Aviation Investigation Report A98H0003

Witness Accounts

  1. Witness Accounts
    1. Weather
    2. Sounds
    3. Illumination
    4. Fire Sightings
    5. Smoky Haze
    6. Other Observations
  2. Summary of Witness Statements
  3. Witness Location Map

Witness Accounts


Several witnesses near the crash site provided the following weather information:

  • Dark night
  • Overcast layer of cloud
  • Good visibility at ground level
  • Warm, moist airmass
  • Misty, but no precipitation on shore at time of the accident
  • On-shore wind (out of the east at an estimated 5 knots)

Witnesses reported that precipitation began later that evening, during the crash response.


As the aircraft passed over the Blandford area, numerous witnesses heard the very loud sound of the aircraft's engines. However, another sound was reported to be superimposed onto it, like that of a helicopter, a "spark plug knock," or the sound a truck might make when travelling along a washboard gravel road. This sound was a repetitive beat frequency, which remained at a constant rate and which was very loud.

Another similarity in the witnesses' descriptions is the rapid onset of the sound and the rapid rate at which it diminished as the aircraft passed overhead. Witnesses had the impression that the sound diminished faster than they would have expected based on range attenuation only.

The witnesses also indicated that the sound was sufficient to vibrate or shake the witnesses' houses; one witness reported having to yell to communicate over the sound.


Witnesses noted white lights on the aircraft southbound over St. Margaret's Bay. Witnesses reported seeing either a steady bright white light, a red flashing light, or both. The white light was fixed (not flashing) and was more brilliant than the other observed lights. Based on the descriptions, these may have been the aircraft's runway turn-off lights, located on the leading edge of the wing at the wing root, or one or more of the anti-collision lights that are mounted on the top and bottom surfaces of the aircraft. Most accounts of a flashing red light were reported by witnesses in the Blandford/Indian Harbour area.

Some witnesses reported seeing the cabin lights on.

Fire Sightings

Witnesses who saw the aircraft in the St. Margaret's Bay area did not report seeing fire. One witness in the Blandford area reported a blue-white glow emanating from the left side of the aircraft, forward of the wing root. This glow appeared to illuminate the left side of the aircraft only. This may have been an illuminated aircraft runway turn-off light, as seen through the cloud or haze.

There were several sightings described as a "flash" of light. At least one such sighting was associated with the aircraft flying over Blandford. For the others, it could not be determined whether the flash occurred while the aircraft was near Blandford or while it was closer to the crash site.

Smoky Haze

A smoky haze following the aircraft was noted during the aircraft's southbound flight track out of St. Margaret's Bay and, by one witness, over Blandford. This area of grey mist, wedge-shaped or triangular, was possibly vented fuel or smoke as seen by the ground-based observers.

Other Observations

No witness reported seeing any object separate from the aircraft.

One witness reported having seen the impact; however, the description of the event was not consistent with a high-velocity impact.

Summary of Witness Statements

(See table "Summary of witness statements.")

Witness Location Map

(See illustration of "Witness location map.")

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