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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 209539
Last updated: 20 September 2019
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Type:Abbots-Baynes Scud Mk I Glider
Owner/operator:Captain Thomas Eaton Lander
Registration: BGA.300?
C/n / msn: 1
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Faulkners End Farm, Roundwood Lane, Harpenden, Hertfordshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Faulkners End Farm, Harpenden, Hertfordshire
Destination airport:
Abbots-Baynes Scud Mk.I glider owned by Dr H. Allan: Written off 8/3/31 when dived into the ground on winch launch at Faulkners End Farm, Roundwood Lane, Harpenden, Hertfordshire. Scud Iís were very tricky to fly Ė downright dangerous would be more accurate! Pilot (and sole occupant) - Thomas Eaton Lander (aged 37) - was killed in what was the first fatal gliding accident in Hertfordshire. Itís believed the fatality occurred whilst experiments were being carried out with winch launching methods. According to a contemporary newspaper report (Hertfordshire Advertiser - 13th March 1931 - see link #3):

"Harpenden Glider Tragedy
Captain Thomas Eaton Lander,
Harpenden glider pioneer

In 1931 Harpenden was the scene of the first gliding fatality in this country. It happened at Faulkner's End on March 8th when Captain Thomas Eaton Lander, of the Old Rectory, Luton Road, crashed from a height of 40 feet, from which he sustained a fractured skull, and despite treatment from his friends, died a few minutes later.

Several witnesses gave evidence. A group of friends met at Captain Lander's house in the morning, and then went to Faulkner's End. They took a gliding machine with them, named "Scud". It was smaller and 100 lbs lighter than the gliders they were used to. Captain Lander had never flown this model before.

They were testing an experimental way of launching, designed mainly by Captain Lander. Previously launching had been done with a manually operated winch, but they were using a car, which they had bought in January and adapted for the purpose.

A winding drum was fixed to the driving shaft of the car with a 100 yard length of steel cable attached to it. The cable went from the side of the car to a wheel pegged into the ground about 40 yards away. It went around the wheel at right angles, and was attached to the glider. They had laid a short runway of timber, to make take-off as easy as possible. The wind speed was about 25 miles an hour, and the glider pointed to fly directly into it.

When all preparations had been made, Captain Lander raised his arm to signal that he was ready. Mr Elliot, who was operating the car, set the engine to three quarters of its maximum revolution, and gradually let out the clutch. "The result was very unexpected" he said. "The glider left the ground, climbing rapidly, and reached a height of about 40 feet in less than a second. I realised that the speed must be much too fast, and immediately depressed the clutch. The cable sagged at once, and the ring grip disconnected from the nose (of the glider). It then dived almost vertically into the ground"

After several more witnesses had given evidence, the Coroner, Mr T Ottaway, in returning a verdict of "Death from miadventure" said that it appeared that the whole problem arose because they had not calculated the probable speed that the motor car engine would provide accurately enough, coupled with the fact that they were using a lighter glider than usual.

Expressing sympathy with the widow and children of a "gallant gentleman" he added that although it was of small consolation, he felt that a life had not been given in vain, if in the march of progress and science, discoveries for the benefit of mankind had been made."

According to some published sources, the glider involved was either the prototype - or a very early production - Abbots-Baynes Scud Mk.I Glider, of which only 12 were built.


1. Hertforshire Advertiser 13 March 1931
4. Flight Magazine, March 19, 1931 page 226:
7. [LINK NOT WORKING ANYMORE:] & Glider 1930 - 1955/Volume 1 No. 27 Mar 13 1931.pdf
9. Newcastle Morning Herald and Miners' Advocate (Newcastle, NSW) Tue 10 Mar 1931 Page 5:

Revision history:

18-Apr-2018 23:36 Dr. John Smith Added
18-Apr-2018 23:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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