The Case of the Missing Fuel: The story of the Stockport air disaster

Crews work to remove the remains of British Midland flight 542 after it crashed in downtown Stockport, England. (Manchester Evening News)
A Derby Airways DC-3, pictured in 1961, before the airline changed its name to British Midland. (G. Bullock)
A Trans-Canada Airlines Canadair North Star in 1948. (Bill Larkins)
G-ALHG, the aircraft involved in the accident, seen here in 1965. (Ken Fielding)
The route of flight 542 within Europe. (Google + own work)
Map of fight 542’s final minutes. (Air Safety Branch)
Vertical cross section of the flight’s final 15 minutes. (Air Safety Branch)
The plane and adjacent buildings burn shortly after the crash. (Manchester Evening News)
Civilians and police rush toward the burning airplane. (Mancunian Matters)
The remains of the cockpit crushed this car as they came to a halt. Captain Marlow was extracted alive from this very spot. (Manchester Evening News)
Surviving crewmembers Harry Marlow and Julia Partleton several months after the accident. (Manchester Evening News)
The front page of a local newspaper the day after the crash. (I Love Stockport on Facebook)
After the fire burned through the fuselage, the tail section partially dropped down into the ravine. (Gordon Austin Griffin)
An aerial view of the crash site during the wreckage cleanup process. (Manchester Evening News)
Crews work to remove the tail section from the ravine. (British Pathé)
The locations of the fuel source selector and fuel cross feed levers. (Air Safety Branch)
A diagram of the fuel system. Note the role of the fuel selector and cross feed valves. (Air Safety Branch)
A plan view of a closed cross feed valve. Note the arrows that show where fuel is flowing. (Air Safety Branch)
Flow of fuel through the cross feed valve when cracked open. (Air Safety Branch)
Many in Stockport expressed relief that the plane had not struck these highrises in the background. (Stop in Stockport)
Passengers’ belongings are recovered from the wreckage, including, apparently, a child’s doll. (Manchester Evening News)
A massive crowd of onlookers gathered at the scene. (Manchester Evening News)
Investigators examine the wreckage in the ravine. (I Love Stockport on Facebook)
Police work at the crash site. (Manchester Evening News)
What remained of the left wing can be seen amid the rubble of the building with which it collided. (I Love Stockport on Facebook)
Some small fires were still burning at the crash site many hours after the accident. (I Love Stockport on Facebook)
Workers use a crane to recover the tail from the ravine. (Greater Manchester Transport Society)
Another view of the scene from across the ravine. (Gordon Austin Griffin)
Much of the plane was reduced to chunks of melted aluminum. (I Love Stockport on Facebook)
Another view of the cockpit. Considering the damage, it’s remarkable that Captain Marlow survived. (I Love Stockport on Facebook)
One of several memorial plaques erected at a park in Stockport. (I Love Stockport on Facebook)
Another plaque, dedicated to the first responders. (I Love Stockport on Facebook)

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Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.

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Admiral Cloudberg

Admiral Cloudberg

Analyzer of plane crashes and author of upcoming book (eventually™). Contact me via @Admiral_Cloudberg on Reddit or by email at kylanddempsey@gmail.com.