Accident de Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth VH-UPM, Sunday 18 September 1932
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Date:Sunday 18 September 1932
Time:14:30 LT
Type:Silhouette image of generic DH80 model; specific model in this crash may look slightly different    
de Havilland DH.80 Puss Moth
Owner/operator:New England Airways
Registration: VH-UPM
MSN: 2052
Fatalities:Fatalities: 3 / Occupants: 3
Other fatalities:0
Aircraft damage: Destroyed
Location:Myocum, near Byron Bay, 20m NNE Lismore, NSW -   Australia
Phase: En route
Nature:Passenger - Non-Scheduled/charter/Air Taxi
Departure airport:Lismore, NSW
Destination airport:Archerfield, Brisbane, Queensland (BNE/YBBN)
Confidence Rating: Information is only available from news, social media or unofficial sources
Crashed and destroyed 18.9.32: Crossing Burringbar Range at about 100 feet, just below cloud, the aircraft was caught in a sudden down draught. It appeared to turn a somersault in the air. The pilot, Ralph Virtue, managed to right the aircraft, but then the left wing and rudder broke off. It dived sideways, crashing into the ground at Myocum, near Byron Bay, 20 miles North North East of Lismore, NSW, with tremendous force killing all 3 on board; (pilot Ralph Virtue plus passengers Captain Les Holden and Dr George R Hamilton). Registration cancelled 23.9.32.

Following the fatal in-flight structural failure of VH-UPM on 18.9.32, the CAB grounded all Australian Puss Moths five days later by cancelling their CofRs and CofAs. Great concern over reported wing flutter, tailplane strength and wing design strength. Investigations into the airworthiness of the type took place in Australia, United Kingdom and by the manufacturer, concentrating on wing flutter, tailplane strength and wing structural integrity. Testing by the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough recommended a stabilising strut be fitted to the forward leg of the wing V struts, and this was one of many modifications adopted.

In Australia the type remained grounded until the following year until mandatory modifications to strengthen the wing structure were finalised. When installed, each Puss Moth had its certification renewed individually.


1. Virtue In Flying - authoress Joan Priest.
A biography of pioneer aviator Keith Virtue.

Revision history:

27-Sep-2008 01:00 ASN archive Added
04-Jul-2009 02:22 Paul Lomas Updated
23-Feb-2013 20:47 Dr. John Smith Updated [Location, Departure airport, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
07-Apr-2014 20:50 Dr. John Smith Updated [Time, Cn, Destination airport, Source, Narrative]
09-May-2020 19:45 Sergey L. Updated [Source]

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