Vickers Varsity T1 WJ897 and the Leicester Aircraft Preservation Group

Varsity Sticker Small

The Accident

On 19th August 1984 Vickers Varsity T1 WJ897 / G-BDFT crashed near Marchington, Staffordshire whilst trying to make an emergency landing. Eleven of the fourteen aviation enthusiasts on board were killed.

The Varsity had been on its way from its base at RAF Syerston near Newark, Nottinghamshire, to an airshow at Liverpool Speke Airport when the accident occurred.

The official enquiry which followed concluded that the crash had been caused by loss of power on both engines contributing to a stall occurring when the aircraft had insufficient altitude to recover. The loss of power on one of the engines was due to a rubber diaphragm splitting (due to its age) which led to the fuel mixture reaching the engine being too rich, causing the engine to misfire. The second engine was too badly damaged to enable a conclusive examination to be made, but there was speculation that the magnetos which controlled sparking had also suffered an age-related deterioration.

As a result of this accident, restrictions have been brought on the carriage of passengers on historic aircraft in flight, now confined to crew members; and account has to be taken of the age of the aircraft components as well as actual flying hours.

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