Some of the TCA offices at London Heathrow airport (LHR) were, during the '60s, located adjacent to the runway. One of the departments there was the P & S, at which I was an employee.
The 1st October, 1956, a dull and rainy one, with lowering clouds, we all heard two bangs, and wondered what they were. On looking out of the window, we saw a dark shadow pass by over the runway, and that was followed by a loud bang and a pall of black smoke started to rise. We all raced out of the office and around to the runway side of the next building and saw flames and wreckage strewn along the runway. This was the crash of the RAF Vulcan, a delta winged bomber which had just returned from an around the world demonstration flight. The two bangs were from the :Martin-Baker” seat ejection mechanism for the pilot and co-pilot of the aircraft. It seemed that the aircraft had touched down short of the runway and, in doing so, had destroyed most of the trailing ailerons thus losing control.
Just as we got to the scene, I looked up at a BEA aircraft which had been following the Vulcan, it had obviously been waved off and was disappearing into the low clouds. From the trajectory of the Vulcan, shown in the press the next day, after hitting the ground the aircraft rose up again and started to side slip towards our buildings before getting straight and hitting the runway. There was the usual controversy over the incident.
A high ranking officer, Sir Harry Broadhurst, was alleged to be at the controls - for prestige purposes - as there was an official welcoming committee awaiting the arrival of the Vulcan. Unfortunately, four civilian observers on board the aircraft perished in the crash, it seems that only the pilot and co-pilot positions are equipped with ejector seats.