This remarkable true story, set in the last days of one of Great Britain’s magnificent airliners, follows the bizarre circumstances that caused a routine flight from Santander to Devon to end in near disaster.
The Vickers Viscount’s final flight is re-created in rich detail and set in the context of the lives of those who witnessed it. From the heart-stopping moment of realisation that the plane was not going to reach Exeter Airport, you will be in the cockpit with Geoff Whittaker – the pilot whose job it was to do the near impossible – on the ground with witnesses and alongside the terrified passengers in the cabin, every one of them staring death in the face.
Meticulously researched, Forced Landing: The Last Flight of a Viscount perfectly captures the drama of July 17th 1980 that briefly put Ottery St Mary into the headlines.
Jim Rider has lived in East Devon since 1987 and retired from the Royal Marines as a Captain in 1994. He served as Her Majesty the Queen’s Director of Music in HM Royal Yacht, Britannia and worked personally for HM the Queen in the Royal Household on matters of state ceremonial and high profile international events.
Jim has a passion for writing and says, “I was asked by a neighbour if I knew about the 1980 plane crash near the neighbouring town of Ottery St Mary. I did not”. “A big airliner crash landed on the cricket field”, he said. “Well, I was soon checking out that possibility on ‘Google Earth’. That idea was the first myth I came across and many more followed along with lots of fascinating facts and curious side issues. Just how did sixty two people manage to walk away and take tea at a nearby hotel? My interest was aroused and after nearly two years of detailed research I felt compelled to put my fascinating discoveries into a book for all to enjoy. If there ever was such a thing as a ‘happy plane crash, this was it’, I thought. I tracked down many witnesses, photos, press reports and the pilot’s charming widow over there in Jersey. I found gaps in hedges, furrows and a drilled tree, just where they all should have been in the farmer’s field. What a fascinating adventure it has been down in the byways of delightful Devon.”