Spitfire NM814 – 03/07/1948.
On the 3rd July 1948 at
about 15:00 hours Flying Officer Peter Geldart of No 611 (West Lancashire)
Squadron Royal Auxiliary Air Force took off in Supermarine Spitfire No NM814 on
a navigation exercise to Morpth.
The flight of three Spitfires soon
ran into cloud and became separated with two of the aircraft returning to RAF
Woodvale. Flying Officer Geldart carried on until he ran into trouble in cloud
due to turbulence, after coming down from 6,000 feet to 3,500 feet Flying Officer Geldart
the spitfire over knowing the hills were at 2,600 feet he baled out in the area
of Kirkby Stephen. He was still in cloud when he landed badly causing
his ankle to be injured.
The aircraft dived vertically into
the ground at Coldbergh Edge and burst into flames, the aircraft was found to be
buried in the ground by a group of local residents and not knowing if the pilot
was still in the wreckage or not a search was started in heavy rain and fog to
look for Flying Officer Geldart who was eventually found sitting on a rock
unable to walk.
Due to a breakdown in communications
in the fact that Flying Officer Geldart had been found had not been passed on
therefore a search of the aircraft’s route was carried out in foul weather by
a Lancaster and Spitfires from Woodvale, there was even a radio broadcast just
before the 21:00 hour news on the BBC Home Service asking for information on a
missing pilot and aircraft. Just before this broadcast Flying Officer Geldart
managed to contact Woodvale and report to his unit he was safe, he was then
taken to the station sick quarters at RAF Catterick to have his injured ankle
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