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Northallerton pilot honoured 60 years after crash on Scottish hillside
A POIGNANT memorial took place on a Scottish mountainside yesterday, more than 60 years after a North Yorkshire pilot crashed there.
John Brian Lightfoot was 22 when he died when his Gloster Meteor Jet came down in a blizzard in the Bennachie Hills in east Aberdeenshire in February 1952.
The crash was the second to happen on the mountainside - which is often described as bearing a remarkable similarity to Roseberry Topping.
Ellard Cummings, 23, a Canadian pilot with the RAF, and his gunner, Ronald Stewart, 24, became the first official military casualties of the Second World War when their Westland Wallace biplane crashed into the mist-shrouded hill on the first day of the war on September 3, 1939.
Yesterday’s ceremony was to dedicate a cairn in memory of the three RAF servicemen and relatives from the men’s families travelled from as far away as Canada to be present.
The memorial contains small pieces of wreckage from both planes and was formally dedicated at a simple service conducted by an RAF padre.
Present at the ceremony was Julie Blakey, from Northallerton , who was married to Mr Lightfoot’s cousin, Peter Blakey, and is one of only two surviving members of his family. Also at the ceremony was local historian Jim Sedgwick, who helped the Bailies of Bennachie, a local conservation society for the area, find out more about the North Yorkshire pilot.
Mr Sedgwick, chairman of Northallerton and District Local History Society, found the pilot was the son of a wellknown Northallerton ironmonger, Monty Lightfoot and his wife, Juanita, and had been a student at Barnard Castle School.
Mr Sedgwick said: “The Bailies of Bennachie have treated us absolutely wonderfully while we’ve been up here. It’s a sad occasion, but at least this accident is now going to be remembered.”
Mr Lightfoot had been flying on a training mission from RAF Leuchars when his plane crashed on the 528-metre Oxen Craig in the Bennachie Hills.
During the 1950s, about 50 Meteor pilots died when their aircraft reportedly dived into the ground.
In 1952 an average of one Meteor aircraft was said to be written off every two days.
Some of the wreckage from his plane was left at the crash site in a makeshift memorial by his RAF colleagues.