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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 207921
Last updated: 23 November 2021
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Time:20:05 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic wapi model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different
Westland Wapiti Mk IIA
Owner/operator:501 (City of Bristol) Squadron Royal Air Force (501 (City of Bristol) Sqn RAF)
Registration: K1369
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Howletts House, Ickham, near Bekesbourne, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RAF Hendon, Middlesex
Destination airport:RAF Manston, Kent
Westland Wapiti K1369, 501 (City of Bristol) Squadron, Royal Auxiliary Air Force, Filton Aerdrome: Written off (destroyed) 27/7/32 when hit tree, crashed and caught fire, Howletts House, near Bekesbourne. Pilot - Flying Officer Peter Walter Johnston Pharazyn (aged 21, RAF Special Reserve, and a New Zealander) - was killed. According to a newspaper report on the inquest into the death of the pilot ("Dover Express" - Friday 5 August 1932)

An inquest was held at Howlett's Farm, Ickham, on Friday, on Flying Officer Arthur Johnson Pharazyn, a Cambridge undergraduate, who crashed in an aeroplane at Howlett's Farm, on Wednesday, 27th July. Mr. Rutley Mowll (the East Kent Coroner) conducted the inquest and sat with a jury of which Mr. A. Harris was the foreman.

Police-Sergeant Castle, K.C.C. Bridge, identified the body as that of Flying Officer Pharazyn, who belonged to the City of Bristol Squadron, Filton, near Bristol. He was aged 21 years. Witness received this information together with his identification card from Manston Aerodrome. Witness saw nothing of the accident. He saw the body in the wreckage of the aeroplane at 8.30 p.m. on Wednesday, 27th.

Robert Christian Ramsay, Howlett's House, Ickham, said that at about 8 p.m. on Wednesday, 27th July, he was having dinner when he heard an aeroplane overhead. He went out as was his usual habit when he heard an aeroplane. His wife and daughter went out before him. When he got to the door he just caught a glimpse of the machine round the corner of the house. He then went to the gravel path and saw the aeroplane coming round the house. It was travelling very fast and was diving down. When it was overhead it started to go up again, apparently to clear the top of the oak tree. He had so little doubt about this that he took his eye off it and at the same moment he heard the crash. He saw the tail part of the aeroplane disappear through the branches. It appeared that a branch on the house side of the tree had not been touched and on examination, he found it was not touched. He rushed towards the spot but before he got many yards he saw a tremendous flare and by the time he had got round the rhododendrons, the aeroplane was about 100 yards away. He ran to within 50 yards the aeroplane and saw a deep hole in the ground and a beaten track along the ground. He could go no nearer as there was petrol burning on the ground. The plane was burning fiercely. He then went to within three feet of the cockpit, but could see nothing as the opening of the cockpit was on the ground. The plane was burning for about half-an-hour.

Do you know Mr. Pharazyn? —Yes.
Were you expecting him?— No, I knew he had gone to London and was returning to the Manston Aerodrome
Has he been to your house?— Yes.
Do not you think the reason he was flying low round the house was because he knew your people?— Yes, he was probably trying to draw attention. He may have hit the oak tree through a bump in the air.
Is not it obvious he was flying low?- No, not dangerously low.
What was the first time you saw the fire?— It was about the time he struck the ground.
You are a bit of an aviator yourself, do not you think he should have been flying higher?— No, I do not think so. [Although Mr. Ramsay is 70 he holds a Pilot's "A" certificate.]
Flying Officer Warrington: Was there a strong wind blowing?— Yes, otherwise it was a fine day.
What was the velocity of the wind? About 20-25 miles per hour. Deceased was flying partly down wind.
The Coroner: What is the height of the tree?— About 90 feet. The plane struck the tree at a point 20 feet from the top.
Susan Mabel Christian Ramsay, daughter of the previous witness, said that she went out from dinner to see the aeroplane. When she got outside it was circling the house. She went on to the drive and stood there and called her father and mother as she recognised the machine. She did not know Mr. Pharazyn was flying it. She saw it fly straight over her head and descending went into the tree. She heard a crash and saw the flames almost immediately.

Dr. Mercer, M.B. Ch. B., of Littlebourne, said that he saw the body at about 9.30 p.m. on the Wednesday. It was then in the wreckage and was badly charred. On Thursday afternoon he made an examination of the body and found a large depressed fracture on the left side of the skull and also a fracture on the right side. Death was caused by the injuries to the head. He must have died before the burning commenced.

Flying Officer George Warrington, 501st City of Bristol Squadron, said that deceased was in the Special Reserve. Witness produced deceased's log book, which stated that he started flying March, 1930. The last entry in the log was for the annual camp at Manston when he flew from Filton. That was the day previous to the fatality. Since the commencement of the book he had flown 360 hours. He was an experienced airman. He had been to Hendon from Manston and was returning. He was flying a Walletti [sic] two-seater day bomber. The machine was inspected every day and before fights. Probably deceased was descending and must have hit a down draught from the leeward side of the house and this brought him down on to the tree.

The Coroner suggested that deceased was flying too low as he wanted to attract the attention of those living at the house. Witness said that that probably was the case. He must have hit the tree before he had time to pull over. It was extremely unlikely that there was anything wrong with the machine.

The Coroner; The public are very deeply interested in these cases, and there is a strong body of opinion that these fine young fellows who constitute the Air Force, should not be allowed to take risks of this kind. Have you no regulations forbidding this?— Yes; the standard regulations forbid flying below 2,000 feet. There are exceptions in certain areas.

The Coroner said that there was no doubt that it was an accident. If the regulations had been carried out and the young man kept up 2000 feet he would not have collided with the tree, which was only 90 feet high. It was a great pity that risk's of that kind should have been run. A useful and promising life was lost through having taken wholly unnecessary risks. It was well-known, however, that officers in the Air Force thought nothing of taking risks.

A verdict of accidental death was returned. F/O Warrington said that he had known Pharazyn for two years, and on such occasions when he was required to fly low for service reasons, he was always careful and never took risks. On occasions like those, with climatic conditions such as on the day of the accident, there might have been an accident".


1. Royal Air Force Aircraft K1000-K9999 (James J. Halley, Air Britain, 1976 page 7)
4. Photo of K1369:

Revision history:

20-Mar-2018 17:42 Dr. John Smith Added
09-Oct-2018 17:35 Nepa Updated [Operator, Operator]

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description