Salvaged jet could yield clues to 10-year mystery

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The Independent Online
THE RECOVERY of most of a Cessna Citation jet from the sea off the Western Isles is expected to provide clues to a 10-year-old mystery.

The Cessna, owned by the late Michael Carlton, a multi-millionaire property and finance tycoon, was en route to his estate on Lewis for a shooting weekend when it crashed 10 years ago. It went down in almost perfect weather, disappearing off the radar screen an estimated 10 miles short of the Lewis coastline.

Among the 10 who died were Air Commodore John Parker, of the Royal Air Force, and Henri Gimbert, inspector general of the French Air Force, and their wives.

Mr Carlton had been scheduled to fly the Cessna Citation himself but made a last-minute decision to switch to another aircraft also carrying guests to the Garynahine Estate. The Cessna, which belonged to one of his companies, began its journey in Paris and refuelled at Liverpool.

The unexplained disaster, and Mr Carlton's subsequent death about two years later - his plane also crashed and disappeared during a trip abroad - have ensured that the episode remained shrouded in uncertainty.

A fishing trawler has salvaged about 60 per cent of the aircraft, 16 miles south of Stornoway, the main town on Lewis. An inspector from the Department of Transport's Air Investigations Branch is expected to begin examining the wreckage, which has been taken to a fabrication yard in Stornoway.

Although all the bodies were recovered after the crash, the aircraft was never found and no fatal accident inquiry, the equivalent in Scots law of an inquest, was ever held. An Air Accident Investigation team from the Civil Aviation Authority called off the search for the missing Cessna after four days.