Accident Henry Farman biplane Unregistered, Monday 1 August 1910
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Date:Monday 1 August 1910
Type:Henry Farman biplane
Owner/operator:G.W. Parkinson
Registration: Unregistered
Fatalities:Fatalities: 0 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Boldon Flats Racecourse, Cleadon, near Sunderland, County Durham -   United Kingdom
Phase: Take off
Departure airport:Boldon Flats Racecourse, Sunderland, County Durham
Destination airport:Boldon Flats Racecourse, Sunderland, County Durham
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
1.8.1910: Henry Farman biplane, owned and operated G W Parkinson. Written off (damaged beyond repair) when hit flagpole and crashed hitting a boy spectator, at Boldon Flats Racecourse, Cleadon, near Sunderland, County Durham. The boy killed was Thomas Wood (aged 15). Madame Mathilde Franck (the pilot) was injured. According to her Wikipedia entry (see link #4):

"In late July 1910, she arrived in the north of England where the manager of Sunderland's Empire Theatre had invited her to present demonstration flights in connection with the Boldon Races. On 30 July 1910, she accomplished a flight of a mile and a half, the first significant distance covered by a woman in the United Kingdom. On the following Monday, she again attempted to fly but flew into a flagstaff which brought the plane down, causing the death of a young boy who was hit by the engine. The accident brought her flying career to an end. She never obtained a licence."

According to a published article in the "Shields Gazette" 11 August 2010 (see link #2):

"From triumph in the skies to a forgotten tragedy

Now, a century this month after an aerial feat in the skies of South Tyneside almost cost her life, efforts are being made to commemorate the borough's links with an early aviation pioneer, Madame Mathilde Franck. In August 1910, she thrilled spectators when she took off in a bi-plane from Boldon Flats. But it was a flight that ended in tragedy, when she crashed and killed a young boy. She herself escaped, albeit injured, and the incident effectively ended her ambition to be on a par with some of aviation's earliest male pioneers. Yet today, her feat is virtually forgotten locally.

The location from which she took off is an everyday field where cows graze. "It's such a shame. There is absolutely no evidence that it ever happened," said Joan Atkinson. "It's not known about in local schools, there's no plaque – unless something is done, it will all get forgotten about." Joan and fellow East Boldon resident Peter Skevington recently set about trying to find out more about Madame Franck, but it has been an uphill struggle. Peter, an air enthusiast since boyhood, has even written to aviation-linked agencies in France, but did not receive a single acknowledgement. "I had hoped that they might have had more information on her life, given that she actually lived for a long time afterwards, being around 90 when she died," he said. "It would be even better, though, if we could find a relative of her's or a descendant. "It's important because she was one of the really, really early people who flew aeroplanes, at a time when women were not known for doing that kind of thing."

Rosalind Mathilde Franck, was an early aviation pioneer holding a 1910 record by flying, non-stop, for 14 miles at Mourmelon, north-east of Paris. She ended her flying career after the August 1, 1910 crash during her exhibition flight at the Boldon Flats which, at the time, were the location of the Boldon Races. Although she never flew again, Mathilde Franck had a long life, surviving both World Wars, and died in 1956 at the age of 90.

The crash location of Boldon Flats racecourse is now a Nature Reserve




Mathilde Franck Rosalind Mathilde Franck in a biplane, facing front (cropped)

Revision history:

14-Nov-2018 22:01 Dr.John Smith Added
14-Nov-2018 22:03 Dr.John Smith Updated [Narrative]
19-Nov-2018 20:12 Dr.John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Embed code]
28-Jul-2022 14:14 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Source, Narrative, Category]

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