Accident Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c ,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 218605
This information is added by users of ASN. Neither ASN nor the Flight Safety Foundation are responsible for the completeness or correctness of this information. If you feel this information is incomplete or incorrect, you can submit corrected information.

Date:Monday 12 July 1915
Type:Silhouette image of generic be2 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c
Owner/operator:Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 2
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:RFC Shoreham, Lancing, West Sussex -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:RFC Shoreham, Lancing, Sussex
Destination airport:Farnborough Airfield, Farnborough, Hampshire
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
12.7.15: Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c, Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough. Written off (destroyed) when crashed after take-off and caught fire, RFC Shoreham, Sussex. Of the two persons on board, one - Henry Deakin Liley (aged 26) - was killed. The other - 2nd Lt Frank Widenham Goodden (pilot) - was injured. According to a pair of contemporary newspaper reports ("Birmingham Daily Gazette" - Tuesday 13 July 1915):

A flying fatality occurred last evening at the Shoreham Aerodrome. Mr. Henry D. Lilley, constructor, of Theobald, Hawkhurst, was taking a short flight in company with Pilot F. W. Gooden, of the Royal Flying Corps, when the machine was seen suddenly to fall from a height of 150 feet and burst into flames. Mr. Lilley was killed, but the pilot escaped with only slight injury, and was moved in a motor-car to the hospital.
The cause of the accident is not known".

...and ("Belfast News-Letter" - Thursday 15 July 1915):

Evidence at the Inquest.
A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned at an inquest held at Shoreham yesterday on Henry Deakin Lilley, aged 26, a civilian employed in aircraft work, who was killed while flying as a passenger at Shoreham on
Monday evening.

Lieutenant F. W. Gooden, who was piloting the machine at the time, was not well enough to give evidence; but the Coroner read a signed statement by him respecting the accident. In this Lieutenant Gooden stated that the wind was about 55 miles hour and gusty. The engine was working satisfactorily when started, and he climbed steadily to about 140 ft., when the motor suddenly stopped, and at the same moment a gust of wind lifted his right plane. Finding it impossible to right this tendency, he decided on a left turn, which entailed flying down into the wind. For a few moments the machine felt normal, but another gust of wind struck it, rendering it uncontrollable and causing it to dive nose foremost to the earth.

Other witnesses stated that the machine afterwards caught fire. Deceased was extensively burnt about the arms and legs, but death was due to fractured skull".

After flying from Farnborough, it would seem that the B.E.2c was at Shoreham by virtue of having made a precautionary landing in consequence of experiencing high wind on the morning of 12 July 1915. In the afternoon the wind abated and the weather improved. In consequence Goodden decided to take off and resume his journey. I have not determined to where that journey was intended to take him. Back to Farnborough, perhaps?

At the root of this crash was, I suggest, a breach of the cardinal rule that if a pilot experiences engine failure on take-off, without having achieved a significant height, he or she puts the aircraft's nose down, maintains flying speed and looks for a suitable location ahead on which to land into wind. Instead of obeying this rule Goodden, who had reached only about 150' when his engine failed, attempted to turn back to the aerodrome and make a downwind landing. Apparently he came back in over the hangars (thus, presumably, on the southern edge of the aerodrome). Presumably in order to clear those, he stretched his glide with a concomitant loss of flying speed. Thus whilst he just cleared the hangars, he stalled the aeroplane immediately beyond them. It dived in, the fuel tank split open and the B.E.2c took fire. Goodden managed to free himself and get out of the wreck. The body of Lilley, who had fractured his skull and died on impact, was consumed by the flames.


1. Western Mail - Tuesday 13 July 1915
2. Birmingham Daily Gazette - Tuesday 13 July 1915
3. Belfast News-Letter - Thursday 15 July 1915
4. Grinnell-Milne, Duncan (1966). Wind in the Wires. Mayflower. pp. 15–18.

Revision history:

26-Nov-2018 19:18 Dr.John Smith Added

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

The Aviation Safety Network is an exclusive service provided by:
Quick Links:

CONNECT WITH US: FSF on social media FSF Facebook FSF Twitter FSF Youtube FSF LinkedIn FSF Instagram

©2024 Flight Safety Foundation

1920 Ballenger Av, 4th Fl.
Alexandria, Virginia 22314