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ASN Wikibase Occurrence # 24953
Last updated: 28 January 2021
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Date:21-JUL-1930
Time:15:35 LT
Type:Junkers F13ge
Owner/operator:Walcot Air Line
Registration: G-AAZK
C/n / msn: 2052
Fatalities:Fatalities: 6 / Occupants: 6
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Written off (damaged beyond repair)
Location:Meopham, 5 mi S of Gravesend, Kent -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Le Touquet, France (LFAT)
Destination airport:Croydon Airport, Croydon, Surrey (EGCR)
Narrative:
The Meopham Air Disaster occurred on 21 July 1930 when a Junkers F.13ge flying from Le Touquet to Croydon with two crew and four passengers crashed near Meopham, Kent, with the loss of all on board. The report of the inquiry into the accident was made public, the first time in the United Kingdom that an accident report was published.

The aircraft involved was Junkers F.13ge G-AAZK, c/n 2052. The aircraft had been registered on 26 May 1930, and was owned by the pilot Lieutenant-Colonel George Henderson had been loaned to the Walcot Air Line to operate a charter flight between Le Touquet in France and Croydon Airport south of London. As the aircraft was above Kent it appeared to have disintegrated and crashed near the village green at Meopham, five miles south of Gravesend. Witnesses reported a rumbling noise just before the crash and that the aircraft emerged from a cloud and then broke apart in mid-air. The crash happened at 2:35 pm.

All the occupants except the pilot fell from the aircraft and ended up in an orchard, all of them dead. The fuselage and one wing of the aircraft crashed close to a bungalow, while the other wing was found a mile away. The tail was found 300 yards from the crash site in a field. The engine fell into the drive of an unoccupied house, just missing a gardener working nearby.[2] One of the villagers rescued the co-pilot, Charles Shearing, from the wreckage and carried him into the bungalow. A retired surgeon who lived nearby was soon on the scene, but Shearing died soon afterwards.

Crew:
Lt. Col. George Lochart Henderson (pilot)
Charles d'Urban Shearing, (co-pilot).
Passengers:
Frederick Temple Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood, 3rd Marquess of Dufferin and Ava DSO, PC
Lady Rosemary Millicent Sutherland-Leveson-Gower, Viscountess Ednam
Sir Edward Simons Ward, Bt
Mrs. Sigrid Loeffler.

An inquest into the deaths was opened at Meopham Green on 23 July 1930. After hearing identification evidence for the victims and testimony from some of the witnesses the inquest was adjourned until August pending results from an Air Ministry Inquiry.

The inquest resumed on 13 August and heard more reports from witnesses and technical evidence from the investigation. The head of the Air Ministry investigation said the removal of parts of the wreckage for souvenirs had not helped his work. The investigation had shown no evidence of faulty material or bad workmanship but it was clear that the port wing had folded or collapsed upwards where it joined the fuselage. The engine and tail plane had broken away and the passengers were thrown out of the aircraft. The coroner directed that as a government inquiry would be held then some of the technical details of the accident need not be heard. The coroner could see no reason to further delay the verdict until after the inquiry by the Aeronautical Research Committee. The jury returned a verdict "that the victims met their death falling from an aeroplane, the cause of the accident being unknown"

Cause: The Head of the Aeronautical Research Commission (ACR) Major Cooper believes that the lost of the cover of the engine might well be the reason for the accident. An aeronautical research committee attributed the crash to buffeting, or irregular oscillation, of the horizontal stabilizer of G-AAZK. This condition itself apparently resulted from wake ‘eddies’ produced by air flowing over the relatively thick main wing of the Junkers. Ultimately, the oscillation led to the separation of the port stabilizer/elevator assembly, then the entire empennage, after which the port wing broke off and the nose/ power plant section separated. The Germans on the other hand discounted this theory and seemed to imply that the crash may have been due to pilot error and/or the weather conditions.

Sources:

1. Mystery Of The Air Disaster In Kent, Machine Falls In Pieces, Six Lives Lost. The Times, London. 22 July 1930. col A, p. 14.
2. Six Killed In A Junkers Crash. Flight. No. 25 July 1930. pp. 851–52: https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1930/untitled0%20-%200899.html
3. The Meopham Accident. Flight. No. 7 November 1930. p. 1229: https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1930/untitled0%20-%201301.html
4. The Kent Air Disaster Inquest Opened And Adjourned, Wreckage Removed To Croydon. The Times, London. 24 July 1930. col A, p. 9.
5. The Kent Air Disaster Open Verdict At Inquest, "Cause Unknown". The Times, London 14 August 1930. col E, p. 6.
6. The Meopham Disaster. Flight. No. 22 August 1930. p. 958: https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1930/untitled0%20-%201006.html
7. Meopham Air Disaster Inquiry Begun In Private. The Times, London. 4 September 1930. col D, p. 6.
8. Editorial Comment. Flight. No. 5 September 1930. pp. 983–84: https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1930/untitled0%20-%201039.html
9. Meopham Air Disaster Tail Broken By Buffeting. The Times, London, 24 January 1931. col E, p. 12.
10. Dover Express - Friday 25 July 1930
11. The Daily Sketch - Wednesday 30 July 1930
12. Illustrated London News - Saturday 26 July 1930
13. The Graphic - Saturday 26 July 1930
14. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Meopham_air_disaster
15. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frederick_Hamilton-Temple-Blackwood,_3rd_Marquess_of_Dufferin_and_Ava#Personal_life
17. http://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=7912.0
18. https://cwsprduksumbraco.blob.core.windows.net/g-info/HistoricalLedger/G-AAZK.pdf
19. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ward,_3rd_Earl_of_Dudley#Family

Media:


Revision history:

Date/timeContributorUpdates
27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
12-Jul-2009 11:41 harro Updated
26-Mar-2010 12:17 TB Updated [Aircraft type, Other fatalities, Nature, Narrative]
28-Mar-2010 10:43 TB Updated [Operator, Phase, Nature, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source]
28-Mar-2010 10:46 TB Updated [Operator]
19-Apr-2012 00:25 ryan Updated [Time, Source, Narrative]
13-Sep-2012 08:24 TB Updated [Time, Narrative]
21-Aug-2017 13:15 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
16-Apr-2018 17:00 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
16-Apr-2018 17:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Nature, Source, Narrative]
25-Jun-2019 19:42 Sergey L. Updated [Source]
12-Nov-2019 17:41 TB Updated [Location]
28-Feb-2020 22:52 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Source, Embed code]
28-Feb-2020 22:53 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
28-Feb-2020 23:01 Dr. John Smith Updated [Destination airport, Source]
28-Feb-2020 23:01 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
28-Feb-2020 23:02 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
28-Feb-2020 23:04 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
28-Feb-2020 23:07 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
28-Feb-2020 23:14 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Location, Narrative]
17-May-2020 16:43 TB Updated [Location, Source]

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