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Narrative:16.5.1914: Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2a 331, 2 Squadron, Royal Flying Corps, Montrose. Written off (destroyed) when hit hedge in fog and overturned in a field at Oak Tree Farm, Lovesome Hill, Hutton Bonville, near Northallerton, North Yorkshire.
|Date:||Friday 15 May 1914|
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c
|Owner/operator:||2 Sqn RFC|
|Fatalities:||Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2|
|Aircraft damage:|| Written off (damaged beyond repair)|
|Location:||Oak Tree Farm, Lovesome Hill, near Northallerton, North Yorkshire -
|Phase:|| En route|
|Departure airport:||RFC Seaton Carew, Hartlepool, County Durham|
|Destination airport:||York Racecourse, Knavesmire, York, North Yorkshire|
|Confidence Rating:|| Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources|
In May 1914, when the squadron was transferring south from Montrose, five aircraft crashed when they hit a bank of fog just south of the River Tees. Six of the aircraft had to land, with five of them crash landing, resulting in many injuries and two deaths (a Lieutenant and a First Class Mechanic) in a field near Hutton Bonville in the North Riding of Yorkshire. They were flying in stages from their base in Montrose, Scotland, to Salisbury Plain. The flight on May 16, 1914, was from Seaton Carew to the racecourse on the Knavesmire, at York. Both crew members - Lt John Empson (pilot, 4th Royal Fusiliers, aged 23) and Air Mech Reginald George Cudmore (aged 21) - were killed. According to a contemporary report of the Coroners Inquest into the death of the two crew, as reported in Flight magazine (May 22, 1914 page 553 see link #1):
"The Catastrophe at Northallerton.
THE accident which occurred at Northallerton on Friday of last week, in which Lieut. John Empson and Air-Mechanic George Cudmore, of No. 2 Squadron Military Wing R.F.C., was the subject of a coroner's inquest at Lovesome Hill, Northallerton, on Saturday.
Major C. J. Burke, in command of No. 2 Squadron, said they left Montrose on Monday morning, and everything went well until leaving Seaton Carew on Friday morning. It was perfectly clear when the witness left Seaton Carew. He could not say when Lieut. Empson left. The machines were always examined and overhauled before a flight. Lieut. Empson was perfectly competent.
The witness went north as soon as he left Seaton Carew, as he saw fog and mist arising when five miles out. They had general instructions to follow to the effect that in the event of fog no landing had to be effected on the landing ground.
The Coroner said he thought the instructions might be made a little more explicit. If the airmen saw fog arising, could they not descend where it was clear?
Major Burke replied that this would be impossible, as the fogs moved about, the air being clear at one moment and dense at the next. From his investigation, it was clear that the machine overturned on its back after striking a hedge. He believed the two men were 'vol planing' very fast at the time.
Dr. Tweedy stated that when he saw Lieut. Empson he was dead, being inside the wreckage on his back with his knees drawn up. His head was severely crushed, and he had received internal injuries. Death was instantaneous. Dr. Carter stated that the base of Cudmore's skull was fractured and he had internal injuries, either of which would have caused
The jury returned a verdict of "Accidental death," and expressed sympathy with the relatives."
Six weeks before the Sarajevo incident, which precipitated World War One, there was no prospect of war on the horizon but as life expectancy for a WW1 airman was only 3 months, it was viewed as certain that Lt. Empson would have died in the war, had he survived this accident
2. Flight Magazine (May 22, 1914 page 553): https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1914/1914%20-%200553.html
9. Lloyd, Chris: "Death in the fog". Darlington & Stockton Times 16 May 1914. p. 61. ISSN 2040-3933.
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||Updated [Date, Photo]|