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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 208330
Last updated: 29 January 2021
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Time:16:20 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic DH82 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
De Havilland DH.82 Tiger Moth
Owner/operator:20 Elementary & Reserve Flying Training School Royal Air Force (20 E&RFTS RAF)
Registration: N5487
C/n / msn: 3760
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:1
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Cobham Woods,near Gravesend, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Gravesend Airport, Gravesend, Kent
Destination airport:
DH.82 Tiger Moth N5487, 20 E&RFTS, Gravesend Airport, Gravesend, Kent: Written off (destroyed) 12/5/39 in a midair collision with Tiger Moth N6451 during blind-flying practice, Cobham Woods, near Gravesend, Kent. One of the two crew was killed:

Flying Officer John Fyrley Spanton (instructor, aged 28) killed
Midshipman (Air) Colin Gerald Shaw Hodgkinson (pupil pilot under training) injured

Collision took place at 800 feet. Although Colin Hodgkinson survived, his legs were so severely damaged that they had to be amputated. (see link #2, which is the autobiography of the survivor, Colin Hodgkinson (1920-1996) published in 1957). According to Colin Hodgkinson's wikipedia entry (see link #5)

"Hodgkinson carried out training aboard the aircraft carrier HMS Courageous in the De Havilland Tiger Moth. He had completed some 20 hours of flying, including solo flights.

On 12 May 1939 he was practising blind flying at RAF Gravesend, with a hood over his head. At an altitude of 800 feet his Tiger Moth struck another aircraft and plummeted to the ground. The crash killed his 28 year old trainer, Flying Officer John Fyrley Spanton, and seriously injured Hodgkinson. He was rushed to hospital, where his right leg was amputated above the knee and his left leg below the knee. He was transferred to the Royal Naval Hospital in Chatham to recover. During this period he was introduced to Archibald McIndoe, who convinced him to join the "Guinea Pig Club" and have plastic surgery on his burned face.

By Christmas 1940, just over a year after his accident, he was walking on artificial limbs to such a standard that he was allowed back into the air. He subsequently joined the Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve and went on numerous flights, including as a rear gunner on a bomber."


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft L1000-N9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1983)
2. Best Foot Forward: The Autobiography of the RAF's Other Legless Fighter Pilot By Colin Hodgkinson (1957), Odhams Publishing, ISBN 0552106879 - avaiable on line at

Related books:

Revision history:

27-Mar-2018 22:53 Dr. John Smith Added
27-Mar-2018 23:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
20-Nov-2018 15:10 Nepa Updated [Operator, Nature, Operator]

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