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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 193577
Last updated: 3 April 2021
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Date:25-MAY-1824
Time:
Type:Silhouette image of generic BALL model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
"Royal George" Gas Balloon
Owner/operator:Thomas Harris
Registration: Unregistered
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Beddington Park, Carshalton, near Croydon, Surrey -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Private
Departure airport:Vauxhall, Southwark, London
Destination airport:Beddington Park, Carshalton, near Croydon, Surrey
Narrative:
Thomas Harris died while flying the balloon "Royal George" from Vauxhall, London, on 25 May 1824. An account of his death is given by L. T. C. Rolt, who states that it is likely that as gas gradually escaped from the balloon, the cord connecting the gas discharge valve to the gondola tightened, releasing the gas. In the resulting crash Harris was killed, and his travelling companion, an eighteen-year-old woman named Sophia Stocks "from the Haymarket", was badly injured.

From Vauxhall, the wind had carried the balloon towards Croydon, where it crashed into an oak tree at Beddington Park near Carshalton. The accident was later blamed on Harris's own valve. The crash was observed by a gamekeeper, who gave evidence at the inquest:

He heard a report resembling distant thunder, and on looking up at the instant in the direction of the sound, saw the balloon descending with great velocity, striking the branch of a tree in its descent; and on proceeding to assist the sufferers, he found the Female almost in a state of insensibility, and Mr. Harris quite dead in the bottom of the car, with a black mark upon his neck.

Harris's companion, Miss Sophia Stocks, was described by journalists present as an intrepid girl and was reported to have got into the balloon's gondola "with but slight appearance of fear".

The coroner's jury brought in the finding that "death might have been occasioned by the broken ribs, &c."

According to a less plausible theory of the cause of the crash, the release valve got stuck in the open position, thus releasing the hydrogen. In an attempt to prevent the balloon falling, Harris threw out all the ballast and even the woman's clothes. In the end, he jumped to his death, making the balloon light enough to save his companion's life

Sources:

1. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1916.htm
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Thomas_Harris_(aviator)#Death
3. Warwick William Wroth, Cremorne and the later London gardens (1907), pp. 57-58
4. Aerostation: Death of Mr. Harris', in The Literary Gazette: a weekly journal, vol. 8, p. 362
5. http://images.sciencesource.com/preview/15139372/BY2764.html


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
13-Feb-2017 23:27 Dr.John Smith Added

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