Conversation Log between aircraft and control tower,
Helmberger and crew of 5.
Crashed at Fairwood Common on 29th March at 10:22
Graham, was Duty Flying Control Officer. The aircraft was handed over to
control at 09:57 hours listening out on
World Guard. The following is a copy of the R/T log.
09:57 RW to Y: Steer 027 and transmit
Y to RW: 027 Roger. This is a Liberator; we'll need a pretty big field.
RW to Y: Runway 1620 yards. You'll be all right steer 030 What are
Y to RW: Say again.
09:58 RW to Y: What height are you?
Y to RW: Altitude 2700 feet.
RW to Y: Remain at that altitude.
Y to RW: Roger. We are partly in
soup now. Reducing to get out of soup.
RW to Y: You should be O.K. on present vector; do not reduce below .8-800
Y to RW: We would rather stay up in case we have to bale out.
RW to Y: Roger. Steer 030.
09: 59 Y to RW: Are we over land?
RW to Y: You are not over land now.
Y to RW: Let us know when over land.
10:00 RW to Y: Long voice transmission for homing continue on 030.
10:02 RW to Y: Transmit for homing continue on 030.
Y to RW: Roger. How many more minutes?
RW to Y: Cannot tell you at present moment. Will tell you shortly. You
have only a mile or two to go; will call you over base.
Y to RW: Say again.
RW to Y: Orbit to port.
Y to RW: Cannot understand message.
RW to Y: I say again; you are over base, orbit to port.
Y to RW: Coming over land, it that right?
RW to Y: That is correct. Go round in circles I want you to keep
Y to RW: Circling at 3600. Have to be quick petrol getting
RW to Y: Are you at 2700 feet?
RW to Y: Keep orbiting and will give you instructions.
meantime aircraft had passed over base and could not be heard.
10:04 RW to Y: Continue to circle 3600. Give long voice transmission
Reduce height, you are over base. Orbit to port. You are
right over base now. Orbit to port and reduce angels. I want you to reduce height.
Y to RW: We are reducing our altitude.
RW to Y: What is your endurance?
10:07 Y to RW: About 5 minutes.
RW to Y: You had better come in quickly; we are firing lights. You can
come down to 500 ft.
Y to RW: Roger.
RW to Y: Runway in use is 05; if you can come in on that.
Y to RW: We will do our best.
RW to Y: Can you see lights?
Y to RW: Cannot see a thing; going into soup. We are at 1600 ft.
RW to Y: Reduce, but keep orbiting.
Y to RW: Orbiting field; orbiting at 1300 ft. now.
RW to Y: You will have to come lower than that. Reduce to 600 ft.
Y to RW: We are dropping fast now 1200 ft.
RW to Y: Keep on turning. Tell me each hundred feet as you come down.
10:09 Y to RW: 1,000 ft., 800 ft., still in soup. 700 ft., 600 ft. We are in the
RW to Y: Can you see lights.
Y to RW: Not yet. At 500 ft. now.
RW to Y: At 500 ft. steer 210., steer 210., steer 210 for 2 minutes.
Y to RW: Do you want us to turn on 210.
RW to Y: Yes
10:11 Y to RW: Roger. We are over little lakes of water. Does that help you?
RW to Y: Yes. Keep going that way; it might help us later.
RW to Y: Q.F.E. 099.9.
Y to RW: Roger. At 300 ft., heading on 210, banking over buildings; looks
like coal mines.
RW to Y: Can you see lights?
Y to RW: Going up over ridge.
RW to Y: Ridge might be hill. I am
trying to avoid; climb to 700 ft.
10:12 Y to RW: Roger. I hope so
.staying on 210.
RW to Y: Steer 110.
Y to RW: Roger 110. Coming up to 700 ft. On 110. Pretty high peak ahead, ahead to right.
RW to Y: Roger. We are firing lights. You should see us.
10:13 RW to Y: Steer 090 and call if you see lights.
Y to RW: Steering 090.
RW to Y: You are in circuit. Keep orbiting. Can you see us? Turn port
I saw the aircraft for the first time near the South barrier
of the camp.
Y to RW: We are banking, turning to the left. Cannot see runway.
RW to Y: Keep over to port. We are firing lights.
Y to RW: We see lights. Have to come up to 050 for runway.
RW to Y: You are coming down Runway now. Wheels down. Keep out to
starboard turn port quickly.
Y to RW: We are doing that.
RW to Y: Turn port now. Keep turning port now.
10:14 Y to RW: Fire flares.
RW to Y: We are firing; try and keep lined up with runway. You are on
Y to RW: We have found it keep firing flares towards the end of runway.
RW to Y: Keep going round; firing lights from end of runway.
Y to RW: Save your flares; think we can make it.
RW to Y: We have run out of flares; you are coming in on wrong runway it
is much too short. You are now
across runway in use.
Y to RW: See end of runway now.
RW to Y: Keep your eye on it. Do you think you can make it?
Y to RW: Engines cutting.
RW to Y: Do not bother firing of red lights; they are being fired for your
assistance. Try and come in on any runway. Turn sharply port, try and come in on runway
Y to RW: Making height and baling out.
flares were lit at the down wind end of 05 runway. The Outer Circle, leading in
funnel and Fog funnel and flarepath were switched on in the hope that they
would prove of assistance to the Pilot in making his approach.
occasions I asked the Pilot to make tighter turns but he could not risk doing
that due to the shortage of petrol and the risk of starving the engines by such
action. Due to the exceptionally flat turns made by the Pilot, he was unable to
line up either with the long runway or any other runway in order to land or
pancake with any reasonable degree of safety.
I was not aware
that the aircraft had set out from an overseas base and would not be familiar
with normal code words used in this country, other wise I would not have used
certain words such as "orbit" and "angels".
the remark "We have run out of flares" made at approximately 10:17 hours; up to
that time we had fixed 40 verey lights from the Control Tower and the stock was
being replaced. In the meantime we informed the aircraft that red verey lights
would be fired not to prevent him coming in but for his assistance. We also
fired six Mortar bombs. When the aircraft was approaching 050 runway, verey lights
were fired only from the chequered van at the end of the runway.
at 10:00 hours on 29th March according to Fairwood Common
Meteorological Office was cloud base 700 feet, visibility 1800 yards. I
consider the cloud base was 5/10ths at 500 feet, 5/10ths 700 feet, 10/10ths
total, as the weather deteriorated between 10:00 and 11:00 hours.
crashed at 10:22 hours, after four of the crew had bailed out and landed
safely. Full crash procedure was instituted at once. The ambulance was standing
by at the Control Tower and proceeded at once to the scene of the crash.
G. B. Graham, F/O
29th March 1944 Duty Flying Control Officer.
This is the
signed copy of report by the duty Air Traffic Controller at R.A.F. Fairwood
Common which I, as Station Commander, called for immediately after the incident
involving USAAC B24 on 29th March 1944.
Air Vice Marshal, RAF
19th April 1983
Log provided by Bruce Barker