On this day in 1997

Air UK Fokker overshoots Guernsey runway

A Southampton to Guernsey flight with 50 passengers and four crew came off the end of the runway… and carried on. It went through a hedge and ended up in a field after landing in strong winds, cloud and rain.

The passengers had endured a turbulent descent towards Guernsey Airport and their first attempt at landing had been aborted. It had been obvious that the aircraft would touch down beyond the point where it should if it was to have sufficient safe stopping distance. Even on the second approach, which was successful in getting the aircraft down, it still landed beyond the point where it should, having already covered between a third and a half of the runway’s full length before its wheels made contact.

Excessive sidewinds

The crew later described how, once down, it felt like the aircraft was skidding along the concrete surface. It turned uncontrollably to the left, and left the runway while still travelling at around 70 mph (60 knots).

It transpired that the plane had been landing in strong sidewinds which, at 34 knots (40 mph), were five knots (6 mph) higher than the maximum allowed by Air UK’s operations manual. As a result, the pilot couldn’t apply sufficient breaking while simultaneously controlling the aircraft’s trajectory once down on the runway.

Both pilots and two of the passengers were slightly injured, but everyone else was unscathed and, on exiting the aircraft, found themselves standing in the middle of a field. It was another quarter of an hour before they were taken by ambulance, police car and local taxis to the airport building for shelter. The aircraft had to be written off, as it had sustained damage beyond economical repair to its landing gear, right-hand wing, engine and propellor.

 

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Other events that happened in December

French fishing boats prepare to invade 1st
Two cargo ships collide on their way to Guernsey 2nd
Guernseyman Herbert Le Patourel wrongly thought killed 3rd
A Guernsey funeral takes place in Cornwall 4th
Guernsey steamship SS Rossgull is wrecked 5th
The Guernsey Tapestry is completed 6th
Air UK Fokker overshoots Guernsey runway 7th
Naftel’s paintings go on display 8th
Guernsey and Jersey newspapers agree to merge 9th
Sark holds its first election 10th
Beau Sejour opens for business 11th
Victor Hugo flees France and Napoleon 12th
Explorer Edmund Kennedy is speared to death 13th
Author Mary Ann Shaffer is born
Herm bribery case comes to court 14th
Alderney’s evacuees return to their island 15th
Guillaume de Beauvoir appointed dean of English Church in Geneva 16th
Castle Cornet surrenders to Guernsey 17th
Telex, phones and telegram cables go quiet 18th
Guernsey shipwreck results in starvation 19th
Channel Islands Securities Exchange founded 20th
G-COBO has a bumpy flight 21st
Guernsey struck by an earthquake 22nd
William Hedley Cliff buys Jethou 23rd
Wombles author Liza Beresford dies 24th
Asterix is discovered in St Peter Port harbour 25th
Guille and Alles lease the Assembly Rooms 26th
The Red Cross saves Guernsey from starvation 27th
Operation Hardtack targets the Channel Islands 28th
Ebenezer Le Page author GB Edwards dies 29th
Castle Cornet is struck by lightning 30th
Guernsey Police makes the world’s first underwater arrest 31st