Accident Auster J/1 Autocrat G-AJRD, 29 Aug 1947
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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 18211
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Type:Silhouette image of generic J1 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Auster J/1 Autocrat
Owner/operator:Newport Construction Co Ltd
Registration: G-AJRD
MSN: 2602
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Sea off Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Portsmouth Airport, Portsmouth, Hampshire
Destination airport:Somerton Airfield, East Cowes, Isle of Wight
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Auster J/1 Autocrat: First civil registered (C of R 11517/1; C of A 9350) as G-AJRD to Auster Aircraft Ltd., Rearsby Aerodrome, Leicester. Registration cancelled 7.6.47. Sold on and re-registered 7.7.47 to Newport Construction Co Ltd., Newport, Isle of Wight.

Crashed 29.8.47 into the English Channel off Shanklin Beach, Isle of Wight. Accident attributed to pilot error, all three persons on board were killed. According to a contemporary report in "Flight" magazine (April 1st 1948 page 353):

INEXPERT and dangerous low-flying has been given as the cause of an accident to an Auster which occurred off Shanklin beach, I.o.W., on August 29th last. The pilot of the aircraft, Mr. Robert Walter Bacon, and his two passengers, Mrs. S. Wilson and Miss J. A. Hall, lost their lives.

After flying over Shanklin pier and performing a number of badly executed gliding and climbing turns the aircraft, from a height of about 250 feet, descended in an engine-assisted glide. At a height of approximately 150 feet the pilot dived towards a speed boat on the water, and at 100 feet increased the steepness of his glide to a very steep angle.

At about 40 feet the machine started to recover, but there was insufficient height available and the aircraft struck the water at an angle of 60 degrees and plunged below the surface. In his report on this crash the Chief Inspector of Accidents refers to Mr. Bacon's habit of low flying over the sea in the close vicinity of shipping against which he had been warned on more than one occasion but with little effect. He had been slow to learn to fly and had exhibited over-confidence, he was not an experienced pilot.

The aircraft, its loading and documents were in order at the time of the accident which, it is said, was caused by errors of judgment and airmanship on the part of the pilot."

It is notable that the official Accident Report at the National Archives at Kew (File BT217/1871) can best be described as a ‘slim volume’. It comprises only the cover, a note, a ‘covering’ letter and a three page typewritten AAIB report. It’s hard to avoid the conclusion that at some stage of its career, before it reached Kew, it had been redacted. That might be explained by the fact that the file cover indicates that it had been embargoed (it bears the sticker ‘closed until 2025’), from which position the Ministry of Civil Aviation subsequently released a limited version of the report (it also bears the sticker ‘inspection permitted under s.5(4)’ (of what?)).

Registration G-AJRD cancelled by the Secretary of State, Air Ministry, 11.11.47 as "Crashed (Write Off)"


1. Western Daily Press - Thursday 11 September 1947
2. Daily Mirror - Thursday 11 September 1947
3. National Archives (PRO Kew) File BT 217/1871:
7. "Flight" magazine (April 1st 1948 page 353):

Revision history:

17-May-2008 11:10 ASN archive Added
26-Dec-2011 07:20 Dr. John Smith Updated [Operator, Total fatalities, Total occupants, Other fatalities, Location, Phase, Nature, Source, Damage, Narrative]
27-Nov-2019 23:22 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
26-Feb-2020 03:51 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]

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