Home   News   Article

RAF plane crash in Inverness remembered by pupils at school on 60th anniversary


By Philip Murray

Register for free to read more of the latest local news. It's easy and will only take a moment.



Click here to sign up to our free newsletters!
The pupils at the primary school with Flight Lieutenant Creswell and some of the project work.
The pupils at the primary school with Flight Lieutenant Creswell and some of the project work.

A dramatic air crash that sparked front page headlines and was dubbed the “Culloden Miracle” proved intriguing for local pupils after a school history project marked the anniversary of that fateful night.

The 60th anniversary year of the crash of an Avro Shackleton, a long-range RAF maritime patrol aircraft, was the perfect opportunity for pupils at Smithton Primary to explore some fascinating local history.

The 10-strong crew of the large aircraft, which was flying out of RAF Kinloss on the evening on January 10, 1964, were thrust into a life-or-death situation when one of the engines caught fire and detached from the wing.

Despite the plane’s rapid deterioration the crew were able to carry out a controlled crash landing in a field in Smithton, safely missing housing on the ground.

The pupils and Flight Lieutenant Creswell at Shackleton Park, next to the stone which marks the incident.
The pupils and Flight Lieutenant Creswell at Shackleton Park, next to the stone which marks the incident.

Amazingly all aboard the plane survived their ordeal, and were hailed as heroes for ensuring that the plane did not hit any housing or civilians on the ground - the “Culloden Miracle” the incident was dubbed in the press.

After escaping the wreckage of the ruined aircraft, the crew were also taken to the Green Hall where locals from Smithton looked after them until emergency services arrived.

Today the dramatic events of that evening 60 years ago are still remembered in the city, with Shackleton Park getting its name from the incident, and a monument stone at the site also marks the heroics of the crew.

And that story was brought to vivid life for a new generation when the pupils enjoyed a talk about the incident from a representative of the RAF’s 120 Squadron.

Principal teacher Scott Hardie said: “The incident is a remarkable piece of local history and one that is unique to our community here at Smithton. It may well also be of interest to the wider public.

“A representative from the RAF’s 120 Squadron was invited to the school to tell us more about the incident and to talk to us about the work of 120 Squadron.

“This really is an amazing story! Although it happened a long time ago, it is great that we can still learn about it today.

“Flight Lieutenant Creswell told us all about the Shackleton air crash, and he also described the interesting work that RAF 120 Squadron do today with their Poseidon P-8 aircraft. The class then visited Shackleton Park to look at the crash site.”

The pupils were fascinated by the tale and visit.

“What surprised me was when we were told that everybody survived the crash,” said Leo.

“It was a fun trip, and I liked it when our visitor told us everything that he did in his job,” added Xander.


Do you want to respond to this article? If so, click here to submit your thoughts and they may be published in print.



This site uses cookies. By continuing to browse the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies - Learn More