Author Topic: The human cost of early aviation  (Read 1116 times)

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Online Pete

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The human cost of early aviation
« on: March 30, 2012, 12:10:46 pm »
In a Times article 17 June 1929 it is reported that so far in 1929 there had been 13 fatal crashes in the RAF killing 18 people, in 1928 at total of 76 were killed in RAF crashes.
Sussex Bonfire - a way of life, not just for Nov 5th

Offline Craggs

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Re: The human cost of early aviation
« Reply #1 on: September 01, 2015, 17:26:37 pm »
( John - I hope you don't mind me posting this - it is just outside our 'area' - Bournemouth)

The earliest newspaper reference that I can find detailing aeroplane crashes is from July 1910.  It is just outside our 'area' but gives some entertaining details which the reader may find interesting and is part of our Country's history that a lot may not know.

This edition of The Cheltenham Chronicle gives details of the first Englishman killed whilst flying - he was The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls  (27 August 1877 – 12 July 1910) and probably better known to us all as the partner of Henry Royce.  As a pair they went on to make quite famous motor cars !

The Rt Hon C.S. Rolls was not only good with cars but also a pioneer aviator and met his death , aged 32 , just outside Bournemouth when the tail fell off his "Wright Flyer" and he crashed to the ground.

The newspaper article is very long ( most of the front page of an 'old fashioned' broadsheet newspaper )....  so I will reproduce only the first section and the last section of the article.
                                          _________________________________________________
                                                   
Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 16 July 1910

TRAGEDY OF THE AIR.    RT. HON. C.S. ROLLS KILLED

The Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls , third son of Lord and Lady Llangattock, is the first English victim that has been added to the aviation death roll.
Whilst taking part in the alighting competition at the Bournemouth meeting on Tuesday , in the presence of hundreds of spectators ,  something went wrong with his aeroplane when about a hundred feet from the ground, and with tragic suddenness the machine and pilot came crashing to the ground.  Mr Rolls died almost immediately , a dislocated neck being the direct cause.
The Hon C.S. Rolls is the seventh airman to be killed this year.             

He was the first owner of a Wright Aeroplane in England and learned to fly with ease.     .............................

FIRST ENGLISH VICTIM.  The Hon C. S. Rolls is the first Englishman to sacrifice his life in the practice of the new science of flight.  The list of killed is as follows :

Lieutenant Selfridge (Passenger with Orville Wright in California) September 11th 1908.

M. Lefebvre (Rheims) September 7th 1909.

Captain Ferber (Boulogne)   September 22nd 1909.

Senor Fernandez (Nice)  December 6th 1909.

M. Delagrange (Bordeaux)  January 4th 1910.

M. Le Blon  (San Sabastien)  April 2nd 1910.

M. Hauvette-Mitchelin  (Lyon)  May 13th 1910.

Herr Robl  (Stettin)  June 19th 1910.

Charles Watchter  (Rheims)  July 3rd 1910

Hon. C. S. Rolls  (Bournemouth)  July 12th 1910

It will be noticed that despite the great advances made in flying in the past six months , six of the ten airmen killed have been killed in that period.
                                                   ______________________________________

I'll see what I can find for Kent and Sussex.   


Offline Craggs

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Re: The human cost of early aviation
« Reply #2 on: January 31, 2016, 07:27:04 am »
The best candidate for the earliest "Sussex" air crash fatality has been posted.  It isn't verified as the definitive 'earliest' but you can, if you wish, view the post  "........and was this the first fatal crash"  by Pomme Homme

Offline pomme homme

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Re: The human cost of early aviation
« Reply #3 on: October 21, 2022, 17:12:50 pm »
Whilst Charles Rolls was the only fatality at the week long 1910 Bournemouth Flying Meeting (the location was then in Hampshire), his was not the only serious accident. Rolls crashed and died on 12 July, the second day of the meeting. Two days later, on 14 July, Captain (presumably Toby Alfred) Rawlinson was seriously injured when the port wing of his Farman aeroplane caught the ground, whilst flying low, causing it to slew to port and hit the ground, removing its undercarriage. The next day, 15 July, another Farman aeroplane suffered the same fate - and its pilot, Joseph Christiaens, was badly injured - when its undercarriage snagged a ditch on take off from a field of barley in which he had made a forced landing. Then on 16 July the Hon. Alan Boyle crashed his Avis monoplane in a field of clover, being thrown out as the aeroplane overturned. He might have been Britain's second powered flying fatality but for the padded leather helmet he was wearing, which had been given to him by Léon Morane, although he still suffered severe concussion. All three men enjoyed each others' company as patients in the nearby Boscombe Hospital by the end of the week. These were not the only accidents suffered during the Flying Meeting at Bournemouth in 1910 but, fortunately, the other accidents did not involve a 'human cost' element. 

Offline alkhamhills

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Re: The human cost of early aviation
« Reply #4 on: October 21, 2022, 20:30:02 pm »
Honourable Charles Stewart Rolls

Probate. Of South Lodge, Rutland Gate, Middx. Doed 16.6.1910 at Bournemouth. Admin to Rt Hon John Allan, Baron Llangattock. Effects £30995

Offline pomme homme

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Re: The human cost of early aviation
« Reply #5 on: October 22, 2022, 17:17:21 pm »
To return to the subject matter of Pete's initial post, in 1911 the Automobil-Welt recorded the number of pilot's certificates issued, by country, and from amongst those the number of deaths, from flying accidents, in the period to 31 October of that year. The figures were as follows:

France - 500 certificates & 27 deaths
United Kingdom - 110 certificates & 9 deaths
USA - 35 certificates & 12 deaths

Curiously, whilst the number of certificates issued in Germany, Russia and Italy (135, 55 and 45 respectively) are given, no figures for flying fatalities in these countries are. I assume that this was not intended to indicate that there were none in these countries.

Offline pomme homme

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Re: The human cost of early aviation
« Reply #6 on: November 22, 2022, 15:04:56 pm »
Quote
ACCIDENTS IN 1911

Seven British pilots had been killed in accidents during 1911. Five of them had very little experience, two, indeed, being pupils under instruction who had not yet taken their certificates, and, of these five, one met his death whilst flying as a passenger, two stalled on gliding turns, one side-slipped into the ground, and the remaining one misjudged a dive and hit the earth before he could pull out. Of the two experienced pilots, one side-slipped into the ground through taking liberties with a machine to which he was unaccustomed, and the other broke an aircraft in the air by violent handling.

Quote
ACCIDENTS IN 1912

The year had been a black one, indeed, so far as accidents were involved.

The R.F.C. alone had lost six officers  and one N.C.O. pilot in four crashes.

There had been eleven fatal accidents altogether, in which no less than fourteen pilots had paid the extreme penalty. It is probable, however, that the increase in the number of hours flown was almost proportionate to the increased death-roll, which was exactly double that for 1911.

The alarming feature of the accidents of 1912 lay in the fact that the pilots of the wrecked aircraft were all, with one exception, experienced men, and that in five cases deaths were brought about by failure of machines in the air. All the aeroplanes which broke up or failed to respond to their controls were monoplanes, and they comprised two Martin-Handasydes, an experimental Mersey, a Deperdussin, and a Bristol. These accidents accounted for seven of the deaths.

Of the other fatal smashes two were due to pilots stalling whilst gliding, two to side-slipping out of tight turns performed too close to the ground, one to the pilot taking off with a failing engine, and one machine was lost at sea.

Quote
ACCIDENTS IN 1913

There had been twelve accidents involving loss of life during the year as against eleven in 1911. This was a very great improvement considering the fact that a much larger number of hours had been flown during 1913. Only four machines had broken in the air and killed their pilots, as against five in the preceding year. Of these, two were Cody biplanes, one was a Bristol monoplane, and one was a B.E.2. In the last mentioned case it was clearly established that the failure was the result of a bad repair and not due to faulty design or construction.

An analysis of the eight remaining accidents shows that two were due to taking off with failing engines, two to pilots over-banking and side-slipping into the ground, one to a pilot stalling on a gliding turn, one was caused by a pilot slipping out of his seat and jamming the controls on a steep glide, another by sheer reckless stunting and the last was due to the victim being struck by an air-screw on the ground.

In one case the pilot was a pupil who had not then qualified for his certificate.

This is not a bad record for a year's hard flying, including, as it does, not merely civilian accidents, but the results of Service smashes as well.

Quote
ACCIDENTS IN 1914

There had been twelve fatal accidents to British pilots in the first seven months of the year, involving the deaths of thirteen pilots, and three unqualified passengers. Two of the pilots did not hold aviator's certificates, one of them being killed whilst actually flying in his qualifying tests.

These accidents were due to a strange variety of causes. In three cases the pilots stalled their machines, and in one of them the aircraft, a Short seaplane, broke up in the air during the resultant dive. Two of the three B.E.2's that were wrecked broke up in flight, and the other one hit a hedge in dense fog. One accident was attributed to a misunderstanding between an instructor and his pupil as to the operation of the dual controls, and another was apparently caused by the pilot losing consciousness in the air. In the remaining four cases, one pilot simply fell out of his machine during a steep gliding turn, another was lost at sea, two aeroplanes were wrecked in a collision in the air, and the cause of the smash in the Argentine was never explained satisfactorily.

This was a black record, for more people had been killed in seven months than in the whole of the previous year, although there had been no commensurable increase in the number of hours flown. In fact, the marked decline in tuition probably indicated that actually rather less flying had been done throughout the country than during the hectic days of 1913. Moreover, the time had passed when it was reasonable to expect that three Service aircraft should break up in the air within such a short period. These smashes point unmistakably to faulty maintenance in the R.F.C..

History of British Aviation 1908 - 1914, R. Dallas Brett (1933)