Mid-air collision Accident Sopwith RG Tractor Biplane 324, Tuesday 12 May 1914
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Date:Tuesday 12 May 1914
Time:17:00 LT
Type:Sopwith RG Tractor Biplane
Owner/operator:5 Sqn RFC
Registration: 324
Fatalities:Fatalities: 2 / Occupants: 2
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:10th Green, Aldershot Golf Course, Aldershot, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:RFC Farnborough, Hampshire
Destination airport:RFC Farnborough, Hampshire
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
The first fatal mid-air collision between two machines of the Royal Flying Corps killed Capt. Ernest Vincent Anderson (aged 27) and his passenger, Air Mechanic Henry Wifred Carter (aged 24) when their Sopwith Tractor Biplane, 324, was accidentally rammed by Lt. C. W. Wilson in another Sopwith, 325, of the same type. Wilson was returning from Brooklands and descending to land at Farnborough when he struck the other plane, which was climbing away from the aerodrome on a familiarization flight. Wilson escapes with bruises and a broken jaw. Both planes crashed on the nearby Aldershot Golf Course 10th Green. Both machines and all three airmen were from No. 5 Squadron, RFC.

According to a contemporary report in Flight magazine (May 22 1914 pages 553-554, see link #4):

"The Farnborough Smash.
AN inquest was held on the 14th May at the Connaught Military Hospital by Mr. Hugh Foster, deputy-coroner for Aldershot, on the bodies of Captain E. V. Anderson, flight commander of No. 5 Squadron Military wing, R.F.C., and Air Mechanic Carter, who were killed in the collision on Tuesday. Lieut. C. W. Wilson, of the same squadron, who was injured in the collision, was unable to attend.

Major J. F. A. Higgins, commanding No. 5 Squadron, said that Capt. Anderson and Lieut. Wilson were both good pilots. The machines which they used were of the ordinary Sopwith type, and were practically new. The witness himself had piloted both machines. Capt. Anderson had flown similar tractor biplanes for several months, but this was his first flight in a Sopwith machine.

Although the Sopwith machines had been in the squadron for some time they had not been used much because slight structural alterations were being made, so slight that in the case of Capt. Anderson's machine they involved only the addition of a wire. The alterations had no effect upon them.

Lieut. Wilson started on a trip to Brooklands about 4 o'clock. Just before 5 o'clock, Capt. Anderson started for a short flight in order to get used to the machine, and up to a minute before the accident he was flying perfectly. After Capt. Anderson started the witness saw Lieut. Wilson's machine coming back.

The latter might then have been 2,000 feet up, but Capt. Anderson's biplane was a good deal lower. The witness paid no further attention to the flying until he heard an exclamation. Then he saw that one of the machines was spinning round horizontally, apparently with a broken wing, while the other seemed to be dropping vertically to the ground. On his arrival at the scene of the accident he found both machines wrecked, Lieut. Wilson lying down and Capt. Anderson and Air-Mechanic Carter dead.

Replying to questions, Major Higgins said that when machines were started from different points they could not tell every pilot which machines were already in the air, but Capt. Anderson knew that Lieut. Wilson had gone to Brooklands. At certain angles pilots might have some difficulty in seeing straight ahead, and there was sometimes a difficulty in seeing upwards because of the top plane, but pilots were always careful to dip at intervals in order to enlarge their field of vision.

The witness explained the international rule which forbade pilots to approach within 50 metres of another machine, and the regulations governing meeting, passing, and overtaking. The area hidden from the pilot was not very large, and it was conceivable, although not very likely, that another machine might keep within that area. He was afraid that that had happened on this occasion. He was perfectly certain that the two pilots did not see each other until too late to avoid a collision.

Sergeant Mallett said that as the machines came into collision Mr. Wilson's lower left wing seemed to catch the tip of the upper right wing of Captain Anderson's biplane. Then after they had travelled about 200 yds. both machines fell.

Sergeant Mallett and Sergeant Patterson also stated that they inspected the machines and that both were in perfect order before the flight. Major A. R. Greenwood, R.A.M.C, gave evidence that the necks of both airmen were broken. The jury decided that there was no need to adjourn for Mr. Wilson's evidence, and returned a verdict of "Accidental death."


1. Aberdeen Journal - Friday 15 May 1914
2. https://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=19286.0
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_accidents_and_incidents_involving_military_aircraft_before_1925#1914
4. http://www.hampshireairfields.co.uk/hancrash.html
5. Flight magazine May 22 1914 page 553-554 at https://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1914/1914%20-%200553.html
6. https://sussexhistoryforum.co.uk/index.php?topic=6415.0
7. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1916.htm

Revision history:

21-Nov-2018 23:29 Dr.John Smith Added
21-Nov-2018 23:30 Dr.John Smith Updated [Destination airport, Narrative]
23-Nov-2018 16:33 Nepa Updated [Operator, Destination airport, Operator]

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