Tuesday, 17th of February, 1959

– United Kingdom

A Turkish Airlines Vickers 794D Viscount, registration TC-SEV, operating a special flight from Ankara to London via Rome with Adnan Menderes the Prime Minister of Turkey and a party of Turkish Government officials on board, impacted trees and terrain while on approach about 5,2 km (3.3 mls) west of London-Gatwick Airport, UK.

The aircraft was destroyed. Five crew members and nine passengers were fatally injured. The remaining three crew members and seven passengers including Menderes survived the accident. (14 fatalities, 10 survivors)

The crash is the 39th deadliest aviation accident on the UK’s soil. It is also the 44th worst accident involving the Vickers Viscount.

– Details:

The aircraft was on a special flight from Ankara to London via Rome with Adnan Menderes the Prime Minister of Turkey and a party of Turkish Government officials on board. The aircraft left Rome at 13:02. TC-SEV called London Airways at 15:56 after passing Abbeville and was cleared by ATC to the Epsom Radio Range station, the holding point for London Airport. Because of poor visibility at destination London (Heathrow) Airport, the London Airport Commandant decided to inform the Turkish captain that he should divert to Gatwick. At 16:21 hrs the aircraft reported over the Epsom range and was given diversion instructions. At 16:27 it left Epsom for Mayfield, the holding point for Gatwick, where it was informed by Gatwick Approach Control that it would be positioned by radar for an ILS approach to runway 09. The latest weather report for Gatwick was given as wind calm, visibility 1.1 nm, mist, cloud 3 oktas at 600 feet, QFE 1036 mb. Over the Mayfield NDB at 4,000 feet the flight was instructed to steer a course of 280 and to descend to 2,000 feet. This was acknowledged. A further descent clearance was given to 1500 feet. The aircraft overshot the centre line slightly as it turned on to the ILS approach path. At 5nm from touchdown, the aircraft affirmed that it could continue on the ILS. TC-SEV was then asked to change to tower frequency and this request was acknowledged. This was the last communication with the aircraft. At a position of some 5 km from the runway threshold and 550 feet to the north of the approach path centre line, the aircraft contacted tops of trees 390 feet amsl at the edge of Jordan’s Wood. The aircraft began to disintegrate as it descended through the trees at an angle of about 6 degrees from the horizontal until the wheels made contact with the ground. After rising again slightly the main part of the wreckage came to rest about 100 yards further on and then caught fire.

– Cause:

“The evidence is insufficient to establish the cause of the accident. There is no indication however that this can be associated either with a technical failure of the aircraft or with a failure of the ground services. Thus it is believed the accident was the result of a controlled flight into terrain.”

– Occupants:

The eight crew consisted of three pilots, one navigator, one mechanic and three flight attendants, of whom five lost their lives.

Münir Ozbek, Captain (38) – (in command) – killed

Lütfi Biberoglu, Captain (35) – (second pilot) – killed

Sabri Kazmaoglu, Captain (35) – (reserve pilot) – killed

Gündüz Tezel, Captain (42) – (navigator) – killed

Türkay Erkay – (steward) – seriously injured

Gönül Uygur – (stewardess) – killed

Yurdanur Yelkovan – (stewardess) – seriously injured

Kemal Itık – (supernumerary mechanic) – uninjured

There were officially sixteen passengers on board, of which nine died at the accident. However, the list of names that appeared in the news included a total of seventeen passengers.

Adnan Menderes (Prime minister) – uninjured

Server Somuncuoğlu (Press, Media and Tourism Minister) – killed

Muzaffer Ersü (Private secretary of Prime minister) – killed

Şefik Fenmen (Deputy private secretary of Prime minister) – light injured

Melih Esenbel (Secretary General of Foreign Ministry) – light injured

İlhan Savut (Head of 2nd Department of Foreign Ministry) – killed

Mehmet Ali Görmüş (Private secretary of Press, Media and Tourism Minister) – killed

Sedat Görmüş (Secretary of Foreign Minister) – killed

Güner Türkmen (Secretary of Foreign Minister) – killed

Arif Demirer (Deputy of Afyonkarahisar Province) – injured

Emin Kalafat (Deputy of Çanakkale Province) – injured

Kemal Zeytinoğlu (Deputy of Eskişehir Province, former Public Works Minister) – killed

Rıfat Kadıoğlu (Deputy of Sakarya Province) – injured

Abdullah Parla (general manager of Turkish Airlines) – killed

Şerif Arzık (general manager of Anadolu News Agency) – killed

Burhan Tan (Photo reporter of Newspaper Akşam) – killed

Kazım Nefes (Police bodyguard) – injured