Daily Telegraph April 12th 1973. By TERENCE SHAW in Hochwald. near Basle
THE pilot of the chartered Vanguard that crashed near Basle on Tuesday killing 105 of the 145 aboard made a mistake about the position of his plane, it was claimed last night.
Mr John Owen. head of the British Government’s investigation team at the crash scene, said he had listened to a recording of the last radio messages of the pilot and it was obvious that he was not where he thought he was.” Mr Owen told a Press conference that the aircraft had been cleared to approach beacon four miles north a of Base’s Mulhouse Airport and directed to make an instrument landing approach The airport is over the border in France and under the control of the French authorities. Landing approach Mr Owen said the Van- guard’s pilot was directed into a holding pattern at 5.000ft and given pre-landing conditions. weather as he circled left to outer marker the beacon the pilot was allowed to descend to 3,500 feet and he prepared to make the initial approach. I have listened to the tape recordings between the pilots and air traffic control and there was no indication of difficulties whatsoever.
It was a very clear recording. said Mr Owen. After being given clearance to land, the pilot said he was over-shooting and was directed to make a second attempt after circling left again and coming back over the beacon. He was cleared again to make an approach but for reasons not known he elected to go back into the holding pattern.” Mr Owen said that the pilot had not said anything to indicate that he was in bad trouble. “I believe his last message was that he was established on the glide path. It was obvious he was not where he thought he was.”
The plane crashed into the forest about 10 miles south of Basle airport and was flying in almost a direct line with the runway on which it had been trying to land. Experienced pilots Mr Owen said there was nothing to substantiate claims by some of the survivors that the plane had actually touched the runway on one approach. Visibility on the runway was between 700 and 1,200 metres and it should have been seen from the control tower, Capt. Melvin Bennett, operations manager of the Vanguard’s owners, Invicta International, said both pilots had considerable experience of landing at Base Airport. One had landed there 45 times in the last five years and the other 33 times in the last two years. The senior pilot of the Vanguard was Capt. Ivor Terry, 47, of Cliftonville, Kent, who leaves a wife and four children. His co-pilot was Capt. Anthony Dorman. The plane was built in 1962 and has done 16,000 flying hours and 14,000 landings.
Much of the snow which hindered rescue operations at the scene of the crash on Tuesday had thawed yesterday in warm sunshine. Although remains of some bodies were removed from the wreckage, together with the flight recorder, there was all-out attempt to clear the wreckage because of slippery conditions and expected further snow. Work on this may not begin until the weekend. Ninety – six of the people aboard the plane are known to have died in the crash and nine more are still listed as missing, presumed dead. Aviation experts from Britain, Switzerland and France have begun an on-the-spot investigation. The aircraft’s flight recorder -a brilliant orange sphere in a black shock-proof frame-was found apparently undamaged in the upturned tail section of the plane by rescue workers. It was flown to London from Zurich to be opened and examined jointly by British and Swiss experts.