Miles Master DL981, near Hebden Bridge.

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Miles Master DL981, near Hebden Bridge.

Unable to find anything in print or on the internet about Miles Master DL981, we set about having a look for ourselves. The aircraft crashed near the Pack Horse Pub at Widdop on September 16th 1949. From the Hebden Bridge Gazette of the time, we could easily follow the reporter’s detailed description of the scene to locate the site. Some fragments found at the site confirmed the location.

The Miles Master was a training aircraft, used to prepare pilots for Spitfires and Hurricanes. On this occasion DL981 was used to ferry Flying Officer Sydney Rowe from Leaconsfield, north of Beverley in Yorkshire, to Squire’s Gate, Blackpool. The pilot was Plt 1 Reginald Price. Both men were killed in the crash.

Witnesses reported hearing the aircraft circle the moors above, but could not see it because of the low cloud. Some said they heard the revving of its engine before the noise of the crash sent them hurrying to the scene. It’s not known why, but evidently the pilot was trying to land the aircraft. Were it not for two drystone walls barring his path, he may have made it, this field being one of the few relatively level spots in an area of steep and rough moorland.

DL981 clipped the topstones of the lower wall and tumbled into the wall on the right, overturned and burned in the field. The demolished wall has been rebuilt (just beneath the text in the photo), but it’s not as good a job as the original.

The Pennine Way passes within about 300m of this site.

photo of the wreckage from the Hebden Bridge Gazette reporting the incident.

16 comments on “Miles Master DL981, near Hebden Bridge.
  1. pasujoba says:

    Super information ,well presented as ever Ian . Good picture of a Miles Master too .

  2. andyholmfirth says:

    As low as a drystone wall….incredible.I’ve seen quite a few low flying Hercules type planes through the winter coming very low across Marsden Moor,around Pule Hill and then DOWN into the Wessenden Valley.It’s quite awesome to watch and I’m always reminded of your photostream Ian !

  3. het broertje van.. says:

    ……………………sad but beautiful!!!!

  4. Billy Currie says:

    I just had no idea there were so many of these. Very interesting

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  7. Tech Owl says:

    You’ve got a new career if you want it!!
    Nicely put together Ian.
    It begs two questions; why was it so low? Perhaps not sure of its altitude, and these walls look relatively insignificant. Why not just the landing gear taken out?

  8. *Psycho Delia* says:

    Fascinating but sad

  9. Ian D B says:

    Thanks everyone.
    Thanks Bryan. I don’t know for sure, it’s just my guess he was trying to land the plane. Why he needed to (if he needed to) is not known to me. He was on course, and about halfway to Blackpool, so presumably not lost or out of fuel?

    It seems to me he was trying to land from the witness statements saying the plane was circling – possibly looking for somewhere to put down? Visibility was bad, so perhaps Price gingerly eased down through the low cloud till he made visual contact with the ground?

    Can’t have been an easy thing to do. Maybe he thought he would clear the wall? There’s a fairly flat field just the other side of it. I presume the landing gear was down, but if coming in to land and travelling at a relatively slowly speed, I doubt the force would be sufficient to rip off the landing gear? The first wall sort of tripped up the aircraft. Having said that, even if he had cleared the first wall, it looks like he would still have hit the second. It’s all conjecture!

  10. sidewinder54 (Closed For Business) says:

    Another very interesting piece Ian.. Great work!!

    Have a wonderful week.

  11. redrocker_9 says:

    You are very through in your research Ian, nicely done.

  12. Keartona says:

    Can you imagine walking down this road and a plane appearing from seemingly nowhere across your path!
    You’re becoming quite the detective with all this 🙂

  13. ​favourite waste of time​ says:

    sad to see the debris left from the crash but sometimes even sadder to see nothing. As if they have all been forgotten

  14. Barry Howard says:

    Beautiful scene with a tragic story behind it.

  15. Kelvin says:

    We now have this story on our website as we are in contact with the son of the pilot, no additional details on the reason for the loss though – but they will be remembered.

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