Butser Hill woodland plane wreckage mystery solved by crash expert

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THE mystery of aeroplane wreckage discovered in woodland at Butser Hill has been solved by a pilot who attended the crash site over half a century ago.

Jonathan West, who runs the Whitelands Woodland conservation project from his woods on the slope of the hill, has been finding pieces of a destroyed aircraft there for years.

He was put in touch with pilot Peter Dimond, of The Square, Petersfield, an aviation fanatic with an encyclopaedic knowledge of crash sites around the Petersfield area.

When Mr West explained what he had found in his woods, Mr Dimond immediately told him it was a 1932 two-seater open cockpit Hirtenberg plane and, better still, gave a first-hand account of exactly what happened.

He had visited the site in the immediate aftermath of the crash, which took place in February 1958, when he was a teenager.

The accident saw two men from Middlesex escape out of the wreckage unharmed.

Years later Mr West stumbled across pieces of engine cowling, wing and wheel struts, an aileron from the trailing edge of the plane’s wing and a piece of walking board outside the cockpit while working on his woodland plot.

Mr Dimond said: ‘It was the first crash I had ever heard of and I was excited to go and find it.’