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Vickers VC10 Refuelling accident

Adam Elsdon

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Following on from the Vulcan undercarriage accident thread, here is one i personally witnessed, certainly the immediate aftermath anyway!


It was on RAF Brize Norton, December 2007 and the last day before everybody knocked off for the Christmas holidays, so spirits were high, as we were leaving our hangar to get our cars, alarms were sounding across Brize Norton and all of the emergency vehicles were charging across the field towards the base hangar area.

It was a very foggy afternoon, and the light was disappearing fast, but a very unusual sight greeted us, the front end of a VC10 rearing up through the fog, and it wasnt moving!


It turned out it had a fuel leak, and to check it out they filled all the tanks to make sure everything was rectified.

Now there was a procedure to defuel them down, it involved carrying out a manual check of the tanks and then the fin tank would be emptied first followed by the fuselage tanks and then the wing tanks.

What actually happened was the individual responsible decided to trust the panel fuel guages, not knowing the fin tank guage had a problem and read a constant zero, ah empty he thought!

The fuselage tanks were emptying and then the obvious happened, the aircraft became tail heavy, crashing down onto its rear fuselage.

Rumour had it that two people were on board at the time, one person in the cockpit landed up in the tail end of the aircraft, falling through the plane, and hurting themselves quite badly, requiring a rescue, made more dangerous by the aircraft sitting in a pool of its own fuel, the fuel hose disengaging when the aircraft shifted.

The aircraft was a write off! there was enough force to bend the airframe and make it beyond economical repair, it was dragged off to one side of the airfield where it was later canabilised for spares.

And there was worse, the station manning was dependant on aircraft numbers, so potentially one less aircraft, a whole heap less personnell were required to service it! so there was alot of admin shuffling trying to keep people in post rather than have to post them to another station. Hell to pay!!!


Anyway i found a picture of the incident! there is less fog in the picture, but there is still evidence of fire fighting foam around the rear of the aircraft to cover the spilt fuel.


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damn my typing! it was 1997! however the bit about it being broken in 99 isnt exactly right, they were stripping parts off of it almost straight away, i remember it lying in what was known as the trailer/caravan park, rapidly diminishing, i should imagine it was "officially" written off in 1999 i left Brize Norton in September 99, and by then it was pretty much only a fuselage and not alot of that either!

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