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This website has attempted to look at some possible reasons for the accident but is not an attempt to attribute blame or to make accusations. It was a long chain of events starting some years before that combined with last minute factors to create a disaster. Looking at the situation and following it through today, it is like a miniature version of the Titanic tragedy and  in some ways a miracle that it hadn't happened earlier.  But , like the Titanic, it was unavoidable with the prevailing knowledge, culture and practice of the day.

Surely anyone with common sense could have seen this accident coming? Any one of a number of people could have prevented it?   They could have - today - with hindsight - and  knowing what we do of the circumstances.  But those involved couldn't in 1962 because they were doing what they had always done, broken no rules,  and it had always worked safely. The airline had been flying Dakotas on this route for several years and since inception had never lost a passenger life - this was good for any airline at the time and for a high volume low cost operation it was truly exceptional.  Channel was a good and safe operation in anyone's terms - we must always remember that.

In terms of the institutional culture of the Airline and Industry no one did anything that was particularly unusual, unsafe or even unwise.   They had flown in similar conditions many times before and nothing had happened, they had a 100% safety record, -  why should May 6th have been any different? Indeed it is only because of information and experience gained from  accidents like this that modern aviation is so safe.

If the plane had remained on the ground or flown directly back to Southend - if the crew had seen just a fleeting glimpse of Ventnor Town, or if they had been warned of how reduced the low level visibility would be as they approached the Isle of Wight, it would have been another uneventful day for South Coast aviation.  The passengers would have told of the wonderful and exciting flight they had along the Isle of Wight coast with a brilliant pilot who got them all home in awful weather. As it was, a combination of factors came together on  bleak hillside and caused a tragedy.  

Today all Hell would have broken loose after the crash with far reaching recriminations and many people might have been held to account, rightly or wrongly. It just wasn't like that in 1962, and when it is not possible to reach a definite conclusion about an accident, it is sometimes expedient to blame the Man in Charge, close the case and learn rapidly and quietly from the experience.

In this case the Ministry were in a prime position to prevent the situation arising.  They knew about the problem and the potential catastrophe - and failed to act. They then conducted the accident enquiry, took a very long time to produce the result while quickly taking behind the scenes action to preventing it happen again - and  blamed the pilot.  Surely this is a case for that modern favourite - a truly independent enquiry.  

However this was the only accident in which Channel Airways ever lost a passenger life and there is one thing of which you can be absolutely certain.  If anyone associated with this accident or involved with the Company, the Ministry, Met Office, or of course the crew, had thought for a moment that what they did - or did not do, might lead to an accident or incident of any kind, however unlikely, they would have done everything in their power to prevent it.

That is not - and never will be - in any doubt.

Channel Airways postcard - these could be purchased on board.

Channel Airways  closed in 1971 - the end of an era.

This was the only accident that cost a passenger life in millions of miles flown.