Why were the old aircraft wrecks not removed from the mountain crash sites. The Canberra on Carn an’t – Sagiart Mor near Lochnagar?

I received a question through the blog that I had been asked before!

“Hi Heavy. Interesting to read your blog on the Canberra wreckage on Carn an-t- Sagairt Mor in the White Mounth area. (Nov 1956 Search for a missing Canberra aircraft and the recovery of 2 Crew. One Of Ray Sunshine’s Seftons first call out.  Locals & RAF Leuchars RAF Kinloss on call out . Crew recovered with assistance of a RAF Sycamore Helicopter! Early Rescue/ Recovery in the mountain by Helicopter. Both crew Killed)

Carn an’t – Sagiart Mor


I happened to be on this Munro some weeks ago and did indeed see lots of the wreckage of the aircraft. I was in the RAF myself from 1978-2002 and was in the Aircraft Airframe trade and recognised many of the parts of the debris. Whilst I served at Leuchars, I do remember you being the leader of the MRT.
A question I would like to ask you – when the Canberra crashed in 1956, I appreciate there wasn’t the resources and equipment to recover the aircraft debris but surely now in modern times there are helicopters like the Chinook for example that can remove all the visible debris on the mountain sides? Or would this be a problematic logistical exercise? In my opinion, the debris is an eyesore on such a beautiful landscape.
Regards”

Thanks for the question. All the recent aircraft. To my knowledge have been removed. The Shackleton on Harris in 1990 the Chinook on Mull of Kintyre and the F15’s in the Cairngorms in 2001. I am sure MOD policy is to take them away especially due to Heath and Safety aspects that make modern day aircraft . Many modern aircraft had such a selection of man made fibres that they are still dangerous after the aircraft has crashed.

Previous to this most were left in situ due to location etc. Many are World War Two aircraft. There were few men available at the time to move aircraft. Yet Inverness had a group of Indian Muleteers that went to many crashes and recovered the casualties and anything they could reuse. The crash sites are all covered by the Military Remains Act as like the Anson on Assynt the crew were buried nearby.


The USA F111 that crashed on Skye in 1982 had lots of wreckage. That has not been removed due to the location and steepness of the site. I would write to MOD and ask. I would imagine the cost of removing wreckage would be a huge factor. Interesting comment thanks!

Strange that the Canberra is still there but this was the first time helicopters were used in the mountain’s for SAR at the first time. There is lots of information From the Site Air Crash Sites Scotland

Comments welcome !

Lancaster Wing on Beinn Eighe crashed in March 2001

About heavywhalley.MBE

Mountain Rescue Specialist. Environmentalist. Spent 37 years with RAF Mountain Rescue and 3 years with a civilian Team . Still an active Mountaineer and loves the wild places.
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