Accident de Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth G-ABDI,
ASN logo
ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 153491
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:Thursday 23 December 1937
Time:16:45 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic DH80 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
de Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth
Owner/operator:Redhill Flying Club Ltd
Registration: G-ABDI
MSN: 2091
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Brick House Farm, Horne, near Horley, Surrey -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Redhill Aerodrome, Redhill, Surrey (EGKR)
Destination airport:Redhill Aerodrome, Redhill, Surrey (EGKR)
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Registered G-ABDI [C of R 2747] 7.30 to Flt Lt Maxwell H Findlay, Hanworth; as nominee for Georges Hanet, Brussels, Belgium. C of A 2663 issued 14.8.30. Registered [C of R 3929] 8.32 to Airwork Ltd, Heston. Registered [C of R 3990] 10.32 to Leonard S Ingrams, Heston. Sold 4.34 to Germ Lubricants Ltd, Heston; named "Germ 2" (and flown by their Aviation Manager James Watson).

Registered [C of R 7453] 4.12.36 to British Air Transport Ltd, Redhill. Re-registered [C of R 7865] 6.5.37 to Redhill Flying Club Ltd, Redhill.

Written off (destroyed) when crashed at Horne, near Horley, Surrey 23.12.37; pilot Robert S Gray killed. A contemporary newspaper report has further details into the inquest on the death of the pilot ("Surrey Mirror" - Friday 7 January 1938):

A verdict of "Accidental death" was returned by the jury at the inquest held at Oxted on Tuesday on Robert Stewart Gray, an aeronautical student, aged 25, of Anchorage, Heathfield Drive, Redhill, who was killed when the two-seater monoplane he was piloting, crashed in a field at Brick House Farm, Horne, on Thursday, December 23rd. The County Coroner (Dr. W. J. Lord) conducted the inquiry and the Air Ministry was represented by Capt. Percy H. Davey (Assistant Inspector of Accidents).

"A Sound Pupil".
John Reginald Hatchett, chief flying instructor at Redhill Aerodrome, said Gray joined the club last September and had been instructed in flying by himself and other instructors. He had flown mostly the ordinary school Gypsy Moth machine, and his first flights in a De Havilland Puss Moth were on December 23rd, the day of the crash. That morning he had given Gray dual control instruction and later he had two solo flights in the same machine. In his opinion Gray was a very sound pupil and appeared to have an understanding of the machine. As his take-offs and landings were quite up to standard he had no hesitation in allowing him to go up alone. The weather was good for flying that day.

"Crashed Three Miles From Aerodrome".
William Baker, timekeeper at the aerodrome, said Gray took his first solo flight on November 14th and he continued with dual and solo flying practically every day up to December 23rd. He had a dual control and two solo flights, and in the second solo flight circled the aerodrome and made six landings perfectly. He then took off again and when last seen was flying at a thousand feet in a southerly direction. The weather was clear. At 4.5 p.m. he reported to Mr. Hatchett that Gray had not returned and a few minutes later he was told the machine had crashed in a field three or four miles from the aerodrome.

"Spinning straight down."
Charles Daniels, farm labourer, Brick House Farm Cottages, Horne, said he was working in the twelve-acre field when he saw a plane spinning straight down towards the ground at a very fast rate. He thought it was out of control and that the pilot was trying to land. The plane struck the ground close to the hedge and he ran towards it. The pilot was still in his seat and was apparently dead.

Gilbert Arthur Heasman, labourer, Toll Gate Cottages, New chapel, Lingfleld, said he was working near the "Jolly Farmers" public-house when he saw the plane coming from the direction of Redhill. It was flying normally except for what he thought was back-firing. When it got level with him the plane made several turns in a spiral dive, then flattened out and went off in a normal way, except that the right wing lifted twice. Immediately after, the plane went into a left-hand spiral dive with the engine shut off and he heard a crash.

A juryman: Do you think the pilot was stunting? - Witness: I should not think so.
Capt. Davey: When the machine recovered from the first spin and went off in a southerly direction, did the engine come on normally again? - Witness: Yes, sir.

"Nose Buried in Ground".
Inspector A. H. Tassell said he found the monoplane with its nose partially buried in the ground at the edge of a ditch a hundred yards from the roadway. The right wing was resting across a hedge and the tail was in the air at an angle of 45 degrees. The pilot had received terrible injuries and was dead. The body was later taken to a mortuary at Lingfield.

Capt. Davey said his examination revealed there had been no failure of the aircraft structure or controls. There was an ample supply of fuel in the petrol tank.

"Instantaneous Death".
Dr. E. T. Ruston said the cause of death was fracture of the skull and laceration of the brain and death must have been instantaneous. He thought that in the crash the pilot struck his head violently on the left-hand pillar rather than on the instrument board. The minute hand of his watch was broken off by the force of the impact.

The jury joined with the Coroner in expressing deep sympathy with the relatives."

Registration G-ABDI cancelled 2.5.38 due to "destruction of permanent withdrawl from use of aircraft"


1. Surrey Mirror - Friday 07 January 1938

Revision history:

24-Feb-2013 16:42 Dr. John Smith Added
30-Nov-2017 21:16 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Operator, Departure airport, Source, Narrative]
01-Mar-2020 21:52 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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