Air crash survivors plan memorial
The survivors of a plane crash which claimed the lives of 11 people are organising a memorial event this year.
It is 25 years since the Vickers Varsity air disaster which killed members of the Leicester Aircraft Preservation Group.
The flight, carrying 14 people, took off from East Midlands Airport and crashed near Marchington, Staffordshire while it was trying to make an emergency landing after experiencing engine problems.
Two of the three survivors are organising a memorial event and they are asking the relatives of the victims to get in touch.
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They hope to visit the site on August 19, to remember their loved ones who died that day, 25 years ago.
Retired mechanic Bob Somerville, from Blaby, was one of the survivors.
The 68-year-old, who walked away from the crash with minor injuries, said: "I feel guilty to this day. I walked away with a cut on my hand and 11 of my friends had been killed.
"I remember standing with the fire brigade, after climbing out of the wreckage.
"The plane was in pieces and exploded when I tried to go back. The firemen said there was nothing they could do, so we had to stand and watch."
An official inquiry concluded the Vickers Varsity WJ897, which was maintained and flown by the Leicester Aircraft Preservation Group, had crashed when a rubber diaphragm split in one of its engines.
This meant fuel reaching the engine of the former Royal Air Force twin-engined plane was too rich, causing a misfire.
The fault sent the plane plummeting 3,000 feet to the ground, killing 11 passengers.
Debbie Lowe, from Mansfield, was 16 when her dad, Ron Arnold, 43, and uncle, Roy Arnold, 45, died in the crash.
Mrs Lowe, now 41, said: "I knew the plane well and I'd flown in it in May that year. The morning of the crash I remember my dad leaving the house and saying goodbye to us all.
"Later that afternoon, a neighbour shouted over the fence that a plane had crashed, but it wasn't until later we found out it was my dad and uncle.
"The following days are a blur, it was such a terrible shock."
Organisers of the commemorative event are meeting at the crash site on the March 29, to prepare it for the memorial in August.
Trevor Follows, 54, from Narborough, was 29 when he dragged himself from the burning wreckage of the Vickers Varsity.
He said: "When the plane hit the ground it exploded, it was like a giant fireball.
"I managed to escape through a hole in the floor and drag myself away on pure adrenaline.
"I suffered 20 per cent burns and I broke my left leg. After escaping from that scenario you ask questions; why did I get out and my mate didn't?
"We want as many relatives to come along as possible.
"I realise a lot of people will have tried to get some closure no the disaster and won't want to open old wounds.
"But all those who want to commemorate the crash are welcome."