Accident Fairey IIID N9759, Wednesday 30 January 1929
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Date:Wednesday 30 January 1929
Time:11:30 LT
Type:Fairey IIID
Owner/operator:A & GS RAF
Registration: N9759
MSN: F.623
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:RAF Eastchurch, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent, England -   United Kingdom
Phase: Approach
Departure airport:RAF Eastchurch, Kent
Destination airport:RAF Eastchurch, Kent
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Fairey IIID N9759, Armament & Gunnery School, Eastchurch: Written off (destroyed) 30/1/1929 when spun into the ground on approach to RAF Eastchurch, Eastchurch, Isle of Sheppey, Kent. On Thursday the 31/1/1929, the Times Newspaper reported the deaths of three RAF men who were killed at Eastchurch. The pilot and two mechanics were flying a Fairey 3D that belonged to the Armament and Gunnery School at Eastchurch when it got into a spin when banking steeply at a height of 500 feet, it nose dived to earth. The plane had flown to Leysdown and had completed a wireless reconnaissance before returning to Eastchurch and crashing at 11.30 am
F/O Geoffrey Hugh Conningsby INGLE (pilot) RAF - killed
LAC Frank Nelson Howick (359373) RAF - killed
AC.2 George Henry Johnson (359819) RAF - killed

According to contemporary press reports ("Sheffield Independent" - Thursday 31 January 1929):

Three members of the Royal Air Force—pilot and two mechanics—were killed in an air crash at Eastchurch Aerodrome, Isle of Sheppey, yesterday. Flying Officer Geoffrey Hugh Conningsby Ingle, the pilot, was instantly killed, and Aircraftsman George Henry Johnson and Leading Aircraftsman Frank Nelson Howick, were picked up alive, but died later.

The machine, a Fairey 3D, belonging the armament and gunnery school, Eastchurch, got into a spin when banking steeply at a height of 500 feet, and nose-dived to earth.

Flying Officer Ingle was found dead beneath the engine, the front part of which was buried in the ground, Johnson died soon after the arrival of a party from the aerodrome, and Howick died in hospital. Howick had been married only a month.

Flying Officer Ingle was the son of Major Hugh M. Ingle, Abbott’s Grange, Broadway, Worcestershire. Aircraftsman G. H. Johnson was wireless operator, and a London man. Howick was a fitter. The men were attached to the Coast Defence Force.

The machine, a medium-sized three seater, stalled out of a roll, and then went into a spin to the ground. She had made a flight to Leysdown, a few miles east of Eastchurch, and, after completing her wireless reconnaisance work, was about to come down when the crash took place at 11.30 a.m.

One of the most tragic features of the accident is the fact that Aircraftsman Howick was married to a Horley girl only at the beginning of January. They lived within a few hundred yards of the aerodrome, and the wife, who is aged about 22, was at home awaiting her husband’s return for lunch at the time.

A description of the accident was given to a Press reporter, last night, by Albert Lambkin, who was herding sheep on grounds attached to the aerodrome at the time. He is employed by an Eastchurch farmer.

''I thought at first the machine was going to hit me," he said. "I was standing on the aerodrome grounds, minding the sheep, when I saw the ’plane well in the air, about 2,000 feet, I should say. The ’plane appeared to be running well. I could hear the engine purring smoothly. Suddenly the ’plane disappeared behind a white cloud, and when next I saw her she was spinning fairly fast to the ground. Then, when she had approached to within about 500 feet from the ground the pilot, who I could see this time fairly distinctly, seemed to regain control for a few seconds.

"She was almost righted, but then began to spin again, and hit the aerodrome at an angle of about 45 degrees in the course of its spin. It was a terrific impact. The thud, I am told, was heard for miles around. Then the tail of the machine broke off. I rushed up, and was the second person on the scene. There was no fire, no sound came from the men. The engine was embedded about five feet in the ground. I could see all three men. The pilot's body was terribly mutilated, and entangled in the crumpled engine. Johnson appeared to be dead, too, but Howick was breathing.

"Within a few seconds a number of R.A.F. men were on the scene, and they fought desperately to free the victims of the accident. Then the aerodrome fire engine came up, followed the ambulance. The fire engine was used to pull the engine of the machine away, and free the body of the pilot. Howick was rushed to the hospital."

It was hoped to transfer Howick to Sheerness Hospital, but he was too badly injured. Another account of the accident was given to a Press reporter by a transport worker who was one of the first on the scene. "I saw the machine," he said, "when she was righting herself out of the spin at about 500 feet off the ground. She went into a second spin, and whirled down to the ground. The engine was running up to the time of the impact.

"All the pilots at the aerodrome have instructions to up immediately an accident occurs, and I suppose nearly all the 40 aeroplanes at the aerodrome were in the air before the last body was taken out of the wrecked plane."

The crash took place what is known as the Southern Aerodrome, only a few yards from the Royal Air Force married quarters and the hangars.

Mr Hall, of Station road, Eastchurch, at whose house Aircraftsman Howick and his wife live, told a Press representative last night that Mr. Howick was married on New Year’s Day, but had been at the aerodrome some time. He seemed ideally happy with his wife.

Mrs. Howick was a slim, fair-haired girl. The first she heard of the accident was about noon, when an R.A.F. officer came to the door and said he would like to see her. She was then waiting for her husband to return to lunch. Her husband went out at 7.30 a.m.

The officer told her that her husband had been badly injured, and she went along to the hospital to see him. He was unconscious and was unable to recognise her, but she was with him when he died.

"She is lying down at the moment, " Mr. Hall added, "and appears numbed."


1. The Times, London 31 January 1929
2. Nottingham Journal - Thursday 31 January 1929
3. Sheffield Independent - Thursday 31 January 1929
4. Western Daily Press - Saturday 2 February 1929 (Report of Coroner's Inquest in the crew deaths)
5. Sheffield Independent - Saturday 2 February 1929
6. East Kent Gazette - Saturday 9 February 1929

Revision history:

20-Jun-2018 18:53 Dr. John Smith Added
04-Jul-2019 11:52 stehlik49 Updated [Operator]
21-Apr-2024 17:04 Nepa Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Narrative, Operator]

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