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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 27092
Last updated: 17 April 2019
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Date:20-JUL-1944
Time:15:15 LT
Type:de Havilland DH.89 Dragon Rapide
Owner/operator:Guinea Airways Ltd
Registration: VH-UBN
C/n / msn: 6253
Fatalities:Fatalities: 7 / Occupants: 7
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Mount Kitchener, Barossa Valley, southeast of Tanunda, SA -   Australia
Phase: En route
Nature:Scheduled Passenger
Departure airport:Renmark, South Australia
Destination airport:Adelaide, South Australia
Narrative:
Registered G-ACPO [C of R 4957] 12.7.34 to Hillman's Airways Ltd, Stapleford, Essex. C of A 4390 issued 4.9.34; delivered 5.9.34. Registered 31.10.34 to unknown party [but probably De Havilland Aircraft Co Ltd for demonstrations to Highland Airways 9.11.34-4.12.34 – although actually delivered to Highland Airways on 19.11.34]. Registered [C of R 5480] 4.12.34 to Hillman's Airways Ltd.

Badly damaged when blown over in gales at Ronaldsway, Isle of Man 26.1.35; repaired. Merged into British Airways Ltd, Heston 1.12.35, but not used by them. Although registered to British Airways [CofR 6850] 24.3.36, actually transferred to Airwork Ltd, Heston 31.1.36 for sale. Registration cancelled 2.5.36 as sold.

CofA renewed 12.6.36 and flown to Australia. Registered VH-UBN [CofR 602] 17.8.36 to Rockhampton Aerial Services Ltd, Rockhampton. Registered 1.10.36 to Airlines of Australia Ltd, Sydney.

Impressed into RAAF as A33-5 on 9.8.40. To 3 EFTS, RAAF Essendon 12.8.40. To 1 AOS Cootamundra, 11.12.40. To DCA 16.4.42. Re-registered VH-UBN 15.4.42 to Commonwealth of Australia, Dept of Civil Aviation; operated by Guinea Airways Ltd, Adelaide.

Crashed 20.7.44: Mount Kitchener, Barossa Valley, southeast of Tanunda, South Australia. Had departed Renmark, South Australia at 1.42 pm in poor weather for Adelaide, pilot attempted to climb through cloud, struck ground and crashed at 3:15pm inverted near Tanunda, South Australia and burnt out. Captain Frank P. Gill and all six civilian passengers (including two pregnant women and a police constable) on board.

As there were no survivors, a true and accurate account of what happened that day will never be known. According to an official report compiled by Guinea Airways, it occurred as a result of poor judgement on the pilot’s behalf. Rescue efforts were slow, even though the crash was heard by nearby landholders. A search party was organised, but was hampered by the steep terrain and poor visibility. Next day, one of the searchers went to sit on a rock and found it was an engine, which had rolled down to the creek bed. The main fuselage and mortal remains were found further up the mountain side.

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("The Argus" Melbourne, Victoria, Wednesday, 2 August 1944, Page 3 - see link #10)

"PLANE CRASHED UPSIDE DOWN
ADELAIDE, Tues:
An open finding was returned by the coroner at Tanunda today, when the inquest into the death of Theodore Wilhelm Schwartzkopff, 48, carrier, of Renmark, one of the seven victims of the Guinea Airways plane crash at Mount Kitchener on July 20, was resumed.

It was stated for the first time that the plane was upside down and out of control when it crashed. This was the opinion of Arthur Frederickson, aircraft inspector, of South Terrace, Adelaide, who said that he had examined the wreckage of the plane on the side of Mount Kitchener on July 21. Experts agreed, he said, that after leaving Renmark early in the afternoon of July 20 the pilot had pursued "contact flight" (flying within sight of the ground) until it became no longer possible. He had then attempted to climb into the clouds, and in the course of his doing so the aircraft got out of control and crashed.

The witness added that the plane had evidently been flying in moisture and rain for a considerable period. This could have adversely affected the instruments, particularly the air-speed indicator. It was also possible that the blind flying instruments were rendered useless by freezing."

Such an impact has this event had on some of the locals, they found the exact impact location, confirmed using metal detectors to retrieve identifiable debris, and erected a cairn to mark its place 50 years later. Within the cairn are buried a bottle of 20- year-old Port, reports of the time, a letter naming those involved with its construction and a copy of the summary of the official incident report.

Wreckage located the following morning. Registration cancelled 20.7.44.

Sources:

1. https://www.ab-ix.co.uk/pdfs/dh89.pdf
2. https://cwsprduksumbraco.blob.core.windows.net/g-info/HistoricalLedger/G-ACPO.pdf
3. http://www.adf-serials.com.au/2a33.htm
4. http://www.goodall.com.au/australian-aviation/dh89/dh89.htm
5. http://www.baaa-acro.com/crash/crash-de-havilland-dh89-dragon-rapide-near-tanunda-7-killed
6. http://www.edcoatescollection.com/ac1/austu/VH-UBN.html
7. http://www.afleetingpeace.org/index.php/15-aeroplanes/84-register-australia
8. http://www.afleetingpeace.org/index.php/15-aeroplanes/77-register-gb-g-ac
9. https://www.geocaching.com/geocache/GC1EAKD_lost-in-the-fog?guid=8d7c70ce-0ded-46e2-98a8-cd81e24936f5
10. "The Argus" Melbourne, Victoria, Wednesday, 2 August 1944, Page 3): https://trove.nla.gov.au/newspaper/article/11354710

DH.89 VH-UBN parked at Archerfield, 1937: StateLibQld 1 116640 De Havilland DH89 biplane pictured outside a hangar at the airfield, Archerfield, ca. 1937

Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
12-Dec-2011 13:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Cn, Operator, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
10-Mar-2014 02:47 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
24-Dec-2017 00:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
20-Feb-2019 18:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Embed code]
20-Feb-2019 18:50 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Embed code, Narrative]
20-Feb-2019 18:51 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]

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