A veteran parish councillor has been remembering a grim youthful experience - as the 50th anniversary approaches of a horrific plane fire that claimed five lives.

The tragedy happened on April 8, 1968 when a Boeing 707 bound for Sydney caught fire soon after taking off from Heathrow - causing the burning engine to break away from its mounting and fall into a gravel pit in Thorpe, narrowly missing children playing there.

The plane was able to make an emergency landing back at Heathrow but five died in the fire that broke out - one of them brave air stewardess Barbara Jane Harrison who received the posthumous George Cross. Two other air crew were also honoured.

Cllr Ewan Larcombe, who is a veteran parish councillor for Datchet and Wraysbury, was a youthful plane spotter. He still remembers watching appalled from Staines Road in Wraysbury shortly before 4.30pm that day.

He said: "I witnessed the plume of flame from the engine and also the cowling glinting in the sunlight as it fell. I did not see the engine fall off but I did see the Boeing 707 dropping back down towards the runway with the whole side of the plane alight and the flames extending beyond the tail. As the plane descended further my view of the plane itself was blocked by the distant reservoir embankment but an enormous column of black smoke then rose steadily from the airport. At the time I had feelings of disbelief, of horror and helplessness. Now I am simply left with two indelible mental images."