When an aircraft is involved in a crash, authorities endeavor to gather as much wreckage as possible to help with the corresponding investigation. However, this can be difficult when an accident occurs on high ground. As such, there are several hilltop locations in the UK where hikers can find the remains of downed aircraft decades after such crashes. Let’s examine some of the most notable examples.
The ‘Bleaklow Bomber’
One of the UK’s most notable crash sites that has been left largely untouched is located 610 meters (2,001 feet) above sea level on the Bleaklow moorland. Situated near the Peak District town of Glossop, Derbyshire, this was where a USAF Boeing RB-29A ‘Superfortress’ crashed 74 years ago this week, on November 3rd, 1948. It did so while en route from RAF Scampton to RAF Burtonwood.
The crash occurred at around 11:00 local time when the crew began to descend through low clouds. Unfortunately, having assumed the plane’s location as being beyond the hills based on the flight, this caused the aircraft to hit the ground near Bleaklow’s Higher Shelf Stones. Sadly, the Aviation Safety Network notes that the crash killed all 13 of the occupants of the RB-29A, which caught fire.
Authorities recovered the bodies of those onboard, as well as money that survived the crash and fire. The cash totaled around £7,000, which, due to inflation over the years, would be worth over £300,000 ($335,000) today. However, the wreckage itself has remained largely in situ ever since. This has prompted it to become a key landmark for Peak District hikers, as can be seen in the video below.
Souvenir hunters have also been drawn to the wreckage over the years, making some incredible finds. Perhaps the most notable was that of the Captain’s wedding ring, which was returned to his family after a local hiker from the nearby town of Hadfield found it in the 1970s. Interestingly, the crash site is also just a couple of miles away from where a Bristol Blenheim came down in January 1939.
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Irish Law Mountain
Up in Scotland, North Ayrshire’s Irish Law Mountain is also home to a comparatively intact set of aircraft wreckage. Like the RB-29 in the Peak District, this also dates back to 1948. Indeed, British European Airways flight S200P crashed there while en route from London to Glasgow on April 21st that year. The service originated at RAF Northolt, and was bound for Glasgow’s former Renfrew Airport.
Investigators deemed pilot error to have been a key cause. The Vickers Viking airliner operating the flight in question had 20 people onboard. Thankfully, despite the plane breaking into three pieces and catching fire, all of them survived, albeit with 13 injuries. Today, more than 70 years later, we can see from the photograph below that large parts of the wreckage remain intact, much to the fascination of hikers.
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