Accident Piper PA-23-160 Apache G-ATFZ,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 82732
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Date:Thursday 1 September 1966
Time:10:35 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic PA23 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Piper PA-23-160 Apache
Owner/operator:Dan Air Services Ltd
Registration: G-ATFZ
MSN: 23-1314
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Loxhill, Hascombe, near Godalming, Surrey -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:London Gatwick (LGW/EGKK)
Destination airport:Lasham, Hampshire (QLA/EGHL)
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Piper Apache G-ATFZ, owned and operated by Dan Air Services Ltd, crashed into trees at Loxhill, near Godalming, in bad weather on 1st September 1966. Flying from Gatwick to Lasham to pick up company personnel for onward flight to Bristol, Dunsfold Air Traffic Control answered a call from the Apache at 1034 GMT - when Dunsfold said that they understood G-ATFZ was going to overfly at 1,500 feet, the pilot replied;

"Negative 1,500. I don't think we'll get above 500 feet we're just on the bottom of this stuff."

That was the last contact with the Apache, which crashed just one minute later. Both of the occupants were killed. The pilot was John Sibert, aged 30, who had learned to fly in the U.S.A in the late 1950's. He had joined Dan Air in January 1966, and had flown 110 hours in Piper Apache aircraft at the time of the crash. The co-pilot was Harold Johnson, aged 42, who had qualified as a pilot in the R.A.F. He joined Dan Air as a cadet pilot in 1960, obtaining his commercial licence a year later. He was only onboard this flight on the chance that he might be able to carry out some instrument flying practice prior to an upcoming rating test.

Per contemporary report in "Flight International" magazine, 10 August 1967: "For reasons that have not been ascertained, the pilot of the Dan-Air Piper Apache which crashed into high ground en route from Gatwick to Lasham on September 1, 1966, had attempted to remain below cloud when such an operating technique was not practicable in the weather conditions prevailing.

The aircraft was on a communications flight with two crew aboard (only the pilot had an instrument rating) and was well equipped for IFR operation yet the decision was taken to fly VFR. The inspector of accidents in his report just published* notes that radar services were standing by at Lasham to give approach guidance to the Apache, and that the last weather information passed to the pilot indicated a cloud base at Lasham of 300 feet above ground with a visibility of 1.5 to 2 miles. The inspector notes that "a direct VFR flight to Lasham would have saved considerable time, and it may be that this was what the pilot had in mind. However, in the circumstances, the decision to attempt the flight below cloud was bad airmanship and the fundamental cause of the accident."

The aircraft struck trees near the top of the 644 feet Loxhill a mile north of Dunsfold. Both pilots were killed but the report considers that the degree of injury received (almost entirely to the head and upper torso) "would have been considerably lessened if shoulder harnesses and protective helmets had been worn." Only lap straps were fitted to the Apache..."

G-ATFZ was ex-OE-FIM (Austrian registry, from new, 1959; re-registered as G-ATFZ 8 July 1965 (C of R R.8625/1). Registration cancelled on 1 September 1966 as "destroyed".


1. Local knowledge. Date, nature of flight, and narrative corrected from contemporary item in Flight International (August 10, 1967) re AAIB report publication.
2. 1966 Dan-Air Piper Apache Crash, Edited by Antigone Fernande, 2012 (ISBN 10: 6136284030/ISBN 13: 9786136284033):
3. Civil Aircraft Accident – Report on the Accident to Piper PA23 series 160 G-ATFZ at Loxhill, Hascombe, near Godalming, Surrey on 1 September 1966, Board of Trade, Her Majesty's Stationery Office, London, 1967, pp1-5
4. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 101/497:
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 101/496:
6. "Flight International" magazine, 10 August 1967:
11. G-ATFZ in its former guise as OE-FIM in 1959:

Revision history:

20-Nov-2010 03:57 VHKDK Added
10-May-2012 07:48 Pundit Updated [Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
10-May-2012 11:46 Pundit Updated [Date, Nature, Source, Narrative]
11-Sep-2013 02:40 Dr.John Smith Updated [Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
29-Oct-2019 18:37 Uli Elch Updated [Aircraft type]
19-Feb-2020 22:16 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
19-Feb-2020 22:19 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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