Author Topic: Lee Annular Monoplane Nº 2 - crash, Shoreham, 26 April 1914  (Read 219 times)

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Online Pete

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Mr. Gordon Bell fell 100ft. at Shoreham on Sunday morning in Mr. Cedric Lee's  secret" aeroplane, which is circular in design. The machine appeared to sideslip and then dive to the ground. Mr. Bell was badly cut.

Monmouth Guardian 1 May 1914
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Offline pomme homme

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Re: Secret aircraft crashes
« Reply #1 on: June 23, 2020, 12:03:03 pm »
The 'secret aircraft' was the second Lee (or Lee-Richards) Annular Monoplane. Tim Webb & Dennis Bird, in their book on the history of Shoreham Airport, tell the tale of its demise as follows:

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On 10th April 1914, Gordon Bell made the first hop in the second annular monoplane, and then made a number of flights without incident. However a fortnight later disaster struck again [this is a reference to the crash of the first annular monoplane]. At around eight hundred feet he got into difficulties, and descended in a flat spin. As Charles Gates said, "he came down like a frisbee". The aircraft was a total write-off, but remarkably Bell survived. A later enquiry revealed that on of the elevator eye bolts had come out, jamming the elevators hard down. Fortunately for Bell the cushioning effect of the air fifty feet from the ground had freed the jammed elevator, and it righted itself before pancaking.

Lee produced a third annular monoplane. When that made a heavy landing, whilst being demonstrated to Winston Churchill at Shoreham, Bell reached the end of his tether. According to Webb & Bird:

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Bell then told Cedric Lee that he would not continue with test flying, and if he wanted to, he could fly the b..... thing himself!

Lee did, but lost control and pancaked into the mud of the adjacent River Adur (it must have been low tide). And whilst Webb and Bird say that ended the story of the annular monoplanes, this is correct only vis a vis the monoplanes. Half a century later a replica of the Lee-Richards Annular Biplane, the original of which dated from 1911 and was the predecessor to the three monoplanes, was built at Woodley (Reading) by Denton Partners for the 1965 film 'Those Magnificent Men in their Flying Machines'. It is currently on display in the museum at Sywell, Northamptonshire.