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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 25239
Last updated: 31 October 2019
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Date:25-JAN-1921
Time:14:33 LT
Type:Airco DH.4A
Owner/operator:Syndicat National pour l'Etude du Transport Aérienne
Registration: O-BAIN
C/n / msn: H5915
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:near the 'Valiant Sailor' Public House, Hope Farm, Folkestone, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Cargo
Departure airport:Croydon Airport, Croydon, Surrey (EGCR)
Destination airport:Brussels South Charleroi Airport (CRL/EBCI)
Narrative:
Ex-RAF H5915, first registered in Belgium as O-BAIN 21st August 1920 to Syndicat National pour l'Etude du Transport Aérienne

On 25th January 1921 the Airco DH.4, registered as O-BAIN, crashed on the hill between Hope Farm and the "Valiant Sailor" public house, on the Dover Road at Folkestone, Kent. The aircraft had taken off from Croydon at 13.43 with Mons. P.J.George at the controls, destination Brussels with just cargo onboard. Fifty minutes after taking off, the machine was seen flying through thick mist over the high ground to the North East of Folkestone. While making a turn the aircraft struck the ground and was completely wrecked. The pilot was dragged from the wreckage but unfortunately died in hospital three days later.

The Investigation Report for the incident says that the cargo was a mere 8.5lbs in weight and 150lbs of ballast. Mons.George was a very experienced pilot and had flown that type of aircraft on the same route many times before. O-BAIN was seen approaching the Dover-Folkestone road from the west and was dimly seen passing just over the roof of a farmhouse. It then turned to starboard, towards rising ground, and crashed in a field 546 feet above sea level. Just before impact it was noted that the engine appeared to be running satisfactorily.

Examination of the wrecked Airco showed that the starboard plane had struck the ground first, an interplane and part of the bottom wing tip being embedded in the earth. From that point to where the main wreckage lay, a distance of 90 yards, the collapse of the parts of the machine could be traced from the marks on the ground. The entire fuselage was shattered as far back as the passengers cabin. All control cables were found to be intact and in serviceable condition. The accident was blamed on poor visibility.

Additional - per a contemporary press report ("Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald" - Saturday 05 February 1921) on the inquest into the the death of the pilot:

"BELGIAN AIRMAN'S DEATH
ACCIDENT DUE TO FOG

On Tuesday the Borough Coroner (Mr. G. W. Haines) resumed the adjourned inquest touching the death of Prosper Joseph George, the Belgian aviator, whose machine crashed to the ground on the hills, whilst in thick fog between the Valiant Sailor and Hope Farm, on Tuesday afternoon of last week. The airman received serious injuries from which died at the Royal Victoria Hospital early on the 28th January.

Mr. Ernest Sidney Hambrook, of Hope Farm, Hawkinge, said on Tuesday the 25th January about 2.30, he was in the garden at Hope Farm. A very thick fog prevailed at the time. He heard an aeroplane pass directly over the house. It was very low down. It was proceeding slowly in an easterly direction, but afterwards seemed to be circling round. When it had gone about three-quarters of a circle he heard a crash. He rushed to the spot whence the sound proceeded, and between the farm and the Valiant Sailor about a hundred yards from witness's houses, in a field, he saw a smashed up machine. The wings were piled up on top of the engine and the wreckage extended for about a hundred yards behind the machine. There were deep ridges in the ground along the sides of the wreckage. Witness saw a man lying along the fuselage. He was quite free and conscious. Witness spoke to him, and he mentioned that his arm was broken, and also uttered the word "Mist," at the same time waving his other arm about. The man pointed towards the engine, and said something that witness did not understand. Witness fetched his mother, who remained with the man while he went tor help. Witness telephoned at the Valiant Sailor to the police and for an ambulance and returned with Mr. Aird. The marks on the ground showed a distinct curve, and as the machine was circling in the air at the time, witness was of opinion that it was not the intention of the deceased to effect a landing there. The letters O.B.A.I.N. were on the under part of the plane.

Mr. Alfred Chas. Aird, of the valiant Sailor, stated that on Tuesday, about 2.30, the last fitness informed him that an accident had occurred to an aeroplane. Witness went across to Gorse Field, and there saw the wreckage of an aeroplane on the ground. There were curved marks on the ground leading to where the plane was lying. He saw a man lying on the ground immediately to the fore part of the machine, the engine being about a yard further on. Mrs. Hambrook was attending to the man, and witness assisted in putting him in the ambulance. The following morning he was attendance with Major Phill, of the Air Ministry. He made a thorough examination of the engine, which appeared to be in perfect order, excepting the damage caused by the fall. He gave witness to understand that in cases where an airman struck a bank of fog he was instructed to get under or over it. He thought in this case the deceased was attempting to get under it. Major Phill also thought the control was in good order, and that the engines had not been shut off. The propeller was smashed up. Major Phill expressed the opinion that the accident was due to the fog and in no way to the machine, which was in proper working order. The machine had the name of the owners on its side.

Monsieur Adolphe Peterson (Belgian Vice Consul at Folkestone), said he saw deceased at the Royal Victoria Hospital on Thursday and had a conversation with him. Deceased told him he remembered little about the accident, but he did know that he suddenly got in a very thick fog. That was the only reason he could give for the accident. He left Croydon en route for Brussels at 1.40 on Tuesday. He had had considerable experience as an aviator, and was chosen to test all aeroplanes on their first flight.

Mr. Aird said that close to where the deceased struck was a bank, close to which was a hollow extending over a considerable area.

The Coroner found deceased died from injuries accidentally received whilst in charge of an aeroplane belonging to a Belgian syndicate, the machine having collided with the ground.

The remains of the deceased, after being embalmed, were enclosed in a lead coffin, the outer casket being of oak with brass fittings. The inscription on the plate was as follows:- "Prosper George. Décédé le 28 Janvier, 1921. A C'age de 28 ans."

The body was conveyed on Wednesday via Ostend to Brussels for interment, Mr. Douglas Spain (Messrs Prebble and Spain) having charge of the arrangements.

Sources:

1. www.bamfbamrs.be/Dillien/O-B.doc
2. http://www.airhistory.org.uk/gy/reg_O-B.html
3. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1925.htm
4. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_incidents_involving_airliners_in_the_United_Kingdom
5. https://www.baaa-acro.com/crash/crash-de-havilland-dh4-folkestone-1-killed
6. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=2436.0;wap2


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
08-Oct-2011 12:27 ThW Updated [Operator, Source, Damage, Narrative]
08-Oct-2011 12:29 ThW Updated [Operator, Source, Narrative]
18-Dec-2013 21:15 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
05-Sep-2017 19:18 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Cn, Operator, Location, Narrative]
07-May-2018 17:54 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type, Source, Narrative]

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