Friday, April 17, 2020
Crash of Knight Air Flight 816
Knight Air flight 816 was a twin-engined Brazilian made Embraer Bandeirante which was one of six aircraft for the airline which was now running commuter flights from Leeds-Bradford Airport to Aberdeen, Isle of Man, Southampton, Teesside and Belfast. Flying the aircraft was Captain John Casson and his co-pilot John Denton who together had a vast amount of flying experience.
But just three minutes into the flight the pilot radioed the airport requesting permission to return to the airport. At 1750 the aircraft was in complete silence as it disappeared from RADAR. The controllers now had cause for concern.
The fog that seemed to envelope the whole of Yorkshire was not one that caused a great concern, but when the emergency services got a call just before 1800 that a possible light aircraft had crashed into a field in the tiny village of Dunkeswick in North Yorkshire, ambulances with police and fire teams rushed to the scene. When they reached the field, a mess of twisted wreckage gave them all the information they needed.
Firstly this was not just a light aircraft, secondly there were no survivors of the 12 people on board. The roads were closed off as teams from the Air Accidents Investigation Branch began their examination of the wreckage and had it taken away piece by piece.
The news crews turned up and broadcast live from the scene of the disaster and also carried an interview with a young boy who claimed to have heard over his radio the last words from the aircraft, saying that they had been struck by lightning before it went dead.
The final report blamed the failure of the horizon and suggested that all aircraft install a total of three artificial horizons in the event of one giving a false reading, the other two would read the same correct level.
25 years on this disaster is pretty much forgotten, there are people who live close to the crash site today that don't even know that the nearby field has a grim history.
Knight Air ceased trading less than a year later, the bosses claiming that the crash had not influenced their decision. An inquest was held in November 1996 with the jury returning a verdict of accidental death on the twelve victims.
Note - I am writing a book on British disasters that have been forgotten over the years and plan to include a chapter on Knight Air 816. If you know or have anything relating to this crash then please contact me firstname.lastname@example.org