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All bodies recovered from Hercules crash

ALL nine bodies of the RAF crewmen who died when their C130 Hercules aircraft crashed in a remote Perthshire glen on Thursday during a low-flying exercise have now been recovered, writes Bill Caven.

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Tayside police said yesterday that the remaining four bodies have now been accounted for and removed from the crash site at the foot of Beinn a' Ghlo, just north of Blair Atholl.

They were immediately transported to the mortuary at Dundee Royal Infirmary to join the five other bodies taken there earlier. Those who died were three pilots, two navigators, two engineers, and two from logistics sections.

Police said: ''The remaining four bodies were recovered late yesterday afternoon and have since been removed from the crash site to Dundee.''

Photographers and identification branch officers from Tayside police have also now completed their work at the crash scene. Forensic scientists from the police laboratory at Dundee are also involved.

However, poor weather and visibility around the 3675ft hill, which overlooks Loch Loch, continued seriously to hamper yesterday's investigation to determine the cause of the accident.

Specialists from the RAF board of inquiry team have now been joined by air accident investigators from the Department of Trade, based in Farnborough, to find out what happened on the flight.

The Hercules transport plane had been flying from RAF Lyneham in Wiltshire to RAF Lossiemouth in Grampian when it came down.

A number of theories are currently being explored by the experts, whose task is also being hindered by the fact that the aircraft was not equipped with a ''black box'', which records all flight details.

The possibilities include pilot error, a mass bird strike, freak gust of wind, or a control system failure, which would cause a sudden dip.

A spokesman for the Ministry of Defence in London refused to be drawn yesterday on the theories, commenting: ''The inquiry is continuing and it is likely to do so for some time yet until they are satisfied that all the questions have been sufficiently answered.''

As police and RAF personnel maintained their 24-hour guard around the wreckage, it was revealed that a number of witnesses have been interviewed by police.

Tayside Chief Superintendent Jim Mackay, who is in charge of the police operation, appealed for any other members of the public with information surrounding the accident to come forward.

Squadron Leader Stanley Muir, who was killed in the Hercules crash, was a dedicated flier, his sister, Mrs Elizabeth Peacock, said last night.

''That was his whole life. It was the job he had always wanted to do,'' she said at her home at Balerno, Midlothian.

Her brother had spent 31 years in the RAF after joining at 18. As a pupil at George Heriot's School, he joined the RAF Cadets.

Mrs Peacock said that her brother had flown all over the world and was involved in the Gulf war, dropping supplies to the Kurds.

Squadron Leader Muir, 49, a navigator, is survived by his wife Maureen and daughters Katherine, 23, and Fiona, 22. Their home is near the RAF base at Lyneham.

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