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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 18700
Last updated: 15 March 2020
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Date:24-DEC-1924
Time:12:00 LT
Type:De Havilland DH.34B
Owner/operator:Imperial Airways
Registration: G-EBBX
C/n / msn: 36
Fatalities:Fatalities: 8 / Occupants: 8
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Castle Hill, Purley, Surrey -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:International Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Croydon Airport, Croydon, Surrey (EGCR)
Destination airport:Le Bourget, Paris (LBG/LFPB)
Narrative:
On 24.12.24, the aircraft took off from Croydon Airport on a scheduled international passenger flight to Le Bourget Airport, Paris. Witnesses described the aircraft as flying low over Purley before nosediving to the ground, and overturning. The crash was followed by an explosion and fire.

The crash site was 1 1⁄2 miles (2.4 km) from Croydon Airport, at Castle Hill, Purley, where the Kingsdown housing estate was then under construction.

Attempts to rescue those on board were made, but the intensity of the fire made this task impossible. A witness stated that he thought the accident was unsurvivable. It was only after the local fire brigade had extinguished the fire that the bodies of the victims could be extricated from the wreckage. The accident was the first fatal accident suffered by Imperial Airways. The aircraft was insured with the British Aviation Insurance Group. A successful claim was made by Imperial Airways following the loss of the aircraft.

This accident was the first fatal accident suffered by Imperial Airways and led to the first public inquiry into a civil aviation accident in the United Kingdom. As a result of issues brought up during the Public Inquiry, Croydon Airport was expanded, absorbing most of Beddington Aerodrome. The eight persons who were killed in this accident were named as:

David Arthur Stewart (34) killed (pilot)
Mrs Annie Chaffey Bailey (64) killed
Dr Plinio Barbosa Lima (32) killed (Brazilian national)
Maurice Edward Luxemburg (18) killed
Archibald John Sproston (39) killed
George Sproston (76) killed
Marie Sproston (21) killed
Cedric Trudgett (21) killed (Chilean national)

Flight magazine published, in full, the report into the crash in its issue of 12 February 1925. It summarises the conclusions of the chairman and assessors as follows:

'1. No official of the Air Ministry, or of Imperial Airways Ltd., was in any way negligent in the discharge of his duties in relation to the aircraft G-EBBX.
2. Capt. Stewart was a skilful and experienced pilot, and no blame is attributable to him.
3. The dive to earth was due to loss of control combined with a stall, which occurred whilst the pilot was endeavouring to make a forced landing in circumstances of great difficulty.
4. The flight of the aircraft for about half the time it was in the air was normal. Thereafter some defect developed, but whether in the engine or its installation, or otherwise in the aircraft, there is nothing to show.
5. The aerodrome at Croydon is unsatisfactory. This was not the primary cause of the accident, and I do not say more than that it may have been a contributory cause.
6. The total weight of the aircraft on its last flight was less by about 40 lb. than the maximum authorised.
7. The Air Ministry should consider the question whether any and what limit should be fixed for the angle of climb, as also for the stalling speed, of aircraft carrying passengers.
8. Every endeavour should be made to free aircraft carrying passengers from the danger of loss of control associated with stalling.'

Sources:

1. Western Mail - Saturday 27 December 1924
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/1924_Imperial_Airways_de_Havilland_DH.34_crash
3. https://cwsprduksumbraco.blob.core.windows.net/g-info/HistoricalLedger/G-EBBX.pdf
4. Flight magazine 12 February 1925: https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1925/1925
5. National Archives (PRO Kew) File AVIA 5/6/C83: http://discovery.nationalarchives.gov.uk/details/r/C6576551
6. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1925.htm
7. https://londonist.com/london/history/a-fatal-air-crash-near-croydon
8. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=15371.0


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
17-May-2008 11:10 ASN archive Added
13-Dec-2009 05:41 Anon. Updated
19-Apr-2012 00:25 ryan Updated [Location, Nature, Source, Narrative]
13-Dec-2013 23:47 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
06-Jul-2017 17:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
18-Dec-2017 12:03 Iceman 29 Updated [Source]
28-Feb-2020 23:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
28-Feb-2020 23:24 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time]
28-Feb-2020 23:26 Dr. John Smith Updated [Embed code]

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