The sound of aircraft passing overhead is just part of the background hum to the residents of south Manchester. Stopfordians are accustomed to the drone of aircraft powering back as they make their final approach into Manchester International Airport, just a few miles outside the town. It’s part of everyday life in these neighborhoods, and there’s rarely an issue. But on June 4, 1967, 72 passengers on a British Midland Canadair C-4 Argonaut on an early flight from Palma de Mallorca didn’t get to go home after their holiday.
Engine failure caused by fuel problems brought the plane down at 10:09 a.m. at Hope’s Carr south of Stockport town center. Of the 84 passengers and crew, only 12 were successfully helped from the wreckage by brave locals before the plane caught aflame, preventing further rescues. The incident remains the fourth-worst crash in U.K. aviation history.
It took until 1998 for the tragedy to be appropriately commemorated. First, a modest plaque with a granite base marked where the accident occurred. Over time further additions made the memorial site evermore fitting to the gravity of the disaster. An additional plaque was placed in 2002 that acknowledged the actions of the locals who aided the rescue efforts. Finally, in 2017 at the 50th anniversary, the memorial expanded to give more information about the accident and the names of those who perished.
The monuments stand on a discrete corner about half a mile from the town’s main thoroughfares. One has to go out of one’s way to see them. That’s the thing with bad luck and tragedy; it happens anywhere, anytime. And that’s why we sometimes need to make the time to go, look, and remember.