14th April 1965

Jersey Airport crash kills 26 on a plane

The only survivor of a fatal crash at Jersey Airport was the stewardess, 23-year-old Dominique Sillitere. The British United Airways flight from Orly Airport in Paris failed to land on its first attempt due to dense fog, just after six in the evening. The pilot, 31-year-old Jerseyman Peter Self, aborted at the last moment and went around to try again. In doing so, the plane clipped one of the landing lights and came down in a field, immediately catching fire. Three of the crew and all 23 passengers were killed.

Plane destroyed

The Dakota DC3 aircraft had been just 18m above ground when it clipped the light on its second approach, giving the pilot no opportunity to correct. The plane split in two, which is what ultimately saved the attendant’s life. While the front of the aircraft was crushed and burst into flames when it struck a freshly planted field of potatoes half a mile from the runway, she found herself sitting in a neighbouring field with both legs broken. She was pulled to safety by two locals who had witnessed the crash and run out to help.

Blame for the disaster was ultimately pinned on the pilot, who had attempted to land in visibility far short of British United Airways’ specified minimum. However, the aircraft and its occupants might still have been saved had the lighting rig not been so inflexible.


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