Following on from our recent Peeps items on the crash of a De Havilland Vampire in Frensham in 1955, there are plenty of other examples in the Herald archive of this most perilous, and pioneering era for jet aviation.

Another such tragic event that stands out is the crash of the Gloster Meteor T.7 WG961 on the Hog’s Back on Thursday, June 27, 1957, which unlike the Frensham crash sadly proved fatal for a young 24 year old RAF pilot.

The Herald’s contemporary account of the crash Tragedy on a sunny afternoon featured the pictures seen to the right, and the following caption: “A picture taken after a Meteor two-seater trainer plane from Odiham had crashed in the orchard of ‘Punda Maria’, a house at the Farnham end of the Hog’s Back, on Thursday week.

“One of the occupants was killed and the other seriously injured. RAF personnel are seen standing near the wreckage of the tail-plane.”

Official reports on the final flight of the Meteor reveal the jet was on a routine single-engine ‘ground-controlled approach’ to RAF Odiham when it experienced a sudden loss of control caused by a ‘procedural error’ when its undercarriage was lowered without retracting the air brakes.

The consequences were tragic. Flight Lieutenant Brian Thomas, RAF, aged 24, lost his life, while Flying Officer SJ Cooper, RAF, survived with serious injuries.

The wreckage was recovered, and the Meteor was officially struck off charge on July 1, 1957.

In memory of Flt Lt Thomas, a headstone in St Mary the Virgin churchyard, Pilton, Devon, solemnly marks the end of a routine mission that turned into another tragic chapter in aviation history.

Incidentally, Punda Maria, in Seale, was marketed for sale by Andrew Lodge Estate Agents in 2020, described as “a horse lovers ideal home, with paddocks, stables and beautiful views”.

The five-bedroom, detached country home sits on the southern slopes of the Hogs Back, set in around 4.5 acres.