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English Channel between Hardelot, France & Hendon Aerodrome, London -
Hendon Aerodrome, London
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Narrative: Gustav Wilhelm Hamel (25 June 1889 – missing 23 May 1914) was a pioneer British aviator. He was prominent in the early history of aviation in Britain, and in particular that of Hendon airfield, where Claude Graham-White was energetically developing and promoting flying.
Hamel died before reaching the age of 25. He disappeared over the English Channel on 23 May 1914 while returning from Villacoublay on a new 80 hp Gnome Monosoupape engined Morane-Saulnier monoplane he had just collected, and was to compete with in the Aerial Derby the same day. He was last sighted at 3pm on May 23 1914 flying over Calais, France, and heading out to sea. The flight was expected to last twenty five minutes, but there was a strong westerly wind blowing which may have blown Gustav Hamel off course. When Gustav Hamel failed to arrive at Hendon, the alarm was raised, and a search was initiated from Dover. The search was abandoned after 48 hours, after nothing was found, and Gustav Hamel was presumed lost.
On 6 July 1914 the crew of a fishing vessel found a body in the Channel off Boulogne. Although they did not retrieve the body, their description of items of clothing and of finding a road map of southern England on the corpse provided strong circumstantial evidence that the body was Hamel's.
At this time of high international tension, there was speculation that he might have been the victim of sabotage, but no trace of the aircraft was ever found and the story faded with his memory.