By John Hayes Fisher
Last updated 2011-02-17
When the aircraft ploughed into the ground at 08.45am on 26 May 1952, it was travelling quite slowly, with its wheels up, as Captain Langley attempted a belly landing. As it came in, the port wing struck a dune and was ripped from the fuselage, which remained intact despite the fact that the aircraft's back was broken. All the passengers survived the impact with relatively minor injuries, partly because Chief Steward Len Smee had been able to brief each passenger individually as to how to survive a crash landing.
Len Smee had flown in the RAF as a navigator, and had been involved in a crash landing during the war - when his Wellington bomber was attacked by 'intruders' while crossing the North Sea. With the engine controlling the hydraulics shot out, the pilot had issued a May-Day call before belly-landing the stricken bomber at Castle Donnington. The crew walked away from the aircraft unhurt, but the bomber was a write-off.
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