Accident Shorts S.27 Unregistered, Thursday 22 December 1910
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Date:Thursday 22 December 1910
Time:15:15 LT
Type:Shorts S.27
Owner/operator:Cecil Stanley Grace
Registration: Unregistered
MSN: S.29
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Aircraft missing
Location:English Channel, about 6 miles offshore, near the Goodwin Sands -   United Kingdom
Phase: En route
Departure airport:Calais, France
Destination airport:Dover, Kent
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Maurice Arnold de Forest (Baron de Forest) was a politician, racing car driver and pilot. Having in 1909 offered a prize to the first Englishman to fly the Channel (won by T.O.M.Sopwith), in 1910 he offered a prize of £4000 for the longest flight from the UK into continental Europe by an Englishman. One of the competitors for that prize was Cecil Stanley Grace, an American by birth but British by naturalisation.

Just to show how early 1910 was in the annals of powered heavier-than-air flight, Grace was only the fourth person to be awarded a Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate. This he received on 12 April 1910, less than a month after the first was awarded to J.T.Moore-Brabazon.

The first pilot to try for the de Forest prize was T.O.M.Sopwith, who flew 170 miles to Belgium on 17 December 1910. Claude Grahame-White was to have been the next, but he crashed his aeroplane before he could embark upon the prize flight. Thus the next attempt was that of C.S.Grace on 22 December 1910. That flight started in the morning from Swingate Downs, near Dover. Flying a Short S.27 biplane (which was 'state of the art' at the time), he reached Calais but a strong head wind forced him to put down. There he had lunch, after which he decided to return to Dover and make another attempt on the prize when weather conditions were more favourable.

He took off from Calais at 2:30 pm. He was expected to arrive at Dover within about forty minutes. By 3:30 pm he had not arrived. A report was received that at about 3:00 pm an aeroplane had been seen, by the Ramsgate coastguard (an American documentary says that the report came from the master of 'the Goodwin Sands light vessel' - I've not yet ascertained whether, then, there were more that just the East Goodwin lightship in operation), about six miles out to sea and heading north near the Goodwin Sands (if it was Grace, he should have been heading between south-west and north-west). No reports having been received of Grace having made land on either side of the Channel, boats were launched from English ports to search for him, it being assumed that he had ditched at sea, but neither he nor his machine were found.

17 days later what were believed to be some of Grace's personal possessions (his cap and goggles) were found at sea near Mariakerke, west of Ostend (the American documentary says that they were washed up on the beach there). In that same region it is said that aircraft wreckage subsequently was found. In March 1911 a body was washed up in Ostend Harbour (the American documentary says that it was washed up on the beach). Whilst it was believed to be that of Grace (the American documentary says that it could have been that of a Belgian fisherman, who was lost overboard in the same area at about the same time), after nearly three months in the sea it was too decomposed to be identified with certainty. That same month a declaration of the presumption of Grace's death was made.

It is assumed that in a sea mist, Grace had lost his bearings (the American documentary says that his aircraft was not equipped with a compass) and rather than following a north-westerly course (viz. the Ramsgate coastguard report), he had veered further north and, instead of sighting land, he had headed out into the North Sea where, eventually, he ran out of fuel, put down in the water and drowned in the absence of being found. That his possessions, allegedly his aircraft wreckage and putatively his body were found north-east of his departure point lends support to this theory.


4. British Airman Missing. Mr. Grace Lost Over The Sea After A Channel Flight.". News. The Times (39463). London. 23 December 1910. col C, p. 8.
5. The Disappearance of Mr. Grace. Discovery of Cap And Spectacles". News. The Times (39475). London. 6 January 1911. col F, p. 8.
6. "The Disappearance of Mr. Grace". News. The Times (39476). London. 17 January 1911. col F, p. 8.
7. "Believe Body is that of Missing Aviator". Salt Lake Tribune. 15 March 1911.
8. "Grace's Body Found?; One Much Disfigured, Resembling Lost Aviator, Picked Up at Ostend". The New York Times. 15 March 1911.
9. Evening star., March 15, 1911, Page 11, Image 11
10. "Airman's Death in the Goods of Cecil Stanley Grace". Law. The Times (39544). London. 28 March 1911. col E, p. 3.
11. New-York tribune., March 15, 1911, Image 1


Short S.27

Revision history:

06-Feb-2017 16:16 Dr.John Smith Added
06-Feb-2017 16:17 Dr.John Smith Updated [Embed code]
19-Nov-2018 20:31 Dr.John Smith Updated [Time, Source]
28-Aug-2019 16:33 Nieman Updated [Location]
18-Jul-2020 22:25 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location]
20-Jul-2020 23:20 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source, Narrative]
20-Jul-2020 23:23 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
20-Jul-2020 23:24 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]
20-Jul-2020 23:26 Dr. John Smith Updated [Source]

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