Service held to mark 30 years since RAF Chinook crash

RAF Chinook ZD576 crash site
All 29 people people on board RAF Chinook ZD576 died on 2 June 1994 [PA Media]

A service has been held to remember the 29 people killed in an RAF Chinook helicopter crash on the 30th anniversary of the disaster.

The helicopter carrying leading security personnel crashed on the Mull of Kintyre peninsula on the west coast of Scotland on 2 June 1994.

The aircraft was on its way from RAF Aldergrove near Belfast to a security conference in Inverness when it crashed into a hillside in thick fog.

The incident was the worst RAF peacetime disaster and the reasons for the crash remain unclear.

Rev Roddy McNidder, who was the parish minister at the time of the crash, delivered the sermon at Southend Parish Church and described the 25 passengers and four crew who died as "extraordinary people who were selflessly devoted to duty in the service of their country".

During the service, he said: "Our service this early afternoon continues our promise that we care.

"This church is here for you and your families and loved ones, to remember, to honour their memory and their service.

"To bring the gift of encouragement, sensitively and graciously, and to hold fast the standards and principles they represented."

The crash came just two months before the 1994 IRA ceasefire in Northern Ireland.

Passengers on RAF Chinook ZD576 included leading security personnel from the Royal Ulster Constabulary (RUC), MI5 and the Army.

The pilots, flight lieutenants Jonathan Tapper and Richard Cook, were initially accused of gross negligence over the crash.

A Scottish fatal accident inquiry (FAI) concluded it was impossible to establish the exact cause of the crash and in 2011 the pilots were exonerated.

Families of those killed previously said they had been “failed” by the Ministry of Defence who did not organise a 30th anniversary memorial.

The MoD said it was a “tragic accident" and said it does not fund new memorials.

'What might have been'

A special act of remembrance is being held at a memorial cairn at the crash site on Sunday afternoon.

Mr McNidder added: ""Each name inscribed on this cairn and which shines out every time the sun reflects upon it, calls us to remember the unique person whose name is written there, and to acknowledge our memories, experiences and encounters with them, along with the hopes of what might have been over these 30 years, and years still to come."