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12th of December 1973

A Dassault Falcon 20C (Avions Marcel Dassault Fan Jet Falcon) landed at Norwich Airport, Norfolk United Kingdom at 12.28lt for a charter to Gothenburg Sweden. While waiting for the passengers the crew readied the aircraft for the upcoming flight. At 15.20lt the passengers had boarded and the crew completed the necessary checklists and taxied out to Runway 28. They received the airway clearance during the short taxi and lined up on the runway.

The aircraft in better days

It was 15.37lt when the Commander as Pilot Flying advanced the throttles for take-off. Halfway down the runway the aircraft reached Vr and rotated off the runway. At that time the crew became aware of a flock of birds just above the runway, the Pilot Flying increased the pitch slightly and overflow the flock of birds, however, the new pitch attitude would put the flightpath straight through the second flock of birds.

By lowering the nose of the aircraft also this second flock of birds was missed and the aircraft was returned to the normal takeoff attitude. A third flock of birds now became apparent, this flock could not be avoided and the aircraft hit a large number of birds. The sound of the bride hits was described by the crew as "like a machine gun". The crew nearly immediately noticed the engines running down, the RPM was running down fast, and also the EPR and EGT indications were dropping. Noises similar to engine stall were occurring simultaneously with the dropping engine indications. The sound of the engines had changed, described as running rough. Both engines were not responding to throttle inputs ant more. At an altitude of approximately 300 feet with the gear still down (they didn't have time to select the gear up yet) the speed had decayed from 150 to 135 knots. A quick scan of the area by the commander identified a field suitable for a forced landing, it was abundantly clear they could never circle back to land at the airport. Due to the time of the year daylight was fading but there was still enough light for the crew to identify a treeline which they avoided. A firm touchdown was made in the field, at the time the stall warning sounded, 6 meters after touchdown the main gear broke off shortly after the nose gear broke off. Fifty meters after touchdown the aircraft, now sliding on its belly the aircraft ploughed to a large heap of manure causing structural damage to the left-wing and being ingested into the left engine. The aircraft came to a halt about 135 meters after touching down in the field.

The aircraft the day after the accident.

The Commander exited the flight deck opened the main cabin door and all occupants evacuated the aircraft. The passengers, although shaken by the experience only had some light bruises. All three crew members sustained some cuts, abrasions bruises, mainly to the face. They were all three admitted to the hospital. The commander was discharged after 4 days, the co-pilot and the stewardess after 6 days.

The aircraft in the field the day after the accident (from public domain)

The investigation into the accident revealed that the flock of birds were flocks of seagulls, the aircraft was damaged beyond repair. Several recommendations were given in the investigation report, which can be accessed by clicking here

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