Man who walked away from 1952 'lucky' Paris aircrash seeks fellow survivors (From Darlington and Stockton Times)
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Man who walked away from 1952 'lucky' Paris aircrash seeks fellow survivors
A MAN who walked away from a military plane crash 60 years ago has appealed to other survivors to contact him.
Maurice Pardoe, 83, said the Queen’s diamond jubilee had rekindled memories of when the plane he and 53 young conscripts were flying in lost a propeller, which then knocked off an engine and set the wing of the aircraft on fire.
Mr Pardoe, who has four grandchildren and lives in Dalton-on-Tees, near Darlington, said he vividly remembered how the Egypt-bound plane went into a dive near Paris, dropping 11,000ft in four minutes before crash landing in a harvested cornfield at 10.30pm.
In the aftermath of the crash in July 1952, he told The Northern Echo: “I honestly thought our number was up, but no one panicked.”
Mr Pardoe, originally from Middlesbrough who has since amassed a collection of photographs and reports detailing the incident, said he had discovered the Hermes plane had only been in service for four weeks before the crash after being converted into a troop transporter.
He said: “There was obviously an element of distress as it came down. We had been told we could not make their nearest airfield and to prepare for a crash landing.
“People gathered their thoughts and braced themselves for what was about to happen. We had been cruising at 200mph, so at that kind of speed you would expect total disaster.”
The former structural engineering draughtsman said: “There was some fire from the damaged units on the wing and the aircraft skidded until it came to rest. We were able to escape through the doors and run about 50 yards before the body was totally engulfed in flames.”
As the shaken 54 national servicemen and six crew on board – the most seriously injured of whom was the pilot, who suffered a fractured kneecap – surveyed the crash scene, in a wooden valley near Pithiviers, they realised they had avoided several hazards, including trees and electricity cables.
Mr Pardoe said: “When I hear about a plane crash, it makes me realise how lucky I have been and think about the dozen teenage national servicemen from the North-East who were on the flight and wonder if they have enjoyed their lives as much as I have.”
Anyone with memories about the crash is asked to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 01325-721019.