Royal Air Force - Benson


[ David Sale ]

Two RAF personnel who were killed when their Puma helicopter crashed near Catterick, North Yorkshire, on Wednesday 8 August 2007, whilst taking part in a routine training exercise. Flight Lieutenant David Sale (on the left) ... Sergeant Phillip Burfoot (on the right) both serving with 33 Squadron, Royal Air Force Benson.

Group Captain Paul Lyall, Station Commander at RAF Benson, issued the following statement:

"I can confirm that a Puma helicopter from 33 Squadron, Royal Air Force Benson crashed near Catterick whilst taking part in a routine training exercise. "Of the 12 personnel on board, three were aircrew from Royal Air Force Benson and the nine rear passengers were soldiers from 1 Brigade, Infantry Training Battalion, Catterick. Tragically two fatalities were confirmed at the scene. All the next of kin have been informed.

"I can now confirm that the Royal Air Force personnel who were killed were, the aircraft's Captain, Flight Lieutenant David Oxer Hanson Sale and the aircraft's crewman Sergeant Phillip Anthony Burfoot. Both came from 33 Squadron, Royal Air Force Benson.

"Words cannot adequately express our grief at their loss. Our prayers and thoughts are with the families and loved ones at this time. "The cause of the accident is still unknown. A full investigation is now in progress. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the emergency services and the service personnel who assisted at the crash site. "As you can imagine, our immediate focus is on supporting their families, friends and colleagues. Statement by Brigadier David Clements, Commandant Infantry Training Centre Catterick: "I can confirm that the nine Army personnel who were on board the Puma helicopter were from ITC Catterick. Eight recruits and one member of permanent staff were on a routine training exercise when the incident occurred. All were moved swiftly to hospitals within the region. At present three recruits are listed as very seriously ill with the remainder thankfully having incurred minor injuries. The Next of Kin of all have been informed, and are being given every assistance by Army personnel. "Our thoughts are with the families and friends of the staff and recruits involved at this tragic time. In addition I would like to convey my sincere condolences to the family, friends and colleagues of the airmen who died.  "I would like to pay tribute to all those involved in the rescue operation including members of ITC Catterick who were exercising in the same area, and who demonstrated great courage in attending to survivors in the immediate aftermath of the crash. The Police, Ambulance and Mountain Rescue services all provided a superb response, and we are grateful for their exemplary actions."

Flight Lieutenant Dave Sale, aged 28, joined 33 Squadron in April 2006 and quickly became an integral part of both squadron and Officers' Mess life. His cheerful manner and dry wit made him a welcome presence both in the air and on the ground, while his ready ear and good stock of red wine were always available to his many friends when needed. He represented Royal Air Force Benson at both hockey and golf, and in his free time he enjoyed the more "gentlemanly" leisure of poker with his willing victims. Dave was a model officer and professional pilot, immersing himself in squadron life in all respects; he was a man who could be relied on to do a job both effectively and in good humour. A good friend to many, not only in the Royal Air Force but also amongst those who knew him from his time at university, Dave was the life and soul of the party and will be sorely missed by all. Sergeant Phillip Anthony Burfoot ... Prior to his transfer to the Air Loadmaster branch, Sergeant Phil "Taff" Burfoot, aged 27, was a ground technician on the Tornado. Upon completion of aircrew training, he joined 33 Squadron in April 2007 and quickly established himself as a highly capable aviator. An immediately likeable individual, his love of life was infectious, as was his dedication and loyalty to his friends, to his Squadron and to the Royal Air Force. A fiercely proud Welshman, he enjoyed watching rugby and was an accomplished player in his own right. Phil was an utterly dependable and highly professional Senior Non-Commissioned Officer, completing any task with a ready smile. He showed huge potential in his fledgling career as a crewman and will be sorely missed by all his friends and colleagues throughout the Royal Air Force.