22 May 1917 – Accidents will happen

As has been the case throughout the war so far, accidents continue to claim plenty of victims.

Yesterday Captain John Wilson Tailford MC was serving as an instructor with 13 Reserve Squadron at Dover. He was instructing Lieutenant Eric Hughes in a BE2c (1320) when the aircraft turned at 350ft and then suddenly nosedived into the ground.

There was some disagreement between witnesses as to exactly what happened. Captain Eric Buxton stated:

“After a steeply banked left turn, I saw the machine commence another left-hand turn at a height of 350 ft. The turn developed into a nose-dive, and the machine spinning, with the engine full on, hit the ground…The first turn was very steep, almost ninety degrees. He then got back to the level position and commenced to climb slightly. He then commenced the second turn towards the left, and banked at almost as steep an angle as the first one. I can not imagine that the deceased would have done a “stunt” turn like this to instruct a pupil.”

Second Lieutenant Reginald Stanley Twigg stated:

“I watched the machine descending from 800 ft., with the engine throttled down, in a left-hand spiral, in quite a safe attitude. On coming out of the first left-hand spiral the machine at once commenced to turn to the right without sufficient bank, and too flat an angle, which caused the machine to fall to earth in a spinning nose-dive.“

Buxton noted that when a machine was doing evolutions, even flying officers gave different accounts of what occurred. A steep right-hand turn looked like a left-hand loop. No doubt both officers were stating accurately what they thought they saw, but one of them was wrong. The engine was of a type that when running at half-power would sound to one not acquainted as if running at full speed. But that had no effect on the accident. His own view was that the accident was due to the machine losing the necessary amount of forward speed, together with an insufficient amount of bank.

Buxton further stated:

“I immediately ran towards the spot, 600 yards from where I had been standing, and was the second to arrive on the scene of the accident. I at once saw that the pilot was killed, and attempted to release the pupil. After seven or eight minutes, we succeeded in getting the pupil out. An ambulance then arrived, and the deceased and the wounded man were removed. “

Another similar occurred today at the same aerodrome when 1st Class Air Mechanic Percy Henry O’Lieff was test flying a Avro 504 (A491) when a badly running engine caused him to lose flying speed. He landed heavily and the aircraft caught fire. O’Lieff was lucky to escape with minor injuries.

008F9C43-084F-4108-9C91-95CD9AB53A6F-12169-000008D6B58D8CBBAlso today, 2nd Lieutenants Cyril Frederick Crapp and William John Douglas Vince from 78 Squadron were both killed when Vince’s BE12a (A602) collided with Crapp’s BE12 (6581) during formation flying practice over Hove.

The leader of the squadron of four said they were flying in diamond formation at a height of 4500 feet when he gave the order for the formation to break up. During this manoeuvre, Crapp crashed into Vince. It appears they were both blinded by the sun. One of the machines appeared to buckle up immediately and fell to the ground at Marine Park, Aldrington and the other plane continued its flight for a few seconds and then exploded – the machine then nose-dived towards the beach at Hove.


3 thoughts on “22 May 1917 – Accidents will happen

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