Mid-air collision Accident Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c 5389, Thursday 5 October 1916
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Date:Thursday 5 October 1916
Type:Silhouette image of generic be2 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c
Owner/operator:Hampshire Aircraft Park, Farnborough
Registration: 5389
Fatalities:Fatalities: 1 / Occupants: 1
Other fatalities:1
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Farnborough Airfield, Farnborough, Hampshire -   United Kingdom
Phase: Initial climb
Departure airport:Farnborough Airfield, Farnborough, Hampshire
Destination airport:RFC Upavon, Salisbury Plain, Wiltshire
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
5.10.16: Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c No.5389, Hampshire Aircraft Park, Farnborough. Written off (destroyed) in a Mid air collision with another Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2c (No.4174 of the Central Flying School, RFC), over Farnborough Airfield, Farnborough, Hampshire. Both pilots involved - Captain Keith Lucas (FRS, DSc, aged 37 in B.E.2c 5389) and 2nd Lt Geoffrey Plateras Lawson Jacques (aged 18, in B.E.2c 4174) - were killed

Keith Lucas FRS (8 March 1879, Greenwich – 5 October 1916, Salisbury Plain) was a British scientist who worked at Trinity College, Cambridge doing pioneering work in Neuroscience.

He was the son of Francis Robert and Katharine Mary (née Riddle) Lucas. He was educated at Rugby School and Trinity College, Cambridge where he graduated BA with a first-class in Natural Sciences in 1901. In 1902 he worked in New Zealand, on the bathymetrical survey of the lakes, and he became a Fellow of Trinity in 1904. In 1907 he became an additional University Demonstrator in physiology, and in 1908 a Lecturer in Natural Sciences.

During the First World War, as a captain in the Hampshire Aircraft Parks Royal Flying Corps (TA), based at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough he was engaged in experimental research work into aerial navigation and early aeroplane compasses.

Convinced that his experimental work in aviation would improve if he became a pilot, he attended a flying course at Upavon where he was instantly killed on 5 October 1916 when his aircraft BE2c 5389 collided in mid-air over Salisbury Plain with BE2c 4174, flown by 2Lt Geoffrey Plateras Lawson Jacques of the Central Flying School, who was also killed. Lucas is buried at Aldershot Military Cemetery, and is commemorated on the War memorial of Fen Ditton, Cambridgeshire

Jacques was in B.E.2c No.4174 and Lucas in BE.2C No. 5389 in the fatal accident. The fact that Lucas was buried at Aldershot (he wasn't native to Hampshire) suggests that the accident took place near Farnborough (otherwise he'd have been buried near Upavon or his body would have been returned to his family). The CWGC has Hampshire Aircraft Park as Lucas' unit (there wasn't such a unit - the Southern Aircraft Depot is the nearest possibility). I'm tempted to think that the collision occurred shortly after take-off on a collection flight of B.E.2c No 5389 from Farnborough, with B.E.2c No 4174 (recorded as being with CFS in July 1916) being the transport machine.


1. http://www.rcawsey.co.uk/Acc1916.htm
2. https://www.cwgc.org/find-war-dead/casualty/359475/lucas,-keith/
3. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keith_Lucas_%28scientist%29
4. http://www.engineersjournal.ie/2018/08/07/heartbreaking-story-flying-mathematicians-world-war/
5. https://www.greatwarforum.org/topic/133556-capt-keith-lucas-rfc-dsc-frs-%E2%80%93-aero-boffin/?tab=comments#comment-1306634


The grave of Keith Lucas (1879-1916) at Aldershot Military Cemetery Keith Lucas Grave

Revision history:

31-Dec-2018 19:09 Dr. John Smith Added

Corrections or additions? ... Edit this accident description

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