Accident Avro 504K G-AACW,
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 27503
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Date:Sunday 25 January 1931
Type:Silhouette image of generic A504 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Avro 504K
Owner/operator:Home Counties Aircraft Service Ltd
Registration: G-AACW
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Horley, Surrey, 1/4 mile from Gatwick -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Gatwick, West Sussex
Destination airport:
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
First registered 9.11.28 as G-AACW to Dominion Aircraft Ltd. Thence to Southern Aircraft Ltd., Shoreham, Sussex. Re-registered 3.11.30 to Home Counties Aircraft Service Ltd., Gatwick

On the afternoon of Sunday, 25.1.31, Avro 504K G-AACW crashed at Horley, Surrey, about 1/4 mile from Gatwick aerodrome, killing the pilot and both passengers. The aeroplane was a wartime machine originally manufactured under licence by G.Parnell & Coy Ltd, and had been completely rebuilt by Southern Aircraft Ltd in the spring of 1929.

At the time of the last flight the aeroplane was not equipped with dual control, a false floor having been fitted over the control column socket and the rudder bar of the rear cockpit.

The pilot, Mr. W J Martin, had started to learn to fly at Shoreham in February 1929, and made his first solo flight in June 1930, at which time he had received about 12 hours dual instruction. He qualified for his private licence five weeks later. Up to the day of the accident his total solo flying time was nearly 200 hours. Martin was not very experienced in aerobatics, although a few days before the accident a friend had demonstrated to him how to execute slow rolls.

The first 10 minutes or so of the flight were occupied in carrying out a demonstration in which a number of machines took part and during which nothing in the nature of aerobatics was attempted. Instead of landing at the conclusion of this demonstration, the pilot climbed to a height between 1,500 and 2,000 feet, and then executed a manoeuver which, to all expert witnesses, appeared to be an abortive attempt to roll and which developed into a spinning nosedive.

Twice during its descent, G-AACW ceased to spin and momentarily assumed a straight gliding altitude, only to start spinning in the opposite direction. No one actually witnessed the crash, but the aeroplane had not recovered from the spin when it disappeared below the tree tops.

The investigation report stated that the accident was due to the pilot stalling the aeroplane in an inverted attitude and subsequently failing to make proper use of the controls to effect recovery from the ensuing spin. The two passengers who died were named as Mr. S.J.W. Meathrel and Mr. L.H. Irving-Bell (Ground Engineer).

Registration G-AACW cancelled by the Air Ministry by/on 31.7.31



Revision history:

27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
03-Nov-2012 17:05 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Source, Damage, Narrative]
02-Nov-2017 22:37 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Damage, Narrative]
02-Nov-2017 22:38 Dr. John Smith Updated [Aircraft type]

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