registration was G-BGEL and it spent some time on the Lancashire Aero Club fleet at Barton where I flew it extensively between 1st September 1979 and April 1980 while our newly aquired Chipmunk G-BCSL was receiving engineering attention.

PA 38 G-BGEL in the early days. This aeroplane, later owned by Ravenair and re-registered G-RVRF, was the aircraft involved in last Friday's tragedy.

Former G-BGEL, as re-registered by Ravenair. Note the pilot is wearing a hi-viz vest; these things have become endemic in light aviation with many airfields blindly insisting on their use on the apron despite there being no safety case to make this a sensible thing to do. In fact they are highly flammable and should never be worn in an aircraft (there is no suggestion they were being worn in RF last Friday). Sensible airstrips, like Sherlowe, ban them altogether.

RIP Ian, and let's hope his young passenger pulls through OK.


The accident report has been issued by AAIB. It can be read here:


  1. Hi Vince,
    I am the pilot in the Hi-Viz jacket and flew RF the weekend before the incident.
    Hi-Viz jackets are/were mandatory at Barton and as an instructor we had to ensure that we and our students wore them.
    There were no guidelines at that time about the wearing of hi-viz jackets in aircraft.
    Happy Landings,

  2. Hi Mike

    Good to hear from you. Your comment bears out my point - mandatory wearing of hi viz often leads to it being left on in the aeroplane. There it actually constitutes a danger, wheras on the apron at all but major airfields it serves no purpose. It's madatory at Liverpool as well, and my method was to wear it on the apron then take it off and shove it down the side of the seat when it was time to fly!



  3. The AAIB report is now available and I hope PA38 fuel selector valves will be given a little more attention. It certainly seems a weak design with opportunities for stiffness and play where the handle meets the connecting rod and where the connecting rod meets the valve.

    On hi viz, some airfields forbid it when dispensing fuel because of fears of static discharges. I would have thought the oil industry would have resolved all these issues long ago. I am required to wear hi viz on the apron, but discard it into the back of the aircraft when I climb aboard.

    1. Yes, I have added a link to the AAIB report. I must admit I never did like the fuel selector on the PA38 - it never felt 'positive' to me.

      The report is throrough. These reports never apportion blame, but everything you need to know to determine what happened and why is in there.