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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 210786
Last updated: 1 December 2021
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Date:29-OCT-1931
Time:day
Type:Armstrong Whitworth Siskin Mk IIIA
Owner/operator:25 Squadron Royal Air Force (25 Sqn RAF)
Registration: J8881
MSN:
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Caesar's Camp, near Hawkinge, Folkestone, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Nature:Military
Departure airport:RAF Hawkinge, Folkestone, Kent
Destination airport:RAF Hawkinge, Folkestone, Kent
Narrative:
Armstrong-Whitworth Siskin Mk.IIIA J8881, 25 Squadron, RAF Hawkinge: Written off (destroyed) 29/10/31 when went out of control on approach and spun into the ground at Caesar's Camp, near Hawkinge, Folkestone, Kent (at approximate co ordinates: 51.09854N 1.16078E). Pilot and sole occupant - 2nd Lt Aat Sucharitkul (Siamese national aged 21) - was killed

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald" - Saturday 31 October 1931

"AIR PILOT'S FATAL SPIN.
Crash on Caesar's Camp.
Shortly after taking part in a mimic air battle near Folkestone on Thursday morning a Royal Air Force single seater fighter machine flown by 2nd Lieut. Suchritkul, of the Royal Siamese Air Force, attached to the 25th Squadron, R.A.F. crashed on the eastern side of Caesar's Camp, and the pilot was killed.

Deceased, who was 21, had been attached to the Royal Air Force since September of last year, and joined the 25th Squadron at Hawkinge for training purposes in September of this year.

At an inquest held at the aerodrome at Hawkinge yesterday afternoon a verdict of "Death from Misadventure" was returned. The Deputy Coroner for East Kent (Mr. A. K. Mowll) sat with jury. Mr. R. W. Craig, Consul General for Siam in London, and Mr. Phra Bahiddha, first Secretary of the Siamese Legation, London, were present.

Flight Lieut. W. L. Swann, 25th Squadron. R.A.F., said the deceased was attached to the 25th Squadron, and had commenced flying at Hawkinge on September 16th, a few days after he arrived. According to the pilot's flying book the deceased commenced flying in this country with the Royal Air Force on September 1st, 1930. On October 2nd, he flew solo, and a few days later he was practising spinning. Up to December 10th, 1912 (sic) he had done 44 hours on an instructional machine. In a report at that time his commanding officer said he was inclined to be over-confident.

"INCLINED TO BE CARELESS."
On April 7th, 1931, deceased changed over to a Siskin single seater fighter. Before coming to Hawkinge had had 11 hours 45 minutes dual, and 30 hours and 30 minutes solo. At his final passing out on August 20th at the school of instruction the remarks made under the heading of "Any special faults which must be watched," were:-

"Inclined to be careless particularly when taxiing. Landings are also inconsistent and should be closely watched." Those comments were made by the officer commanding the Sealand Flying School.

Deceased came to Hawkinge on September 14th, and he commenced flying on September 16th. He flew a Siskin with witness as instructor. He gave him one of his tests as taking the machine out of spins. This he did correctly.

The Coroner: How old was this Siskin machine?
Witness: It was received from the makers in May, 1930, after being re-conditioned. It was accepted by the Air Ministry from the makers on August 28th 1928.

What is the age of these Siskin machines?
It goes by hours. A machine is specially inspected after 360 hours flying. A machine is stripped down and inspected here after 120 hours flying. Continuing, witness said the machine had an 120 hours inspection on July 18th, 1931, and in August new planes were fitted by the makers. Witness air tested the machine on August 27th, and found everything all right. The machine had flown in all 344 hours, and 205 hours since being reconditioned.

ATTACKS ON ANOTHER 'PLANE.
On the last flight deceased was instructed to carry out camera-gun attacks against another machine. That would not include spinning. If deceased got into a spin he thought it was unintentional. Deceased left the aerodrome at 10.30 a.m. Shortly after he heard that he had crashed, and witness got into his own machine and flew over to the scene of the crash. The machine had crashed on the eastern side of Caesar's Camp.

Replying to Mr. Craig, witness said deceased had the makings of a good pilot.

Sergeant Pilot Harold W. Hobly, 25th Squadron, R.A.F., said he was on the aerodrome and watching the machine deceased was flying. He was up about 900 feet, flying straight and level and the engine was still going. Suddenly the machine started spinning to the right. There did not appear to be an attempt by the pilot to recover himself. The machine was still spinning when it disappeared from witness' view behind the hill. He thought that deceased was approaching the aerodrome to make a landing and for some reason unknown attempted to turn, and having insufficient speed to make a turn got into a spin.

Peter John Lilley, 239 Dover Road, a carpenter, said he was working in Crete Road when he saw a machine spinning towards the ground. He did not see the machine crash as it disappeared. It did about four turns as it spun down.

Charles Aindow, Coombe Cottage, Hawkinge, said the engine was going when the machine crashed.

Pilot-Sergeant D. E. Upton, 25th Squadron, said he was standing outside the pilot's room when he saw the dual machine which had been doing camera-gun practice with deceased coming in to land. The other machine (deceased's) was to the right of the dual, slightly behind and above it. Soon afterwards he saw the solo machine spinning and disappear over the brow of the hill.

L.A.C. L. J. Baker, a carpenter rigger, said he examined deceased's machine at 8.45 a.m. on the day of the accident and the machine was then in perfect condition. L.A.C. F. E. Spain, fitter, gave similar evidence in regard to the engine.

Squadron-Leader H. M. Probyn, officer commanding 25th Squadron, R.A.F., said he thought the deceased was coming in to land when he saw one or perhaps two other aircraft flying on the south side of the aerodrome when he was about to land.

"I know at the time another machine flown by 2nd Lieutenant Rossander was diving on to the ground target and turning to the left," added witness. "In order to avoid this aircraft I think the deceased turned away from the aerodrome and through an error of judgment lost flying speed and spun from a low altitude into the hillside."

By Mr. Craig: If deceased was up 700 feet when he got into a spin he would have thought he could have got out of it all right. It was his opinion the deceased was out of the spin before he struck the ground, and if he had had another 100 feet he thought he would have been all right.

Flight-Lieutenant Swann said he was present when the Air Ministry Inspector of Accidents went over the wrecked machine and the expert found that all the controls were intact. Flying-Officer O. M. Fraser, the medical officer of the squadron, gave evidence of identification.

The Coroner, summing up, said one was very anxious in a case of this kind that there should be nothing hidden from anyone. They deeply regretted the loss of this young life.

In recording their verdict the Jury expressed their sympathy with the deceased's relatives and the Coroner associated himself with this expression of sympathy."

J8881 was one of 42 Armstrong Whitworth Siskin Mk.IIIA (J8864-J8905) ordered from the Blackburn Aeroplane and Motor Co. Ltd., Olympia Works, Leeds, to contract 772529/27. As stated above, it was delivered to the RAF on 28/8/28.

Sources:

1. Royal Air Force Aircraft J1-J9999 (and WW1 Survivors) Dennis Thompson, Air Britain, 1987 p 95)
2. Folkestone, Hythe, Sandgate & Cheriton Herald - Saturday 31 October 1931
3. The Sphere - Saturday 14 November 1931
4. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1934.htm
5. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=13321.0
6. http://www.rafcommands.com/forum/showthread.php?17512-RAF-Fatalities-1931
7. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Folkestone_Castle
8. Malaya Tribune, 30 October 1931, Page 9 at http://eresources.nlb.gov.sg/newspapers/Digitised/Article/maltribune19311030-1.2.50 ...


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
12-May-2018 12:09 Dr. John Smith Added
08-Oct-2018 17:50 Nepa Updated [Operator, Destination airport, Operator]
18-Feb-2020 01:41 Dr. John Smith Updated [Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
18-Feb-2020 01:42 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
18-Feb-2020 01:42 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
18-Feb-2020 01:44 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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