top of page
  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Chinook: Zulu Delta 576 - the tragic story of the helicopter crash on a remote hillside on the Mull of Kintyre

Lighthouse on the Mull of Kintrye, Scotland

Lighthouse on the Mull of Kintrye, Scotland


In an instant, some of the most senior members of the UK’s intelligence services in Northern Ireland were killed in a helicopter crash on a remote hillside on the Mull of Kintyre, Scotland.


At the time, Northern Ireland was experiencing one of its most violent periods with atrocities such as Greysteel and the Shankill bomb pushing community relations to the brink.



Behind the scenes there was also an undercover ‘intelligence war’ involving a close-knit group of key personnel from the security services. As well as intelligence gathering, those involved were also playing a key part in the tentative steps of a fledgling peace process.


A cairn on the Mull of Kintyre

A cairn on the Mull of Kintyre


The Chinook helicopter disaster on June 2 1994 killed 29 people – 10 RUC, nine army, five MI5, one civil servant and four crew. What happened, its circumstances and effects have been much debated. And it remains a continuing source of heartache for the families of those who lost their lives.


A new two-part series from Fine Point Films, directed by Trevor Birney, for the BBC looks back at the events of that fateful day featuring accounts from relatives and colleagues of some of those on board.


Chinook: Zulu Delta 576, explores how the tragedy sent shockwaves through the security services in Northern Ireland. And it documents the pilots’ families fight for justice following the controversial verdict delivered by the two senior Air Marshals into the cause of the crash – which claimed that it was due to the gross negligence of the two elite Special Forces pilots.



Susan Phoenix, wife of Detective Superintendent Ian Phoenix, one of those killed in the tragedy

Susan Phoenix, wife of Detective Superintendent Ian Phoenix, one of those killed in the tragedy

Niven, son of Detective Superintendent Ian Phoenix

Niven, son of Detective Superintendent Ian Phoenix


The official conclusion was never accepted by the families of Flight Lieutenant Richard (Rick) Cook and John Tapper. Their search for the truth, and campaign to exonerate the names and reputations of their loved ones went on for 16 years.


The series features exclusive interviews with relatives of some of those on board and includes first-hand accounts from members of the team who investigated the crash and journalists who reported it at the time – and everything that followed.



Detective Superintendent Ian Phoenix was one of those killed. His wife Susan and son Niven remember a loving husband and father and tell how their lives were changed and how they dealt with the aftermath of the crash.


General Sir Christopher Deverell

General Sir Christopher Deverell


It also includes General Sir Christopher Deverell, the son of John Deverell, the then Director and Controller of Intelligence (DCI) for MI5 in Northern Ireland about his father’s role in the peace process in Northern Ireland.


The second episode of the series looks at how the two elite Special Forces pilots were accused of causing the crash – some believing that it was a cover up, a case of ‘dead men don’t talk’.


Christopher Cook

Christopher Cook


Christopher Cook, the brother of Rick Cook, recalls how he learned of the crash and how his father began working tirelessly to clear his dead son’s name.


Retired RAF Chinook expert, Squadron Leader Robert Burke, talks about the concerns he had about the safety of the new updated Mark 2 Chinook. And the film also reveals how documents at the time also suggested that the Chinooks shouldn’t have been allowed to fly at all.



Retired RAF Chinook expert, Squadron Leader Robert Burke

Retired RAF Chinook expert, Squadron Leader Robert Burke


Tony Cable, from the Air Accident Investigation Branch, was one of the first investigators sent to establish what went wrong. He gives an insight into his findings about the crash as well as his opinion on the initial verdict and the apportioning of blame to the pilots.


The film also includes an interview with former UK Defence Secretary (1992-1995) Sir Malcolm Rifkind, who talks about the Government’s involvement in the investigation.





Chinook: Zulu Delta 576 starts on BBC iPlayer & BBC One Northern Ireland at 10.40pm on Monday 29 January and on BBC Scotland on Tuesday 30 January at 10pm.

Comentarios


bottom of page