ROYAL AIR FORCE
Flt Lt Jonathan Paul Tapper, Flt Lt Richard David Cook, Malm Graham William Forbes, Sgt Kevin Andrew Hardie.
Lt Col Richard Lawrence Gregory-Smith, Lt Col John Tobias MBE. Lt Col George Victor Alexander Williams MBE,QGM. Colonel Christopher John Biles QGM,BEM. Major Richard Allen RGBW, Major Christopher John Dockerty (Prince Of Wales Own), Major Anthony Robert Hornby MBE. Major Roy Pugh MBE. Major Gary Paul Sparks.
ROYAL ULSTER CONSTABULARY (SPECIAL BRANCH)
ACC John Charles Brian Fitzsimons MBE, DCS Desmond Patrick Conroy QGM,BEM, DCS Maurice Mclaughlin Neilly, Det Super Phillip George Davidson, Det Super Robert Patrick Foster, Det Super John Turbitt Phoenix, Det Super William Rutherford Gwilliam, DI Dennis Stanley Bunting, DI Kevin Michael Magee, DI Stephen Davidson.
Mr Martin George Dalton, Mr John Robert Deverell CB,MBE, Ms Anne Catherine Macdonald, Mr Michael Bruce Maltby, Mr Stephen Lewis Rickard, Mr John Stuart Haynes MBE.
The RAF Chinook helicopter crash on the Mull of Kintyre in which 25 senior counterinsurgency personnel were killed was the worst single loss of life by the Royal Air Force since the Second World War. On the evening of 2nd June 1994, an RAF Chinook military helicopter slammed into a mountainside on the Mull of Kintyre in thick fog, killing all 29 onboard. Among the dead were four RAF crew and 25 of Britain’s senior counter insurgency personnel. The latter – including British Army officers and mainly members of the Royal Ulster Constabulary
The RAF Chinook – ZD576 – was taking the team of counterinsurgency experts to a high-level security conference at Fort George in Inverness (at the eastern end of the Great Glen). The helicopter took off from Aldergrove in Co Antrim, Northern Ireland, crossed the Antrim hills and the narrow Irish Sea to the Mull of Kintyre, and was to have headed along the Scottish coast to the western end of the Great Glen, thence along it to Inverness. But the ill-fated Chinook never made it to Fort George. About an hour into the journey, at around 6pm, the transport helicopter crashed into a hillside 800 feet above sea level on the Mull of Kintyre.
Initial suspicions of a Provisional IRA spectacular against the British enemy never gained traction. The crash was quickly understood to have been a tragic accident caused by poor visibility in bad fog – weather conditions that are a routine hazard in that part of the British Isles even in summertime.
Official inquiries blame pilot error
A year later, in 1995, an RAF Board of Inquiry (BOI) pointed to pilot error as the most likely cause. Controversially, two Air Vice Marshalls who reviewed the BOI judged that the pilots – Flight Lieutenant Jonathan Tapper and Flt Lt Richard Cook – were guilty of gross negligence; it was a harsh verdict which, in the case of deceased aircrew, should only have been given if there was “absolutely no doubt whatsoever” that the crash had happened due to their fault. The RAF has continued to maintain to the public that this was a simple ferry flight, passing by the Mull at low level under Visual Flying Regulations (VFR); the planning was portrayed as vague and informal and the pilots were blamed for inappropriate action upon entering Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) near the Mull – that is, simply, that they did not carry out required (and well practised) procedures when they ran into fog.
The official conclusion was that the pilots had elected to fly over the Mull rather than turn away from it, and that they had set up a wrong rate of climb. Apart from this particular piece of bad airmanship, the public has to wonder how such an experienced crew ended up hitting what in reality was an isolated low hill?
After 17 years, the RAF and the British government finally conceded in July 2011 that the pilots were not guilty of “gross negligence”. This was in response to the last official inquiry into the incident chaired by Lord Philip, published the same month, which determined that there were insufficient grounds beyond reasonable doubt to make such a harsh judgment on the deceased. While family and supporters welcomed the partial clearing of the RAF men’s name, nevertheless the official story of what happened to the Chinook remains the same. That is, that the pilots made an error in trying to fly over the Mull, with the emphasis on sudden inclement weather inducing them to miscalculate.