Accident Bristol Biplane Type T 51,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 217825
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Date:Tuesday 1 August 1911
Type:Bristol Biplane Type T
Owner/operator:Gerald Francis Napier
Registration: 51
MSN: 51
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Brooklands Aerodrome, Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:Brooklands Aerodrome, Weybridge, Surrey
Destination airport:Brooklands Aerodrome, Weybridge, Surrey
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
On 1.8.1911 Bristol Biplane Type T No. 51, piloted by Gerald Napier Overbanked and side slipped into the ground, at Brooklands Aerodrome, Brooklands, Weybridge, Surrey. Pilot Gerald Francis Napier (aged 19) was killed, his passenger - Edwin Laurie - was thrown clear and survived.

Biplane Type T No. 51 was one of four aircraft (after the prototype No.45) that were built for 1911 Daily Mail Circuit of Britain Air Race. (22 July-5 August 1911) with Race Numbers 15, 16,17 and 19. These differed from the design of No. 45 in having a modified nacelle and rudders placed further out, away from the slipstream of the engine.

No. 51 was to be flown by Graham Gilmour in the race (Race Number 15) but he was unable to compete because his licence had been suspended. After the race the aircraft was fitted with a 50 hp Gnome and sold to Gerald Napier but on 1 August 1911 it crashed at Brooklands, killing Napier.

According to a contemporary newspaper report ("Dundee Evening Telegraph" - Wednesday 02 August 1911)

Is Killed at Brooklands.

Mr Gerald Napier, a young Englishman, was killed at Brooklands last evening. He was carrying a passenger in his Bristol biplane, when a gust of wind caught the machine while it was descending and dashed it to the ground. His passenger sustained a severe shock.

Napier had completed several circuits of the aerodrome without mishap, and then prepared to descend. A sudden gust tilted the machine to an acute angle. It became unmanageable, and striking the aerodrome was utterly wrecked. The engine struck the airman, and his neck was broken, death being practically instantaneous.

The body of Mr Gerald Napier (22), son of Mrs Robert Napier, of Knightsbridge, remains at the Aerodrome at Brooklands pending the Coroner's inquiry into the cause of his death.

It appears he was attempting volplane with a passenger when the machine, caught a gust of wind, tilted and fell from a height of forty feet. The engine became detached, and struck Mr Napier, who was also injured by a skid wire, both his neck and back being broken.

His companion, Mr Edwin Laurie, living at Earl's Court, was thrown clear. He was unconscious for some time, but recovered later, and spent the night in the emergency hospital on the ground. Mr Laurie remembers nothing of the accident. He escaped with bruises and a severe shaking. Though not at all strong, the wind was gusty at the time of the accident."

It appears that this incident was not only the first ever fatal flying accident at Brooklands, but the first ever fatal flying accident in whole of the county of Surrey.


1. The Fatal Accident At Brooklands". News. The Times (39654). London. 3 August 1911. col A, p. 4.
2. Barnes, C.H. Bristol Aircraft Since 1910, p. 59
3. Howard Pixton: Test Pilot and Pioneer Aviator By Stella Pixton
4. Dundee Evening Telegraph - Wednesday 02 August 1911

Revision history:

14-Nov-2018 22:50 Dr.John Smith Added
19-Nov-2018 20:39 Dr.John Smith Updated [Date, Location]
19-Nov-2018 20:41 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
22-Feb-2020 22:36 Dr. John Smith Updated [Date, Source, Narrative]
22-Feb-2020 22:37 Dr. John Smith Updated [Narrative]
20-Jul-2020 23:12 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]

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