A DALES farmer haunted by a helicopter crash half a century ago in which four air crew died has paid a touching tribute in their memory.

Peter Fall and his brother John were among the first on the scene of the terrible crash in November 1970 when a search and rescue helicopter disintegrated in mid air and came plummeting from the sky ploughing into fields at their farm at Patrick Brompton, near Bedale.

The pilot, a Captain in the Canadian Air Force was killed alongside a master navigator and flight sergeant and a 21 year Pilot Officer in the Women's Royal Air Force.

All four who were on a training flight from RAF Leconfield in East Yorkshire were killed instantly, wreckage from the plane was scattered across a huge area.

To mark exactly 50 years since the devastating crash and in respect for those who lost their lives Peter and his daughter Lauren have laid a floral wreath on the site. Mr Fall said he has never forgotten the terrible events of that day, and even now comes across fragments of metal and debris from the crash while working on the farm.

He added: "It was a dark, foggy afternoon and my brother John was working outside. He heard a loud ''crack'' and then the engine developed a terrific whine. About four seconds later it came into view. It was falling straight down and disintegrating.

"John dialled 999 and we rushed down the field, not knowing it was a helicopter. Alas, nothing could be done. It was deathly silent and sadly all the crew had perished. Wreckage was scattered for a square mile, two of the rotors were found a mile away, the third had still been attached to the gear-box which had sheared off.

"A team worked for several days, meticulously removing every piece of wreckage. It was all taken away to Farnborough to try to find the cause. I have lived with that tragic day for 50 years and sadly now I'm the only one left."

Mr Fall, who organises the popular Barn that Rocks event in the Dales said he has been overwhelmed by the response after posting his tribute on social media. "I have been contacted by one of the Navigator's daughter's , Karen Hobbs from America. I find great comfort in the comments and support. I just wanted to pay my respects to the people who lost their lives and to their families. The poor girl who was an acting pilot officer was from Stirling in Scotland and I have been sent pictures of her grave.

"It has never left me, my wife Barbara made the wreath from foliage taken from our gardens. I have now heard from many who remember, I just hope it will help keep the memory alive of the human side of this terrible event long after I am gone."

An inquest was held in Bedale. Later investigations reported the helicopter had exploded in mid-air following loss of control in cloud. The pilot who was an exchange officer from the Canadian Armed Forces is said to have had limited experience of flying the Whirlwind by instrument in bad weather. The aircraft was reported to have climbed 5,000 feet into a layer of ice.