Malta Air Tragedy 60th Anniversary
On 18th February 1956 Scottish Airlines Avro York, registration G-ANSY took off from RAF Luga Airport in Malta in the afternoon at 12:21pm on a flight to London Stansted Airport, with 45 passengers and five crew on board.
Shortly after becoming airborne the boost enrichment capsule in the carburetor of number one engine failed and the engine caught fire. The air traffic controllers saw the smoke coming from the engine and informed the pilot, Captain Frank Coker immediately. The aircraft appeared to slowly climb to around 1,000 feet, then the crew tried a left turn to return to the airport. Shortly after retracting the flaps the aircraft went a nose-up attitude at very low flying speed. This resulted in a stall, causing the aircraft to go into a dive and it crashed into the ground near Zurrieq, Malta killing all 50 passengers and crew on board the aircraft.
From inspection of the wreckage, it was determined the aircraft was almost vertical when it struck the ground.
Since it was loaded with around 2,000 gallons of high octane aviation fuel, the plane exploded on impact and was engulfed by flames. The men on board numbered a crew of five, with 45 passengers, all RAF personnel except one Army private. When the rescue services of the Royal Air Force and civil police arrived at the scene. It was clear that there were no survivors.
The funeral was held later that week at Imtarfa military cemetery. The RAF men are commemorated on tablets. At the request of his wife, the pilot, Captain Frank Coker was in a private grave. The bodies of the co-pilot, navigator, radio officer and an air hostess were taken to the U.K for burial.
See pages 140 & 141 of Edition 111 in Memoriam of:
Hodson S.A Senior Aicraftman - Market Harborough
Parker D. Leadind Aircraftsman - Leicester
Spence J.W. Sergent - Loughborough