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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 233144
Last updated: 5 June 2020
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Date:07-FEB-1927
Time:day
Type:Cierva C.6C Autogyro (Avro 574)
Owner/operator:The Cierva Autogyro Co Ltd
Registration: J8068
C/n / msn: 5114
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Substantial
Location:Hamble Airfield, Hamble-le-Rice, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Landing
Nature:Test
Departure airport:Farnborough Airfield, Farnborough, Hampshire
Destination airport:Hamble Airfield, Hamble, Hampshire
Narrative:
Cierva C.6C (Avro 574) ordered as J8068 against contract 680626/26 from A.V.Roe & Co Ltd (hence alternative designation of "Avro 574" as it was based around an Avro 504K fuselage) to Specification 3/26 with a 130 hp Clerget 9b engine. First flown 29 June 1926. Delivered to the RAE at Farnborough 30 June 1926. Displayed RAF Hendon "new types park" as No.16 on 3 July 1926.

Crashed on take off at Farnborough 25 September 1926. Rebuilt by manufacturers with modifications and upgrades (including stub wings and ailerons). First flown again after rebuild 3 January 1927. Returned to RAE Farnborough for further test flying.

Substantially damaged 7 February 1927 when shed two of the four rotor blades in flight and crashed on a flight from Farnborough to Hamble. According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Portsmouth Evening News - Wednesday 9 February 1927

"CRASH AT HAMBLE.
Captain F. T. Courtney Injured in Auto-Gyro’s Fall of 60ft.

Captain F. T. Courtney, the well-known test pilot, is in a Southampton nursing home, suffering from bruises and shock, after crashing from a height of 60 feet while testing a new auto-gyro windmill ’plane, built for the Air Ministry at the Hamble Aerodrome. The accident was due to the failure of one of the rotating wings, which broke as Captain Courtney was about to land after a trial flight. The ’plane did not stop revolving, but the machine descended vertically at an abnormal speed, and crashed on to a railway siding. Captain Courtney released himself from the wreckage, but immediately collapsed. The Auto-Gyro Company states that the mishap in no way affects the principle of the rotating wings planes."

As a result of the failure of two blades, Juan de la Cierva redesigned the rotor head, incorporating a vertical hinge at the junction between each rotor blade and the rotor hub. This allowed the blade to hold back and then pivot forward and thereby relieve the stress on the blade (which was the cause of the rotor failure in Capt. Courtney's accident). Learned opinion suggests that this was a fundamental progression toward the true helicopter.

PIlot - Francis T Courtney (born 6.8.1894) - survived with minor injuries as per the above. What happened after this incident is not yet clear. The Cierva C.6C autogyro J8068 was struck off charge, and presumably handed back to the manufacturers. According to some sources, was rebuilt (again) as a Cierva C.8R a.k.a. "Avro 587"). It was certainly civilian registered as G-EBTW (C of R 1474) on 9 September 1927 to the Cierva Autogyro Co Ltd., Aldwych, London WC.2 (although the registration document lists G-EBTW as a "Cierva C.6D" [sic])

The last record of the airframe is that the civil registration G-EBTW was cancelled on 9 January 1929 due to "destruction of permanent withdrawl from use of aircraft". Not clear if that was due to a later (as yet unknown) accident, or the airframe was simply withdrawn from use.

As for the pilot, it is known that he was still alive in 1939, aged 55, and living in Newport, Isle of Wight.

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft J1-J9999 (and WW1 Survivors) by Dennis Thompson (Air Britain, 1987 p 69)
2. Portsmouth Evening News - Wednesday 9 February 1927
3. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=7806.0
4. http://www.afleetingpeace.org/index.php/15-aeroplanes/82-register-gb-g-eb
5. http://www.delscope.co.uk/aviation/hamble.htm#CRA
6. http://www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/hancrash.html
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cierva_C.6
8. https://cwsprduksumbraco.blob.core.windows.net/g-info/HistoricalLedger/G-EBTW.pdf
9. http://www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/ah1900/avawprod.html
10. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cierva_C.8

Cierva C.6 in flight - possibly J8068 in 1926 (note RAF markings) but not confirmed: Bundesarchiv Bild 102-09500, Windmühlen-Aeroplan Cleaned'n'Cropped

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
21-Feb-2020 22:39 Dr. John Smith Added

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