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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 218364
Last updated: 5 December 2019
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Date:06-JUN-1914
Time:day
Type:Wight Navyplane
Owner/operator:Naval Wg RFC
Registration: 128
C/n / msn:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Solent Estuary, off Calshot, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RNAS Calshot, Hampshire
Destination airport:RNAS Calshot, Hampshire
Narrative:
4.6.1914: Wight 1914 Navyplane 128, Naval Wing, Royal Flying Corps, Calshot. Written off (destroyed) when dived into the Solent near Calshot, Hampshire. The aircraft entered a dive from which it was unable to recover, hitting the water vertically at high speed. A witness, C. Gordon Bell, attested to the fact that the left wing started to break up before the aircraft hit the water.

Both crew - Lt Thomas Scholes Creswell, RMLI (aged 27) and Commander Arthur Rice (aged 30) - were killed. A verdict of 'accidental death from drowning' was recorded. According to the memorial table (erected at St. John The Baptist Church in Wimbledon, London) this incident was the first ever fatal accident involving a naval seaplane.

According to a contemporary report in Flight magazine (12 June 1914 page 637 - see link #2)

"THE SEAPLANE DISASTER.
IT is with the greatest regret that we have to record the disaster to the Navy seaplane No.128 near Calshot, on Thursday of last week, by which Lieut. T. S. Creswell and Commander A. Rice lost their lives.

In connection with the accident, an inquest on the body of Lieut. Creswell was held on Saturday at R.N. Hospital, Haslar, by Mr. L. Warner, coroner for S. Hants. Staff-Surgeon E. D. Rutherford said the body when brought into the hospital he was fully clothed, but the clothing was very much torn.

There was extensive scalding of the shoulders, back, and both sides. There was a puncture wound on the left thigh, which might have been caused by a sharp piece of metal or wood. The cause of death was drowning, the scalding not being sufficient to cause death

Lieut.-Commander Longmore, in command of Calshot air station, said that he had flown in the machine on the day of the accident, while Lieut. Creswell had made five short passenger flights previous to starting on the ill-fated one. The conditions for flying were good. Two hours after the accident, with the aid of derricks of the Trinity House steamer, the wreckage was hoisted sufficiently to allow of the removal of deceased's body. He was dead. Nothing was seen of the body of Commander Rice. The wreckage was towed ashore at Calshot. Practically the whole of the machine was there, but was much damaged.

Mr C. Gordon Bell, who was in a motor boat with Lieut. Spenser Grey, R.N., said he saw the seaplane rise, and as it passed over them at a height of 200 ft. or 250 ft., Lieut. Creswell waved his hand to them. The seaplane then went some half to three-quarters of a mile further on, and turned to come back. Witness took his attention off the machine to watch another seaplane, but tuned back again to No. 128, and saw it at a height of 100 ft

Mr. H. W. S. Chilcott said that he saw as if to climb higher, for an instant, and then immediately commence a steady 'vol plane', which rapidly increased in steepness until it became a nose dive. The machine was then dropping towards the water vertically. At this moment, about 150 ft. from the water, approximately, the machine looked to be quite whole, but immediately after the left plane commenced to buckle up and quickly collapsed, but did not become detached from the remainder of the machine.

The inquest was then adjourned to Wednesday last, when Lieut.-Commander Longmore said that, owing to the extremely broken-up state of the wreckage, it was difficult to slate when the damage to the seaplane was done. No signs whatever could be found on any part of the machine of either an explosion or a fire.

The passenger and pilot seats were practically uninjured. The control wires, which would be in operation for an attempt to counteract the dive, were found to be intact. Of the two compressed air bottles fitted to the machine for starting the engine one was intact with gauge glass unbroken, and the other was lost. The latter's stowed position was immediately under the pilot's seat, and as this was uninjured it showed that it could not have exploded.

The breaking of the left wing was, he thought, due to excessive speed, he got into a vertical position, could not absolutely be ascertained. It was thought that the pilot was counteracting the effect of a light gust, which threw the nose of the machine up slightly, by a downward movement of his elevator, and that before he regained his normal level of flight the speed of the machine had increased to such an extent on its downward glide that the angle quickly increased until the machine was vertically nose down.

They did not come across any fault in construction which would point to the initial cause of the accident. The jury returned a verdict of accidental death from drowning. They and the Coroner expressed sympathy with the deceased relatives and comrades. Up to the Wednesday evening the body of Commander Rice had not been recovered."

Sources:

1. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1916.htm
2. https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1914/1914%20-%200637.html
3. https://www.iwm.org.uk/memorials/item/memorial/12356
4. https://www.crossandcockade.com/forum/forum_posts.asp?TID=1479&title=funeral-procession
5. http://britishaviation-ptp.com/early_aviators_401_450.html
6. https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/38307-churchill-as-pilot/?tab=comments#comment-313178
7. https://gracesguide.co.uk/Arthur_Rice
8. http://www.thepeerage.com/p39409.htm
9. http://www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/hancrash.html

Wight Pusher Seaplane 1914 Wight Navyplane Olympia in March 1914

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
22-Nov-2018 21:30 Dr.John Smith Added
22-Nov-2018 21:39 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Phase, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
22-Nov-2018 21:39 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
27-Jan-2019 08:06 stehlik49 Updated [Time, Operator]

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