Narrow escape as jet skims estate's rooftops

Freighter crash confirms people's fears, writes Martin Whitfield

Displaced roof tiles and a piece of aircraft debris hanging from a garden tree tell the tale of how close Coventry's Willenhall estate came to disaster.

Miraculously, the Air Algerie Boeing 737 managed to slip between the terraces of Field March and James Croft before plunging into the woods.

Wires from the damaged electricity pylon hung down among garages and sheds.

"It's amazing that more people weren't killed," said Dave Chesworth, 49, the owner of a fruit shop with a clear view of the damaged pylon.

"On a lovely morning like today there are usually children playing in the woods."

The estate is less than two miles from the airport and lies directly beneath the main approach path. Several residents watched the crash from their bedroom windows.

Josephine Kelly, 60, a cleaner at the Willenhall Social Club, was just getting up in a house in James Croft when she heard the first crash. She believes the Algerian pilot must have deliberately tried to avoid the houses.

"I had just opened the curtains and there it was. I thought it was going to hit the house. It must have swerved as it was on its side. The first thing I heard was a lot of noise; it was only a matter of seconds. There was a big bang followed by four explosions.

"It has made people very nervous. They keeping tell us that they don't go too low but they do."

Residents on the estate, which was built in the 1950s and was once owned by Coventry City Council but is now full of homeowners under the right-to-buy scheme, had warned of the disaster but derived no pleasure from saying: we told you so.

Two petitions to the council, the airport's owners, in the past two years have complained of night flights, noise and low flying. Most residents tell of being able to see the pilots. "I often wondered if I should invite them in to tea," one said.

"We always said it was only a matter of time before it happened," said Mr Chesworth, who was one of many people from the estate who attended a protest meeting in Baginton village hall during the summer.

"A lot of people are going to be worried every time a plane goes over. It's going to be awful," he added.

Evelyn Davis, 60, who lives five doors from the wood where the aircraft crashed, was in her garden when the accident occurred.

"It was upside down as it went over. I could see the tail and engines," she said. "I complained about this aircraft two weeks ago. I said it was flying too low. I said two years ago that this should be stopped."

Mrs Davis assembled 500 signatures in protest against noise from the airport in 1992 and has been a leading figure in the row over flights involving the export of calves.

Her husband, Daniel, a 67-year-old retired building worker, rushed to the scene while Mrs Davis called the emergency services.

"Around the engines was on fire. There were people trying to see if anybody was alive but I was worried that it would explode. We will be frightened every time we see a plane. We are going to be a bag of nerves."

John Reeve, 59, a former Jaguar worker who, coincidentally, has the same name as Baginton airport's manager, said he would like to move after being constantly woken up by night flights.

But, like many residents, he has found he is unable to sell his house. "Things like this are bound to happen. I know you have to have airports but I want to get out of this area," he said.

Residents complain that extra business for the airport following a new contract with the Post Office and the recent launch of the veal flights to the Netherlands has meant more disturbance.

Brian Clack, leader of Coventry City Council, maintained the airport, one of the country's largest for cargo, had a good safety record. The last accident was in 1987 when a Meteor aircraft crashed during an air display.

He said he hoped the official inquiry would be swift. "What is important to me is the question of the flight path and how safe it is and whether it could be made safer."

The crash coincided with a planned demonstration outside the council offices by members of Coventry Animal Alliance, who have been staging a daily vigil outside the airport.

Helen, one of those present, said: "People have said it's justice. We just want it to stop, but we do not want anybody to have been hurt. People have been coming up to us as if we are responsible and are saying, `are you satisfied now?' We do not want toharm humans at all."

(Photographs and graphic omitted)

News
Alan Bennett criticised the lack of fairness in British society encapsulated by the private school system
peopleBut he does like Stewart Lee
Sport
David Moyes and Louis van Gaal
football
Arts and Entertainment
Sheridan Smith as Cilla Black and Ed Stoppard as her manager Brian Epstein
tvCilla Episode 2 review: Grit under the glamour in part two of biopic series starring Sheridan Smith
News
i100
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Life and Style
Vote with your wallet: the app can help shoppers feel more informed about items on sale
lifeNew app reveals political leanings of food companies
Arts and Entertainment
The cover of Dark Side of the Moon
musicCan 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition? See for yourself
Sport
New Zealand fly-half Aaron Cruden pictured in The Zookeeper's Son on a late-night drinking session
rugby
Arts and Entertainment
Worldwide ticket sales for The Lion King musical surpassed $6.2bn ($3.8bn) this summer
tvMusical is biggest grossing show or film in history
Voices
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
voicesMaybe the new app will make it more normal to reach out to strangers
Arts and Entertainment
Salmond told a Scottish television chat show in 2001that he would also sit in front of a mirror and say things like,
tvCelebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Life and Style
food + drink
News
Rob Merrick's Lobby Journalists were playing Ed Balls' Labour Party MPs. The match is an annual event which takes place ahead of the opening of the party conference
newsRob Merrick insistes 'Ed will be hurting much more than me'
News
A cabin crew member photographed the devastation after one flight
news
Life and Style
Carol O'Brien, whose son Rob suffered many years of depression
healthOne mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
Life and Style
The Google Doodle celebrating the start of the first day of autumn, 2014.
tech
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Pharmaceutical Computer System Validation Specialist

£300 - £350 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Pharmaceutical Computer ...

High Level Teaching Assistant (HTLA)

£70 - £90 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Higher Level Teaching Assist...

Teaching Assistant

£50 - £80 per day: Randstad Education Birmingham: Randstad Education is the UK...

Senior Java Developer - API's / Webservices - XML, XSLT

£400 - £450 Per Day: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: Our client is currently ...

Day In a Page

Secret politics of the weekly shop

The politics of the weekly shop

New app reveals political leanings of food companies
Beam me up, Scottie!

Beam me up, Scottie!

Celebrity Trekkies from Alex Salmond to Barack Obama
Beware Wet Paint: The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition

Beware Wet Paint

The ICA's latest ambitious exhibition
Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Pink Floyd have produced some of rock's greatest ever album covers

Can 'The Endless River' carry on the tradition?
Sanctuary for the suicidal

Sanctuary for the suicidal

One mother's story of how London charity Maytree helped her son with his depression
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits