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VIDEO: 100 YEARS OF AIR CRASH INVESTIGATION ON THE ISLE OF WIGHT – CENTENARY OF REGULATION MARKED

S300 Air Navigation Investigation Of Accidents Regulations 1922 Title PageIsland Echo takes a look back at 100 years of air crashes on the Isle of Wight as the industry marks a century since the first regulations were issued to formalise the investigation of aircraft accidents on 28th June 1922.

100 years on from those first regulations, many of the original principles remain today in how aircraft accidents and serious incidents are investigated.

Back in 1922, the definition of an accident was one that involved death or personal injury whether in an aircraft or not, or the aircraft suffered structural damage. Over the years, the definition has been refined but remains fundamentally the same.

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The 1922 regulations did allow for a certain amount of blame and indicated that the accident could be solely caused by failure of the pilot, something that is now anathema to any air accident investigator. It was not until 1969 that the regulations defined that the full purpose of an accident investigation was to prevent future accidents and not to ascribe blame.

The first air crash on the Isle of Wight to be investigated after the regulations were introduced was that of a Felixstowe F2A, which took off from Somerton Airfield in Cowes on 12th December 1923. The first casualty from an air accident to be investigated came on 17th August 1926 when a Blackburn Dart crashed on the downs near Shalcombe, leading to the death of the pilot 26-year-old Lt Llewellyn-Rees.

Bldart
A Blackburn Dart

World War II saw a total of 66 air crashes on the Island: 47 from the allied side and 19 from the Luftwaffe. 1940 – the year of the Battle of Britain – saw the greatest number of aircraft downed with 32 planes lost.

The worst air accident in the history of the Isle of Wight was on 15th November 1957 when an Aquila Airways Short Solent 3 hit Shalcombe Down with the loss of 45 lives. 13 survivors were pulled from the wreckage of the stricken plane by soldiers on night exercise. At the time, this was the worst ever air disaster on English soil.

The air accident investigation concluded that the essential cause of the plane crash remains unknown.

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The next major air disaster to have occurred on the Island was the loss of a Dakota 3 in thick fog on St Boniface Down on 6th May 1962.

2 air accidents have led to loss of life in the present century.

On 5th August 2007, a Piper-PA-28-i40 crashed into a cornfield half a mile from Sandown Airport, leading to the death of all 4 occupants of the plane. The aircraft burst into flames and despite the efforts of fire crews from the nearby airport, nothing could be done to save those trapped inside. The resulting investigation was unable to attribute definitive blame for the cause of the tragedy.

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The most recent air accident fatalities on the Isle of Wight were over 11 years ago on 4th September 2010, during the Merlin Trophy Air Race – which started and finished at Bembridge Airport – when 2 planes collided causing 2 fatalities.

Isleofwightplanecrash
1 of the planes involved in the 2010 crash managed to make it back to Bembridge. The other crashed into woodland off Rowlands Lane.

The accident investigation stated:

“The two aircraft, a Mooney M20J and a Vans RV-4, were participating in the Merlin Trophy Air Race. The aircraft were closely matched on speed and after the last turn of the race, the Mooney began to overtake the RV-4; shortly after which the two aircraft collided.

“The Mooney broke up in flight and fell to the ground; the pilot and his passenger were fatally injured. The RV-4 was badly damaged, but the pilot managed to land at Bembridge Airport, the crew of the RV-4 having received minor injuries.

The investigation determined that the pilot of the Mooney had probably been unable to see the RV-4 for approximately the final 39 seconds before the collision.

Other recent, notable crashes include an incident at Sandown Airport on 22nd August 2016 – the same day as the Shoreham disaster – where a pilot was pulled from the wreckage of a plane. Just 2 years later, on 12th July 2018, 2 people escaped with their lives after their plane crashed into marshland in Bembridge.

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The views/opinions expressed in these comments are solely those of the author and do not represent those of Island Echo. House rules on commenting must be followed at all times.
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Ceekay
Ceekay
1 month ago

The Wight Aviation Museum at Sandown Airport has a display about WW2 Crashes……if anyone has pictures,info,pieces of aircraft,etc they would like to donate please contact us.

Skinny Tea
Skinny Tea
1 month ago

I’d be very interested in the precise locations of the downed World War II aircraft on the Island. Worthy of further research as I’m sure they’ll be well documented. If anyone has any local information and/or childhood memories of any of the 66 crashed (shot down) aircraft then please share.

Still here
Still here
Reply to  Skinny Tea
1 month ago

Two publications. Battle In The Skies over the Isle of Wight, HJT Leal, 1988. Wight Air Wrecks, AT Gilliam, 2002.

Oh my eyes
Oh my eyes
1 month ago

I think I shall stick to the channel tunnel, or sick bags on the ferries. May end up with a boot full of illegals as a memento of your hols, but likely less threatening than plummeting to Earth with only dental records to i.d you and yours.

Still here
Still here
1 month ago

And tune in next week for the article listing the millions of flights, of all sorts of aircraft, that have arrived at their intended destination safely.
I’d father fly than venture out on the road, and especially here on the island with the ‘quality’ of the roads here.

 

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