List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft before 1925

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This is a list of notable accidents and incidents involving military aircraft grouped by the year in which the accident or incident occurred. Not all of the aircraft were in operation at the time. For more exhaustive lists, see the Bureau of Aircraft Accidents Archives[1] or the Aviation Safety Network[2] or the Scramble on-line magazine accident database.[3] Combat losses are not included except for a very few cases denoted by singular circumstances.

See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft before 1925
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1925–1934)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1935–1939)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1940–1944)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1945–1949)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1950–1954)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1955–1959)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1960–1974)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1975–1979)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1980–1989)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (1990–1999)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (2000–2009)
See: List of accidents and incidents involving military aircraft (2010–present)

Aircraft terminology[edit]

Information on aircraft gives the type, and if available, the serial number of the operator in italics, the constructors number, also known as the manufacturer's serial number (c/n), exterior codes in apostrophes, nicknames (if any) in quotation marks, flight callsign in italics, and operating units.

1861[edit]

21 July
Gen. Irvin McDowell requests that a balloon be brought to the front at the Battle of First Manassas, Centreville, Virginia. Mary Hoehling tells of the sudden appearance of Pennsylvania aeronaut[4] John Wise[5] who demanded that Prof. Thaddeus S. C. Lowe stop his inflating of his balloon "Enterprise" and let him inflate his balloon instead. Wise had legal papers upholding his purported authority. Although Wise's arrival on the scene was tardy, he did inflate his balloon and proceeded toward the battlefield. On the way the balloon became caught in the brush and was permanently disabled. His balloon became lodged in trees, which eventually tore the fabric.[6] This ended Wise's bid for the position, and Lowe was at last unencumbered from taking up the task as Chief Aeronaut of the U.S. Army. "Lowe helped avoid panic after the First Battle of Manassas by ascending to a height of 3 miles and reporting that no Confederate forces were advancing on Washington."[7]

1895[edit]

4 July
A large German military balloon burst at the German Army's Balloon Department grounds. Five balloonists were injured.[8]

1907[edit]

June 22
A military balloon falls and explodes in Debrecen, Austria-Hungary. Its crew of two French army officers and one Austrian army officer, and ten peasant men on the ground are killed. With thirteen fatalities it was the worst air accident until the 1913 Helgoland Island Air Disaster.[9]

1908[edit]

Wright Model A crash on Fort Myer parade ground. Photo by C.H. Claudy.
17 September
Army Signal Corps Wright Model A, Army Signal Corps serial number 1, piloted by Orville Wright, crashes at Ft. Myers, Virginia, killing Lt. Thomas E. Selfridge. During the flight, that begun just after 0700 hrs., a propeller breaks and severs control wires. The aircraft is later rebuilt and finally retired on May 4th, 1911. It is now on display at the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C., after having been accepted for exhibition on October 20th, 1911. Selfridge AFB, Michigan, was later named for the first U.S. military aircrash victim. Wright was hospitalized until 31 October 1908 and spent several more weeks on crutches.[10]
16 October
Pilot Samuel Franklin Cody takes off from Farnborough Common, Great Britain, in his British Army Aeroplane No 1, a biplane powered by a 50 hp (37 kW) Antoinette 8V engine. His flight covers 424 metres before ending in a crash-landing, which he survives.[11]

1909[edit]

25 September
French Army airship La République crashes over Avrilly, Allier, killing its crew of four. It was caused by a broken propeller which sheared through the envelope causing rapid leakage. This crash marks the first military airship fatalities.
5 November
The United States Army Wright Military Flyer, serial 1, piloted by Lieutenant Frank P. Lahm with 2nd Lieutenant Frederick E. Humphreys as passenger crashes into the ground at College Park Airport, Maryland, while executing a sharp right turn. The aircraft had lost altitude due to engine misfiring and the aircrew had not taken account of their proximity to the ground when banking the aircraft to the right. Both officers were unhurt but the aircraft required repairs.[12] The skids and the right wing had to be replaced.[13]

1910[edit]

3 December
The first multiple fatality airplane accident in history happened at Centocelle, near Rome, when Lt. Enrico Cammarota and Private S. Castellani became the 26th and 27th people to die in a aircraft crash.[14] Their Farman biplane broke during a turn and they died in a military hospital.

1911[edit]

10 May
First U.S. Army pilot casualty, 2nd Lt. George Edward Maurice Kelly (1878–1911), London-born, and a naturalized United States citizen in 1902, is killed when he banks his Curtiss Type IV (or Curtiss Model D), Army Signal Corps serial number 2, sharply to avoid plowing into an infantry encampment near the present site of Fort Sam Houston, Texas. The Aviation Camp (aka Remount Station) at Fort Sam Houston is renamed Camp Kelly, 11 June 1917, then Kelly Field on 30 July 1917, and finally Kelly AFB on 29 January 1948.[15] Airframe rebuilt, finally grounded in February 1914, refurbished, and placed on display in the Smithsonian Institution National Air and Space Museum, Washington, D.C. Due to this crash, the commanding officer of Fort Sam Houston bans further training flights at the base, the flying facilities being moved to College Park Airport, College Park, Maryland in June–July 1911.[16] A replica of this airframe is preserved at the National Museum of the United States Air Force.[17]
18 August
The Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.1 crashes at Farnborough, pilot Lt. Theodore J. Ridge killed. Despite being Assistant Superintendent at the Factory, Ridge was an inexperienced pilot who had only been awarded his pilot's certificate the day before, and was described as "an absolutely indifferent flyer".[18] The combination of an unskilled pilot and a marginally controllable aircraft proved fatal: the S.E.1 stalled in a turn and spun in, killing Ridge.[19]
17 September
Lieutenant Reginald Archibald Cammell of the British Air Battalion was killed conducting a trial flight of an ASL Valkyrie Type B with his own engine fitted. The accident was not considered to be due to faults in the aircraft, but to have been caused by Cammell's lack of experience with the aircraft.[20]
18 November
First British seaplane to leave the water, and the first seaplane to take off from British waters, an Avro Type D, the first of six of the type, piloted by Royal Navy Commander Oliver Schwann, lifts off from Cavendish Dock, Barrow-in-Furness, England, briefly, falls back into the water and is damaged.[21] His lack of training betrayed him, and the first take-off was not followed by the first successful landing. The Avro will be repaired.[22]

1912[edit]

11 June
Lieutenant Leighton W. Hazelhurst, Jr. (July 1887 - 11 June 1912) and Arthur L. Welsh (14 August 1881 - 11 June 1912) are killed in crash of Wright Model C, U.S. Army Signal Corps serial number 4,[23] in College Park, Maryland. Hazelhurst was the third U.S. army officer to die in an aeroplane crash.[24][25] Airframe had recently been purchased by the Aeronautical Division, U.S. Signal Corps.[26] The United States Army Signal Corps had established a series of tests for the aircraft, and Welsh and Hazelhurst were taking the Model C on a climbing test, one of the last in the series required by the Army. Shortly after takeoff, the aircraft pitched over while making a turn and fell 30 feet (9.1 m) to the ground, killing both crew members. They had both been ejected from their seats, with Welsh suffering a crushed skull and Hazelhurst a broken neck.[27] The New York Times described Welsh as "one of the most daring professional aviators in America" and his flying partner Hazelhurst as being among the "most promising of the younger aviators of the army".[27] A board of officers was formed by the United States Secretary of War Henry Lewis Stimson, which concluded that Welsh was at fault in the crash, having risen to 150 feet, with the plan to dive at a 45-degree angle in order to gain momentum for a climb, but had made the dive too soon, with the board's results reported in the June 29, 1912 issue of Scientific American. In a 2003 interview, a cousin of Welsh's reported the family's belief that the tests were run too rapidly and that Welsh was doomed to fail by carrying too much fuel and a passenger, giving a craft that would be unable to make the planned maneuver with the weight it was carrying.[28]
19 June
Capt. Marcel Dubois and Lt. Albert Peignan of the French Army were killed near Douai when their planes collided in mid-air, the first fatal mid-air collision in history.[29]
26 June
2nd Lt. Henry H. Arnold, holder of Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) pilot certificate No. 29 and Military Aviator Certificate No. 2, after accepting the Army's first tractor airplane, Burgess Model H, Signal Corps 9, crashes into Plymouth Bay, Massachusetts after takeoff, receiving the scar on his chin that he shows distinctively for the rest of his life.[30]
5 July
Royal Flying Corps (RFC) Captain Eustace Loraine and his observer Staff Sergeant R H V Wilson were flying a Nieuport monoplane out of Larkhill, Wiltshire, England on a routine training flight. They were executing a tight turn when the aircraft fell towards the ground and crashed. Wilson was killed outright and although Loraine was speedily transported to Bulford Hospital in a horse-drawn ambulance, he died of his injuries only a few minutes after arriving at the hospital.[31][32] Loraine and Wilson were the first Flying Corps personnel to die in an aircraft crash while on duty. Later in the day an order was issued which stated "Flying will continue this evening as usual", thus beginning a British military aviation tradition.
31 July
An attempt by the U.S. Navy to catapult launch the Navy's first seaplane, a Curtiss A-3 (AH-3) pusher, at the Washington Navy Yard, Washington, D.C., fails when a crosswind catches the aircraft halfway along the catapult and tosses it into the Anacostia River. Pilot uninjured.[33] A different source lists the location of the launch attempt as Annapolis, Maryland, the aircraft as the Curtiss A-1 (AH-1), and the pilot as Lt. Theodore G. Ellyson, noting that the catapult was powered by compressed air, was fabricated by the Naval Gun Factory at the Washington Navy Yard from a design by Capt. Washington I. Chambers, and that the aircraft, not being secured to the catapult, reared up at mid-stroke where it was caught by the crosswind. This account, from an official U.S. Navy history, may be the more credible of the two versions. An accompanying photo (No. 650864) dated July 1912 showing the A-1 on the catapult at Annapolis supports the latter description. The first successful launch was accomplished on 12 November 1912 at the Washington Navy Yard by Ellyson in the A-3, according to this source, possibly accounting for the confusion.[34]
13 August
During air-ground maneuvers held by the U.S. Army, at Stratford, Connecticut, Pvt. Beckwith Havens of the 1st Company, Signal Corps, New York National Guard, suffers engine failure in a Curtiss biplane at about 1000 ft (300 m) over a crowded parade ground, narrowly misses spectators and a cavalry troop as he swoops down, glides down the field and collides with a Burgess-Wright biplane that had just been flown by Lt. Benjamin Foulois, breaking off its tail. No injuries reported, and both aircraft are taken to hangars for repair.[35] Havens, a pilot employed by pioneer aircraft builder Glenn H. Curtiss, had enlisted in the New York National Guard as a private in June 1912. At the National Guard manoeuvers with the Army, he flew an aircraft that his employer had loaned him.[36]
Wright Model B wreckage at College Park Airport.
6 September
Capt. Patrick Hamilton and Lt. Wyness-Stuart of the Royal Flying Corps are killed when their Deperdussin monoplane breaks up in flight, crashing at Graveley, near Welwyn. The 60 hp (45 kW) Anzani-powered aircraft had been taken on strength by the army in January 1912.[10]
10 September
Lts. E. Hotchkiss and C. A. Bettington are killed when their Bristol-Coanda monoplane suffers a structural failure and crashes. This second accident involving a Royal Flying Corps monoplane in five days causes Col. Seely, Secretary of State for War, to issue a ban on monoplanes on 14 September. The ban will be reversed five months later when technical studies show that monoplanes are no more dangerous than biplanes.[10]
28 September
Wright Model B, U.S. Army Signal Corps serial number 4, crashes at College Park Airport, Maryland, killing two crew, Lieutenant L. C. Rockwell and Corporal Frank S. Scott. On 20 July 1917, the Signal Corps Aviation School is named Rockwell Field in honor of 2nd Lt. Lewis C. Rockwell, killed in this crash, and Scott Field, Illinois is named for the first enlisted personnel killed in an aviation crash. Scott Air Force Base remains the only U.S. Air Force base named for an enlisted man.

1913[edit]

Painting of LZ18 descending in flames after engine fire, 17 October 1913.
February
Vickers E.F.B. 1 Destroyer (Experimental Fighting Biplane), the first of the Gunbus series of designs, contracted for in early 1913 by the Admiralty shortly after creation of the Naval Wing of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912, a pusher design, completed and displayed at the 1913 Olympia Aero Show, crashes soon afterwards, possibly on its first flight. No production ordered.[37]
8 February
Russian pilot N. de Sackoff becomes the first pilot shot down in combat when his biplane, possibly a Maurice Farman MF.7, is hit by ground fire following bomb run on the walls of Fort Bizani during the First Balkan War. Flying for the Greeks, he comes down near small town of Preveza, on the coast N of the Aegean island of Levkas, secures local Greek assistance, repairs aircraft and resumes flight back to base.[38]
March
Royal Aircraft Factory B.S.1 (c.f. Blériot Scout, indicating a tractor aeroplane), the first aircraft in the world designed and built from the start as a single-engine, single-seat fighting scout, first flown in March 1913 by Geoffrey de Havilland, crashes later that same month from a flat spin, pilot suffering a broken jaw. Repaired and modified, but no production ordered.[39] Rebuilt as the B.S.2, then redesignated S.E.2 (Scout Experimental), and with enlarged vertical tail surfaces as the S.E.2A, and given serial 609, but still no production ordered.[40]
8 April
Lieutenants Rex Chandler and Lewis H. Brereton on training flight from North Island, San Diego, California, in Curtiss F floatplane, Signal Corps 15, with Brereton as pilot, crashes and Chandler is knocked unconscious and drowns.[41]
27 May
Lieutenant Desmond Arthur died when his Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2 biplane, 205, collapsed without warning while flying over Montrose. This was Scotland's first fatal aircraft accident.
20 June
First fatality in U.S. Naval aviation occurs when flight instructor Ens. W.D. Billingsley is thrown from pilot seat of the second Wright CH seaplane, B-2, at height of 1,600 feet in turbulent air over Annapolis, Maryland. Passenger Lt. John Henry Towers stays with airplane, sustaining injuries when it hits water. Design was modified conversion of Wright Model B with two pusher propellers driven through chains connected to a 60 hp (45 kW) Wright engine.[42]
23 June
The S-21 Sikorsky Russky Vityaz ("Russian Knight"), designed by Igor Sikorsky and built by the RBVZ, a redesigned variant of the Bolshoi Baltiski, as the first large aircraft intended exclusively as a bomber, first flies on this date, the world's first four-motored aircraft. It is lost in a freak accident during 1913 military trials when the Gnôme rotary on a Moller II pusher biplane (some sources cite a Morane design) tears loose and hits the giant bomber.[10]
17 July
Major Alexander William Hewetson of the 66th Battery Royal Field Artillery was killed flying near Stonehenge in Wiltshire. A stone memorial was erected near the spot. This can be seen by the road between the Stonehenge visitors' centre and the monument by the Fargo Wood.
4 September
U.S. Army 11th Cavalry 1st Lt. Moss Lee Love becomes the 10th fatality in U.S. army aviation history when his Wright Model C biplane crashes near San Diego, California during practice for his Military Aviator Test. On 19 October 1917, the newly-opened Dallas Love Field in Dallas, Texas is named in his honor.[43] Joe Baugher lists the fatal aircraft accident for this date as being Burgess Model J, Signal Corps 18, which dove into the ground killing its pilot.[44]
9 September
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin, L 1, LZ14, pushed down into the North Sea in a thunderstorm, drowning 14 crew members. This was the first Zeppelin incident in which fatalities occurred.
13 October
Imperial German Air Force-Lt. Koening {Aviator # 166} killed in crash near Neuendorf Aerodrome near Berlin. Lts Soren and Rohstadt are injured while taking a flight between Berlin and Stuttgart [45]
17 October
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin L 2, LZ18, destroyed by an exploding engine during a test flight - the entire crew of 28 was killed.[46]
24 November
Lieuts. Eric Lamar Ellington and Hugh M. Kelly of the 1st Aero Squadron, United States Army Aviation Corps, are killed this date in a fall of about eighty feet in a Wright Model C, Signal Corps 14. The accident occurred at ~0758 hrs. across the bay from San Diego, California on the grounds of the army school on North Island. On impact, the engine broke free, crushing the two aviators.[47] These were the eleventh and twelfth Army aviation casualties.[48] Ellington Field, Texas, which opens on 1 November 1917, is named for Lt. Ellington.[49]
7 December
A Royal Aircraft Factory B.E.2a, 235, flown by factory test pilot Lt. Norman Spratt crashed at the Farnborough Aerodrome, pilot surviving.[50]

1914[edit]

9 February
U.S. Army Lt. Henry Post exceeds his previous altitude records by reaching 12,140 feet. During descent, the Wright Model C, Signal Corps 10, aircraft sustained damage (wing collapsed) and crashed into San Diego Bay,[44] killing Lt. Post. On 24 February, due to a large number of accidents and deaths, an Army board at the Signal Corps, Aviation School, San Diego, condemned all pusher airplanes. This recommendation basically condemned all Wright aircraft, which were all pushers.[51]
16 February 
Lieutenant (jg) James M. Murray, Naval Aviator No. 10, on a flight at Pensacola, Florida, in the Burgess D-1 flying boat, crashes to the water from 200 feet and is drowned.[52]
9 March
Lieutenant Alejandro Bello Silva was a Chilean aviator who disappeared during his qualifying flight for certification as a military pilot. In the pre-dawn hours, this date, Lieutenant Silva was in the Lo Espejo aerodrome, where he was to take an examination to earn the designation Military Pilot. Bello and two companions had to complete the circuit from Lo Espejo to Culitrín, to Cartagena, and back to Lo Espejo, in the central region of Chile, in order to pass the exam. On the first attempt, the aviators had to return to base due to near-zero visibility caused by heavy fog. Bello damaged his aircraft during the landing, and switched to an 80 horsepower (60 kW) Sánchez-Besa biplane (tail number 13, nicknamed "Manuel Rodríguez") for the second attempt. He took off together with one companion and the instructor, who had to make an emergency landing for refueling. Nevertheless, Bello continued his route and was lost among the clouds. He was never seen again and many searches over time have failed to find any trace of him or his aircraft.[53][54]
12 May[55] or 25 May
First fatal mid-air between two machines of the Royal Flying Corps kills Capt. Ernest Vincent Anderson and his passenger Air Mechanic Henry Wifred Carter 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 crash on the nearby Aldershot Golf Course 10th Green. Both machines and all three airmen were from No. 5 Squadron, RFC.[56]
4 June
First fatal British seaplane accident kills Lt. T. S. Cresswell and Cmdr. A. Rice of the Royal Navy. While ascending from the Calshot Air Station, the Short S.128 they are flying passes over motorboat on Southampton Water where Short's test pilot Gordon Bell and Lt. Spencer Grey are watching flight. At height of just over 200 feet, seaplane appears to break up and plummets into sea, killing both occupants. Some witnesses say that they believed that the seaplane stalled and that the wings folded up as structural limits were exceeded.[10]
20 June
While the Austro-Hungarian airship Militärluftschiff III (or M.III) hovers over Fischamend testing new camera equipment, an Austro-Hungarian Army pilot tries to loop M.III in a Farman biplane. The airplane strikes the top of the airship, tearing a hole and igniting the escaping hydrogen gas. Both aircraft are destroyed, and both men in the airplane and all seven men aboard M.III are killed. It is the end of the Austro-Hungarian airship program.[57]
26 June
The prototype Bristol S.S.A. (for Single-Seat Armoured), c.n. 219, a Henri Coanda single-seat tractor biplane design intended for production France, crashes on landing at Filton when an undercarriage bracing wire fails. Pilot Harry Busteed slightly injured, but airframe is severely damaged. The French authorities however agree to accept delivery of the type at the Breguet factory, where it is rebuilt, and Bristol takes no further part in its development.[58]
26 July
Seventh aircraft erected at Tokorozawa Airfield, Japan, the Kaishiki Converted Type Mo (Maurice Farman Type), 7, crashed at this airfield while piloted by Capt. Tokugawa. When rebuilt, with completion on 19 January 1915, this 7th Type Mo 1913 became known as the Sawada Type No. 7, or more officially because of radical modifications, as the Kaishiki the 3rd Year Model.[59]
12 August
Sole Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.4, 628, crashlands at 1145 hrs. while being flown by Lt. Norman Spratt when one of the wheels collapsed, airframe overturning, sustaining such extensive damage that it is abandoned.[60]
8 September
Imperial Russian Army pilot Pyotr Nesterov attempted an aerial ramming against an Austro-Hungarian reconnaissance Albatros B.II with his Morane-Saulnier. He most likely tried to hit it with his landing gear but accidentally used his propeller instead. As a result, both planes crashed killing Nesterov and the two in the opposing aircraft over Zhovkva, Ukraine.
5 October
First aerial combat kill in history recorded when a Voisin pusher of Escadrille VB24, French Air Service, flown by Sgt. Joseph Frantz and Cpl. Quénault, downed a German two-seater Aviatik B.II, flown by Feldwebel Willhelm Schlichting with Oberleutnant Fritz von Zangen as observer,[61] over Jonchery, Reims, using what is believed to have been a Hotchkiss machine gun.[62]

1915[edit]

6 March
First fatal accident involving Japanese Naval aviators occurs when Yokosho Navy Type Mo Large Seaplane (Maurice Farman 1914 Seaplane), serial number 15, crashed at sea with Sub-Lieuts. Tozaburo Adachi and Takao Takerube, and W/O 3/c Hisanojo Yanase on board, all KWF.[63]
1 May
Air Mechanic William Thomas James McCudden of the Royal Flying Corps the elder brother of James McCudden VC died when his Bleriot had engine trouble and crashed on 1 May 1915 at Fort Grange, Gosport.
8 May
Lieutenant (jg) Melvin L. Stolz, student aviator, is killed in a crash of the AH-9 hydroaeroplane at Pensacola, Florida.[34]
3 August
The German Main Headquarters communique released in Amsterdam this date, and reported by Reuters, states that "A French captive balloon, which was torn from its anchorage during a thunderstorm, was caught by us north-west of Etain."[64]
12 September
A Royal Naval Air Service Short S.38, 65, and a Caudron G.III, 3282, collide at Eastchurch, both pilots killed.[65]
17 November
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin LZ52, L 18, destroyed in shed fire at Tondern during refilling.

1916[edit]

22 March
Soldato Pilot Amico of 71 Squadriglia, Regio Esercito, was killed when he stalled his Nieuport X, 1452, and crashed near Cascina Farello, Italy.[66]
7 June
Sergente Gefli of 71 Squadriglia, Regio Esercito, was killed when his Nieuport collided with another Nieuport during simulated combat and crashed near Villaverla, Italy.[66]
9 June
Lt.j.g. Richard Caswell Saufley of the U.S. Navy, designated Naval Aviator No. 14, is killed in the crash of a Curtiss Model E hydro-plane (seaplane), AH-8, over Santa Rosa Island [34] near Pensacola, Florida at the 8 hr., 51 min. mark of an attempted long-duration flight. Saufley Field, north of NAS Pensacola, is subsequently named for him.[67]
18 June
German ace Max Immelmann (17 victories) is killed at ~2215 hrs. when his Fokker E.III monoplane, 246-16, crashes after breaking up in the air when the interrupter gear malfunctions and he shoots away his own propeller. He had been engaging an F.E.2b piloted by 2nd Lt. G. R. Gubbin with Cpl. J. H. Waller as gunner.[68] Gubbin and Waller were credited with the victory, but another theory posits that Immelmann may have taken hits from friendly AAA, as the propeller failure would not necessarily have caused the complete airframe disintegration that occurred.
Afternoon of 27 June
Fokker's chief designer and test pilot Martin Kreutzer takes a Fokker D.I for a test flight, but when he kicks the rudder hard over, it jams and he is severely injured in the subsequent crash, dying in hospital the next day.[69][70]
3 September
Imperial German Army Zeppelin LZ86, LZ56, crashed when the fore and aft nacelles broke away from the ship's hull after a raid.
Night of 6 September
The Roland (Luftfahrzeug Gesellschaft mbH, or LFG) Adlershof, Berlin, Germany, aircraft plant burns, destroying seven complete aircraft, including the prototype LFG Roland C.III (and only one built), as well as ten fuselages. Assembly jigs and fixtures, models and some drawings are salvaged and production resumes a week later in commandeered Automobile Exhibition Hall.[71]
16 September
Two Imperial German Navy Zeppelins destroyed when L 6, LZ31, took fire during refilling of gas in its hangar at Fuhlsbüttel and burnt down together with L 9, LZ36.
21 September
One only prototype Avro 521 fighter, 1811, (a serial that duplicated one assigned to a Bleriot monoplane), assigned to Central Flying School Upavon, crashes killing pilot Lt. W. H. S. Garnett.[72]
26 September
Flying ace Leutnant Max Ritter von Mulzer (ten aerial victories credited), the first Bavarian fighter ace, first Bavarian ace recipient of the Pour le Merite, and first Bavarian knighted for his exploits, on this date sideslips Albatros D.I 426/16 into a hard bank, loses control, and crashes at Armee Flug Park 6, Valenciennes, with fatal result.[73]
28 October
Undercarriage of German fighter pilot Erwin Böhme, diving on a British fighter, strikes upper wing of ace Oswald Boelcke's Albatros D.II, also pursuing the same target. Fabric peels loose, aircraft disappears into cloud - when it emerges, the top wing is gone. Boelcke makes relatively "soft" landing, but as he habitually flew without a helmet, and in haste to take off had not properly secured his seatbelt, he was killed on impact. He was 25, and was credited with 40 victories. Jasta 2 is officially named "Jasta Boelcke" on 17 December 1916 in honour of its former commander.
7 November
Imperial German Army Zeppelin LZ90, LZ60, broke loose in the direction of the North Sea in a storm and never seen again.
8 November
Lieutenant Clarence K. Bronson, Naval Aviator No. 15, and Lieutenant Luther Welsh, on an experimental bomb test flight at Naval Proving Ground, Indian Head, Maryland, were instantly killed by the premature explosion of a bomb in their plane.[34]
13 November
Sole prototype of the Zeppelin-Lindau (Dornier) V1, a single-seat, all-metal fighter with pod-type fuselage and pusher 160 hp (120 kW) Maybach Mb III engine, designed by Dipl-Ing Claudius Dornier, and built by the Abteilung 'Dornier' of the Luftschiffbau Zeppelin GmbH at Seemoos, near Friedrichshafen, attempts initial flight. After a series of ground hops in September by Bruno E. Schröter, this pilot refused to fly the prototype due to pronounced tail-heaviness. Oblt. Haller von Hallerstein, instead undertakes initial flight this date, but the V1 performs a loop immediately after take-off, crashing, killing pilot. No further development undertaken of the type.[74]
12 December
Sole prototype of Kishi No.2 Tsurugi-go ("Sword" type) Aeroplane, 'II', single-engine pusher biplane, makes first and last flight when Lt. Inoue lifts off, immediately banks sharply to port, wingtip contacts ground, airframe cartwheels sustaining considerable damage. Cause of accident assumed to be due to the sweptback wing design.[75]
28 December
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin LZ69 L 24, crashed into a wall while being "stabled", broke its back, and burned out together with L 17, LZ53.
29 December
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin LZ84 L 38, damaged beyond repair in a forced landing (due to heavy snowfall) during an attempted raid on Reval and Saint Petersburg.

1917[edit]

Sqn Cdr E. H. Dunning landing aboard HMS Furious in the Scapa Flow, in a Sopwith Pup, believed to have been N6453, 2 August 1917, five days before his fatal third attempt.
1 January
Five Royal Naval Air Service crew en route from Manston, England to Villacoublay, France in a Handley Page 0/100 bomber, run into clouds, lose their direction due to a compass fault, and land to ask directions. Unfortunately, they come down behind German lines at Chalandry, near Lâon, France, and before they can either burn the machine or take off, a German infantry patrol captures them and their intact bomber. An unconfirmed story states that Manfred von Richthofen flew this machine to 10,000 feet before the Kaiser at a later date.[76] Another source cites 2 February as the date of this incident.[77]
21 January
Sergente Menegoni of 71 Squadriglia, Regio Esercito, was killed when his Nieuport 11, 1622, suffered a structural failure of the wing struts and crashed.[66]
28 January
Royal Aircraft Factory test pilot Maj. Frank W. Goodden is killed in the second prototype S.E.5, A4562 at RAE Farnborough, when it breaks up in flight. At the time of his death, Goodden was one of Britain's most experienced pilots. Inspection found that the wings had suffered failure in downward torsion. Plywood webs were added to the compression ribs, curing the trouble and were standardized on all later S.E.5s and 5a's.[78][79]
7 February
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin LZ82 L 36, damaged during landing in fog at Rheden upon Aller and decommissioned.
26 March
Ex-Royal Flying Corps pilot J. B. Fitzsimmons is killed while engaging in some low level aerobatics in a high wind in the sole Nestler Scout (no serial) when the fabric began stripping from the wings. Fitzsimmons crashes into a hangar and the airframe is wrecked. No further development work takes place on the design.[80]
June
During this month, six Russian Anatra D biplanes crash due to poor quality manufacturing, killing their pilots. The Russian aircraft builder was hampered by a shortage of high-quality wood and fabricated each wing spar in two pieces, overlapping at the joint by only 12 inches, held together with glue and tape.[81]
16 June
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin L 40, LZ88, damaged beyond repair in a failed landing at Nordholz Airbase.
July
Even though Vickers already had experience in building promising tractor scouts, and the pusher-style Gunbus had been outmoded for two years in the presence of dedicated dogfighters, the company built one prototype Vickers F.B.25, powered by a 150-hp. direct-drive Hispano-Suiza engine in 1917, armed with one 1.59 inch Breech-Loading Vickers Q.F. Gun, Mk II (popularly known as the "Vickers Crayford rocket gun") in the nose as an anti-airship night fighter. A ten-inch searchlight was intended to be fitted in the extreme nose but there is no evidence that this was ever installed. Design underwent trials at Martlesham Heath in late June or early July, but crashed whilst landing in a strong wind, a trials report stating that due to poor controls, the aircraft proved to be "almost unmanageable in a wind over 20 mph". The serial of this aircraft is not known, although a document, traced recently, refers to it as No. "13", and it has been suggested that this may indicate A9813 - formerly a cancelled number intended for a Sopwith Triplane.[82]
21 July
French test pilot/instructor Jean Robinet, awarded Aviator's Certificate No. 476[83] by the Aéro-Club de France on 29 April 1911,[84] is KWF an Anatra D at the Anatra Factory, Odessa, Russia, this date.[85]
7 August
Squadron Commander Edwin H. Dunning, RNAS, (17 July 1892 - 7 August 1917) during landing attempt aboard HMS Furious, Pennant number 47, in Sopwith Pup, N6452, decides to go around before touchdown, but Le Rhône rotary engine chokes, Pup stalls and falls into the water off the starboard bow. Pilot stunned, drowns in the 20 minutes before rescuers reach still-floating airframe. Dunning had made two previous successful landings on Furious, the first-ever aboard a moving vessel.[86]
25 August
Sole Vickers F.B.26 Vampire, B1484, piloted by Vickers test pilot Harold Barnwell, crashes at Joyce Green, when he attempts a spin without sufficient altitude for recovery. Pilot KWF.[87]
17 September
A kite balloon from the USS Huntington was hit by a squall and while being hauled down struck the water so hard that the observer, Lieutenant (jg) Henry W. Hoyt, was knocked out of the basket and caught underwater in the balloon rigging. As the balloon was pulled toward the ship, Patrick McGunigal, Ships Fitter First Class, (30 May 1876 - 19 January 1936) jumped overboard, cleared the tangle and put a line around Lieutenant Hoyt so that he could be hauled up on deck. For this act of heroism, McGunigal was later awarded the Medal of Honor,[88] the first of the Great War. The Huntington was convoying six troopships across the Atlantic to France and the balloon observation was being made as it transited the war zone.
19 October
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin LZ50 L 16, damaged beyond repair in a forced landing near Brunsbüttel.
29 October
Lt. Heinrich Gontermann, known as the Balloon Strafer, receives fatal injuries when the Fokker Dr.I 115/17, of Jasta 15, he is performing aerobatics over his airfield at 1,500 feet in, suffers structural failure as the top wing breaks up, crashes, suffers grievous facial injuries, dies the following day. The Triplane had been delivered to Jasta 15 on 22 October but foul weather kept it grounded until the 28th. Gontermann had scored 21 airplane kills and 18 balloons.[89]
31 October
Fokker Dr.I 121/17, flown by Lt. Pastor from Jasta 11, one of the JG.1 units under Manfred von Richthofen, suffers structural failure and crashes. Second such crash in three days causes all Fokker Triplanes to be grounded immediately with affected flight crew reverting temporarily to Albatros D.Va and Pfalz D.III scouts. Accidents are investigated 2 November, reports issued 13 days later. Instructions for manufacturing and assembly improvements are implemented, production and flying resume 28 November.[10]
22 November
A Tellier T.3 seaplane piloted by U.S. Navy Ensign Kenneth R. Smith, with Electrician's Mate Wilkinson and Machinist's Mate Brady on board, was forced down at sea on a flight out of NAS LeCroisic, France, to investigate the reported presence of German submarines south of Belle Isle. Two days later, and only minutes before their damaged aircraft sank, they were rescued by a French destroyer. It was the first armed patrol by a U.S. Naval Aviator in European waters.[88]
December
Second prototype Sopwith Snipe, B9963, tricky to fly as its 230 hp (170 kW) Bentley BR2 rotary engine had immense torque that made directional control difficult, as well as being tail heavy while climbing, and nose heavy while diving, crashes, probably at RAE Farnborough, England.[90] This airframe may have been a rebuild of B.R.1-engined prototype.[91]
1 December 
A Caproni Ca.4 bomber, c/n 5349,[92] which arrived at Langley Field, Virginia, as part of a shipment of various Italian aircraft in September 1917, but whose erection was delayed by lack of an appropriate hangar, is finally readied for flight on this date. Upon takeoff, one motor fails and unable to maintain airspeed on the remaining two powerplants, the airframe piles up on the edge of the field. No injuries, but the airframe is a total loss.[93]
12 December
North Sea class blimp N.S.5 sets off for RNAS East Fortune, but both engines fail within sight of her destination, and she drifts with the wind for about 10 miles (16 km) before they can be restarted. However, since both engines continue to be troublesome it is decided to make a "free balloon" landing, but the ship is damaged beyond repair during the attempt.

1918[edit]

Early 1918
Sole prototype of the Curtiss CB (Curtiss Battleplane), unofficially known as the "Liberty Battler", 34632, an experimental two-seat fighter developed and flown early in this year as a result of difficulties being experienced with the Liberty-engined version of the Bristol F2B, proves to have extremely poor handling characteristics and subsequently crashes early in its test programme.[94] Three additional airframes, 34633-34635, cancelled.[95]
5 January
Imperial German Navy Zeppelin, L 47, LZ87, destroyed by a giant explosion at the air base in Ahlhorn, along with L 46, LZ94, L 51, LZ97, and L 58, LZ105, and one non-Zeppelin-type airship, stabled in three adjacent hangars. This is supposed to have been an accident, though sabotage could not be ruled out.
7 February
During U.S. Navy tests of a converted Curtiss N-9 biplane as an unpiloted flying bomb, equipped with a Sperry automatic control, Lawrence Sperry takes it up to prove airworthiness of the design, crashes, but pilot unhurt.[96]
Night of 7/8 March
Captain Henry Clifford Stroud (July 1893 - 7 March 1918)[97] of No. 61 Squadron RFC, Rochford Aerodrome, Essex, flying an S.E.5a, B679, and Capt Alexander Bruce Kynoch (5 January 1894 - 7 March 1918) of No. 37 Squadron RFC in a Royal Aircraft Factory BE 12, C3208,[98][99] out of Stow Maries Aerodrome, Essex, are killed in a midair collision over Shotgate about midnight.[100] Kynoch took off at 2329 hrs. while Stroud took off at 2330 hrs., both attempting to intercept a German raider headed for London, but collided on a moonless night, both coming down in Dollymans Farm.[101] Stroud is buried in the churchyard of St. Andrews Church in Rochford. Kynoch is buried in St. Pancras and Islington Cemetery in north London.[102]
10 March
Sole prototype Nieuport B.N.1, C3484, operating out of Sutton's Farm, a home aerodrome, Great Britain, catches fire in the air and is destroyed. No further development undertaken.[103]
28 March
Sole prototype of the Breguet LE (Laboratoire Eiffel), a single-seat fighter monoplane, crashes on its second flight, out of Villacoublay, France, when it dives into the ground at full-throttle, killing pilot Jean Sauclière. Further development suspended.[104]
4 April
Royal Flying Corps SPAD 12, S.449/B6877, equipped with engine No. 9253, crashes during flight from Martlesham Heath to the Isle of Grain. Records do not indicate any attempts to repair or replace the sole example of this model received by the RFC.[105]
9 May
U.S. Army Maj. Harold Melville Clark accomplishes first three-island flight in the Hawaiian Islands when he and mechanic Sgt. Robert Gray depart from Fort Kamehameha in a Curtiss N-9 of the 6th Aero Squadron, make a stop in Maui, and then continue to the island of Hawaii. Clark encounters fog and darkness over the island, causing him to crash in the jungle near Hilo. Two days after the crash, Clark and Gray emerge from the Hawaiian jungle unhurt. According to Harold Richards in "The History of Army Aviation in Hawaii", Clark accomplished another "first" on this flight as he had agreed to deliver two letters from Oahu residents to their relatives on Hawaii. After emerging from the jungle, Clark delivers the letters to their intended recipients. Thus, Clark carried the first letters by airmail in the Hawaiian Islands.[106]
19 May
First prototype Sopwith Salamander, E5429, crashes during test program while with No. 65 Squadron when the pilot has to avoid a tender crossing the aerodrome responding to another crash.[107]
3 June
One Zeppelin-Staaken R.VI, a four-engined German biplane strategic bomber, modified as a float-equipped seaplane for the Marine-Fliegerabteilung (Imperial German Naval Air Service), with the designation Type L, serial 1432, using Maybach engines, first flown on 5 September 1917, crashes during testing on this date.[108][109]
8 June
First prototype Handley Page V/1500 bomber, E4104, powered by tandem pairs of Rolls-Royce Eagle engines, first flown on 22 May 1918, crashes on thirteenth flight while piloted by Capt. Vernon E. G. Busby when all four engines quit at 1,000 feet altitude (300 m), possibly due to fuel starvation. Pilot attempts turn back to airfield but stalls and spins in. Four riding in the forward fuselage are killed on impact, two in rear rescued before airframe is consumed by fire, but one dies later of injuries. As aircraft was destroyed by post-crash fire, no determination could be made of cause of accident. Although two V/1500s of 166 Squadron are ready for a mission on 8 November 1918, bad weather cancels raid, and with the armistice signed on 11 November 1918 the type never flies operationally.[110]
19 June
Lt. Frank Stuart Patterson, son and nephew of the co-founders of National Cash Register, is killed in the crash of his DH.4M, AS-32098, at Wilbur Wright Field during a flight test of a new mechanism for synchronizing machine gun and propeller, when a tie rod breaks during a dive from 15,000 feet (4,600 m), causing the wings to separate from the aircraft. Wishing to recognize the contributions of the Patterson family (owners of NCR) the area of Wright Field east of Huffman Dam (including Wilbur Wright Field, Fairfield Air Depot, and the Huffman Prairie) is renamed Patterson Field on 6 July 1931, in honor of Lt. Patterson.
9 July
The fourth-highest-scoring British ace of the Great War, Maj. James Thomas Byford McCudden, is killed when he side-slips into the ground while trying to return to the airfield at Auxi-le-Château after the engine of his S.E.5a cuts out. McCudden had taken off to fly to his new command, No. 60 Squadron RAF. He had 57 aerial victories.[111]
Between 27 July and 1 August
Third prototype Sopwith Salamander, E5431, crashes in France before a newly-applied disruptive camouflage scheme can be evaluated.[112]
28 July
Royal Air Force Sopwith Dolphin E4449 flown by Tone Bayetto crashed in Hampshire, England when the wings folded back and it dived into the ground from 200 feet.[113]
10 August
Lt. Erich Loewenhardt, third-highest-scoring German ace of the Great War, is KWF when the wheels of a Fokker D.VII flown by Lt. Alfred Wentz of Jasta 11 (also spelt Wenz in some sources) collide with the wing of his own Fokker D.VII, causing it to crash. He bails out but his chute fails to open. Lowenhardt, posted to JG.1, and flying with Jasta 10 from July 1917, scored 53 victories before his death. Wentz successfully bails out of his stricken fighter.[114]
13 August
Jarvis Jennes Offutt (1894–1918), becomes the first fatality among natives of Omaha, Nebraska in World War I, when his S.E.5 crashed during a training flight near Valheureux, France, and succumbs to his injuries. The Flying Field, Fort George Crook, Nebraska renamed Offutt Field, 6 May 1924.
16 August
Royal Navy Air Service airship, R27, destroyed in a hangar fire at RNAS Howden along with a makeshift SSZ class blimp and two SSZ class blimps, SSZ.38 and SSZ.54. One airman dies.
19 August
First of three crashes of new Fokker E.V. (Eindekker V, or monoplane five), six of which are delivered to Jasta 6 of the Imperial German Air Service on 7 August, to occur in a week, kills Leutnant Emil Rolff when wing fails, and, like the Fokker Triplane before it, the type is grounded for investigation. Problem traced to shoddy workmanship at the Mecklenburg factory where defective wood spars, water damage to glued parts, and pins carelessly splintering the members instead of securing them are discovered. Upon return to service two months later, design is renamed the Fokker D.VIII in an effort to distance type's reputation as a killer. Rolff had scored the first kill in the type on 17 August.[115][116]
24 August
U.S Army Maj. William Roy Ream, the first flying surgeon of the United States Army, becomes the first flight surgeon to die in an aircraft accident, at the Effingham, Illinois airport,[117] out of Chanute Field, Illinois, when his aircraft stalls/spins and crashes.[51][118] Later in 1918, the Army renames the Aviation Field at what is now Naval Outlying Landing Field Imperial Beach, California, originally opened in 1917, as Ream Field.
11 September
Third prototype Vickers Vimy, B9954, crashes during testing - stalls on takeoff with full load at Martlesham Heath, bomb load explodes, pilot killed.[119]
25 September
Chief Machinist's Mate Francis E. Ormsbee went to the rescue of two men in a aircraft which had crashed in Pensacola Bay, Florida. He pulled out the gunner and held him above water until help arrived, then made repeated dives into the wreckage in an unsuccessful attempt to rescue the pilot. For his heroism, Chief Ormsbee was awarded the Medal of Honor.[88]

1919[edit]

1 February
Flt. Lt. Frank Lloyd, attached to No. 61 Squadron RAF, left Rochford Aerodrome, Essex, in a Sopwith Camel biplane accompanied by another aircraft. His plane subsequently was flying very low over Westcliff-on-Sea, and just missing house roofs, it hit a trolley standard, then swerved and hit a large tree, removing many branches, turned over and crashed to the ground in allotments by Fairmead Avenue and burst into flames. Various people rushed to rescue Lloyd but he died of multiple injuries. He had been married just two weeks.[120]
4 February
First of three Bristol F.2C Badger prototypes, F3495, suffers crash landing when its 320 hp (240 kW) ABC Dragonfly I nine-cylinder radial engine fails during the type's first take-off due to an air lock in the fuel feed. Pilot Cyril Uwins unhurt.[121] Aircraft is subsequently rebuilt and flown.[122]
9 April
Second of only two Bristol M.R.1 metal-covered, two-seat biplanes built, A5178, powered by 180 hp Wolseley Viper engine,[123] flown by Capt. Frank Barnwell, strikes pine tree on approach to RAE Farnborough's North Gate and is written off.[124]
2 May
A U.S. Army seaplane en route on afternoon flight from Balboa, Panama to France Field, near present-day Colón, Panama, with three aviators on board, suffers engine failure shortly after departure. Pilot Lt. J. R. L. Hitt attempts landing on Miraflores Lake but aircraft falls short and hits the front of the Miraflores Locks of the Panama Canal at ~1700 hrs. Airframe crumples "like a house of cards", according to account published by the Panama Star & Herald on 3 May. Hitt, Lt. Thomas Cecil Tonkin, and Maj. Harold Melville Clark (4 October 1890 - 2 May 1919) are all thrown from the aircraft into the water of the lock. "Lieutenant Tonkin was undoubtedly killed instantly by the twisting timbers of the machine. ...Major Clark sank to the bottom of the lock, and it's not known whether he was killed in the crash or whether he drowned", stated the article. Hitt was severely injured in the crash, but was rescued by bystanders. The Panama Star & Herald reported that a diver was sent to retrieve Clark's body. The Army rules his death as an accident due to internal injuries caused by "aeroplane traumatism", according to a War Department report on Clark's death dated 8 May 1919, and awards his mother $10,000. Clark is buried 29 May 1919, with full military honors at Arlington National Cemetery. Clark had made the first-ever inter-island flight in the Hawaiian Islands on 15 March 1918, in a Curtiss N-9 of the 6th Aero Squadron. Fort Stotsenburg, established in the Philippines in 1902, is renamed Clark Air Base with the establishment of the U.S. Air Force in 1947.[106]
26 May
Monstrous Royal Air Force three-wing, six-engine Tarrant Tabor bomber, F1765, attempts first flight at Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough, noses over on lift-off, forward fuselage crushed back to the wing, both crew, Capts. F. G. Dunn and P. T. Rawlings killed. No second prototype is ever built.
The Tarrant Tabor F1765 after its crash
8 June
Biplane bomber, Cierva BCD3 (Barcala-Cierva-Diaz), designed by Juan de la Cierva, reminiscent of the German Gotha, powered by a trio of 220 hp Hispano Suiza engines, called El Cangrejo (The Crab), is destroyed on a test flight when it stalls close to the ground. Pilot, Capt. Julio Rios Argiieso[125][126] (also reported as Angueso),[127] is shaken up but survives. Project is abandoned.
2 July
U.S. Navy blimp C-8 explodes while landing at Camp Holabird, Maryland, injuring ~80 adults and children who were watching it. Windows in homes a mile away are shattered by the blast.[128][129]
15 July
Royal Navy North Sea class airship N.S.11 burns over the North Sea off Norfolk, England, killing twelve.[130][131] In the early hours of 15 July on what was officially supposed to be a mine-hunting patrol, she was seen to fly beneath a long "greasy black cloud" off Cley next the Sea on the Norfolk coast and a massive explosion was heard shortly after. A vivid glare lasted for a few minutes as the burning airship descended, and finally plunged into the sea after a second explosion. There were no survivors, and the findings of the official Court of Enquiry were inconclusive, but amongst other possibilities it was thought that a lightning strike may have caused the explosion.[132]
Summer
Sole flying prototype of Curtiss 18-B two-bay biplane version of 18-T triplane trainer, USAAS 40058, 'P-86', crashes early in flight trials at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio. Type not ordered into production. One non-flying prototype also delivered for static testing.[133]
1 August
Top World War I Russian ace Aleksandr Kazakov (32 kills, but only 20 officially)[134] is killed in the crash of what was probably a Sopwith Camel. On 1 August 1918 Kazakov became a major in the Royal Air Force and was appointed to be commanding officer in charge of an aviation squadron of the Slavo-British Allied Legion made up of Camels. After the British withdrawal from Russia which left the Russian White Army in a desperate situation, Kazakov died in a aircraft crash during an air show on this date which was performed to boost the morale of the Russian anti-Bolshevik troops. Most witnesses of the incident thought Kazakov committed suicide.[135]
8 October
During the first (and only) transcontinental reliability and endurance test, an air race between Roosevelt Field, Long Island, New York and the Presidio of San Francisco, California, Brig. Gen. Lionel Charlton, Royal Air Force, the British Air Attaché, hits a fence during a forced landing near Ithaca, New York in his Bristol F.2 Fighter, 2nd Lt. George C. McDonald hits a ditch when engine trouble in his unspecified type (probably a de Havilland) forces him down at Plymouth, Pennsylvania, and 1st Lt. D. B. Gish's DH-4 catches fire over Livingston County in western New York state, and he makes an emergency landing. Neither he, nor his passenger, Capt. Paul de la Vergne of the French air service and French Air Attaché, are injured, but the aircraft is written-off. A forced landing kills Sgt. W. H. Nevitt when the Liberty L-12 engine of the DH-4B piloted by Col. Gerald C. Brant fails after an oil line breaks. Plane plunges to the ground near Deposit, New York when power is lost on landing, killing Nevitt and injuring Brant. Of entrants flying from the Presidio to New York, one DH-4B crashes attempting to land at Salt Lake City, Utah, killing pilot Maj. Dana H. Crissy, commander of Mather Field, California, and his mechanic, SFC Virgil Thomas.[136] The flying field at the Presidio is subsequently named Crissy Field.
9 October
Continuing the cross-country contest, a DH-4B hits the side of a mountain W of Cheyenne, Wyoming, killing 1st Lt. Edwin V. Vales and badly injuring 2nd Lt. William C. Goldsborough.[136] Lt. A. M. Roberts and his observer survive a close call when, in an effort to make up for lost time, Roberts chooses the direct route, over Lake Erie, between Buffalo and Cleveland. His engine fails, and he has to ditch in the lake. Luckily, a passing freighter sees the crash and picks up the two men.[137]
10 October
On third day of transcontinental contest, an east-bound DH-4B, piloted by Maj. Albert Sneed, almost out of gas, makes fast landing at Buffalo, New York. Passenger Sgt. Worth C. McClure undoes his seatbelt and slides onto the rear fuselage to weight down the tail for a quicker stop. Plane bounces on landing, smashes nose-first into the ground, and McClure is thrown off and killed.[138]
15 October
Two more fatalities are recorded in the transcontinental endurance test when 2nd Lts. French Kirby and Stanley C. Miller die in an emergency landing in their DH-4 near the WyomingUtah border when they suffer engine failure near Evanston, Wyoming. During the two-week test, 54 accidents wreck or damage planes. Twenty-nine result from motor trouble, 16 from bad landings, 5 from poor weather, 2 when pilots lose their way, 1 in take-off, and 1 by fire. In 42 cases the accident meant the end of the race for the pilot. Seven fatalities occur during the race, one in a de Havilland DH-4B, the others in DH-4s.[139] Lt. John Owen Donaldson was awarded the Mackay Gold Medal for taking first place in the Army's only transcontinental air race.[140] Donaldson Air Force Base, South Carolina, would be eventually named for the Great War ace (eight credited victories).
Autumn
A Caquot Type R observation balloon, manufactured by Goodyear, being deflated at Fort Sill, Oklahoma, explodes, with 24 soldiers handling sand bags on the leeward side of the balloon receiving burns. A dramatic photo exists of men bolting away from the airship as it ignites.[141] Nearly 1,000 were manufactured in 1918–1919. A Type R is displayed at the National Museum of the United States Air Force, thought to be the sole survivor of some manufactured in Great Britain during WW II.[142]

1920[edit]

1 February
World War I American ace (twelve victories) Field Eugene Kindley is killed in a crash at Kelly Field near San Antonio, Texas, during a demonstration flight for General John J. Pershing. A control cable snaps on the Royal Aircraft Factory S.E.5 biplane Kindley is flying, AS-8137, of the 96th Aero Squadron,[143] he stalls, falls from an altitude of 100 feet.[144] Kindley Air Force Base, Bermuda, is later named for him. Other sources give his crash date as both 2 February and 3 February.
17 March
Nieuport 28C-1, U.S. Navy BuNo A5794, crashes on turret on takeoff from USS Arizona, operating in Caribbean waters. Obtained from Army after Armistice.
19 April
Two aircraft written-off in separate accidents at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C.[145]
22 April
Three more aircraft are wrecked at Bolling Field, Washington, D.C.[136]
22 May
Bristol F.2C Badger partial prototype, completed in 1919 for aerodynamic tests, using Armstrong-Siddeley Puma engine, but only the wings and undercarriage of the Badger design (and locally referred to as the Badger X - for experimental) crashes this date. It is entered on the civil register as K110, AFTER it has already been written off.[37]
19 June
U.S. Navy D class blimp, A4450, is destroyed by fire [146] at the Goodyear Wingfoot Lake Airship Base, Suffield Township, Portage County, Ohio.[147]
5 July
Dundalk Flying Field, opened in Baltimore, Maryland in 1920, is almost immediately renamed Logan Field when, on this date, Army Lt. Patrick H. Logan is fatally injured after his Nieuport 28, F6506,[148] nicknamed the "Red Devil", of the 104th Observation Squadron,[143] crashes at the airport's inaugural air show following a stall/spin.[149] In response to the tragedy, the airfield is renamed in his honor, with the announcement of the new name being made at the closing ceremonies of the airshow during which he died.
12 August
Lt. William Calvin Maxwell, 28, of the 3d Aero Squadron, Camp Stotsenberg in Luzon, Philippines, a native of Atmore, Alabama, is killed in an aviation crash in the Philippines. While on a flight from Camp Stotsenberg to Manila,[150] engine trouble forced Lt. Maxwell to attempt to land his DH-4 in a sugarcane field. Maneuvering to avoid a group of children playing below, he struck a flagpole hidden by the tall sugarcane and was killed instantly. On the recommendation of his former commanding officer, Maj. Roy C. Brown, Montgomery Air Intermediate Depot, Montgomery, Alabama, was renamed Maxwell Field on 8 November 1922.[151]
2 October
U.S. Navy Lt. Cdr. William Merrill Corry, Jr. (5 October 1889 – 6 October 1920), of Quincy, Florida, designated Naval Aviator No. 23 in March 1916, while on a flight from Long Island, New York, with another pilot, the aircraft crashes, with Corry earning the Medal of Honor "for heroic service in attempting to rescue a brother officer from a flame-enveloped airplane near Hartford, Connecticut. On 2 October 1920, an airplane in which Lieutenant Commander Corry was a passenger crashed and burst into flames. He was thrown 30 feet clear of the aircraft and, though injured, rushed back to the burning machine and endeavored to release the pilot. In so doing he sustained serious burns, from which he died four days later." [152] In 1923, Corry Field, a new satellite airfield for Naval Air Station Pensacola, is named in his honor. Three U.S. Navy destroyers have been named USS Corry, a Clemson-class in 1921, a Gleaves-class in 1941, and a Gearing-class, in 1945.

1921[edit]

23 March
In an all-night training flight, a U.S. Navy free balloon, A-5597, launches from NAS Pensacola, Florida, with five crew and drifts over the Gulf of Mexico. Two messages received by pigeon indicate it first is 20 miles from St. Andrews Bay, then that all ballast had been dropped and that it was at 100 feet and descending. On 8 April 1921, a fishing vessel finds the balloon floating on the sea, with the gondola three and a half fathoms under water.[153] Nothing is ever found of Chief Quartermaster E. W. Wilkinson, enlisted men R. V. Wyland, E. L. Kershaw, and J. P. Elder, and Marine Corps member W. H. Tressey.[154]
Rescuers scramble across the wreckage of British R-38/USN ZR-2 airship, 24 August 1921.
28 May
Seven men, five of the Army and two civilians, were killed in the wreck of an Army Curtiss Eagle ambulance airplane, USAAS 64243,[155] of the 1st Provisional Air Brigade,[156] at Morgantown, Maryland, near Indian Head, 40 miles southeast of Washington, in a terrific wind and electrical storm at 1825 hrs. The dead were: Lieutenant Colonel Archie Miller, U.S.A., M. H., Washington, D.C.; Maurice Connolly of Dubuque, Iowa, formerly a member of the United States House of Representatives; A. G. Batchelder of Washington, chairman of the Board of the American Automobile Association; Lieutenant Stanley M. Ames of Washington, pilot of the wrecked plane; Lieutenant Cleveland M. McDermott, Langley Field, Virginia; Lieutenant John M. Pennewill, Langley Field, Virginia; and Sergeant Mechanic Richard Blumenkranz, Washington. Army Air Service officers said the accident was the worst in the history of aviation in the United States and that it was one of the few in which all of the passengers in a falling aircraft had been killed almost instantly. The ship struck the ground nose first and the impact was so great that the big 400-horsepower Liberty motor in the front end of the craft was torn from its chassis and thrown back into the cockpit on top of the pilot and the passengers. All the bodies were mutilated. The Curtiss-Eagle was returning from a trip to Langley Field, near Newport News, Virginia, where it had departed at 1630 hrs., and had just crossed the Potomac River, when it ran into the storm which had passed over Washington an hour before.[157]
7 July
US Navy Airship C-3 burns at Naval Air Station Hampton Roads, Norfolk, Virginia[158]
12 July
Major Sheldon Harley Wheeler is killed in the crash of DH-4B, AS-63525,[159] on take off from Luke Field, Ford Island, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands. He was commander of Luke Field at the time of his death. In February 1922 construction began on a new airfield in the Wahiawa District of the Island and on 11 November it was named Wheeler Field in his honour.
19 July
USAAS pilot 1st Lt. Willard S. Clark is killed at Ellington Field, Texas, when his Orenco D enters a spin at low altitude and plunges to the ground. All aircraft manufactured in this batch are grounded.[160]
24 August
During its fourth flight, the British airship R38 (ZR-2), due to be delivered to the United States Navy as the ZR-2, broke in two on a test flight near Hull, England, the forward half falling into the Humber River whereupon spilt gasoline on the water caught fire, while the stern, not in flames, settled on a sandbar. The ship had been undergoing turning trials, at 63 mph at 2,500 feet, with the rudders worked to their maximum, causing the lightweight structure to fail.[161] 44 died, including British Air Commodore E.M. Maitland, Leader of Airships, and 16 Americans.[162][163] Maxfield Field at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey, named 6 January 1944 in honor of Commander Louis H. Maxfield, Naval Aviator No. 17, who lost his life in the R38 crash.[164]
31 August
U.S. Navy airship D-6, A5972, with a C-type envelope built by Goodyear in 1920 and a special enclosed car built by the Naval Aircraft Factory, is destroyed [165] in the Naval Air Station Rockaway hangar gasoline[166]fire[167] along with two small dirigibles, the C-10 and the Goodyear airship H-1, A5973, the sole H-model, a powered two-seat observation balloon built along the lines of the commercial Goodyear "Pony Blimp",[168] and the kite balloon A-P.
29 September
First Orenco D manufactured by Curtiss, 63281, McCook Project Number 'P163', loses entire leading edge of its upper wing, crashing at McCook Field, Ohio. An investigation by an officer of the flying test section of the USAAS Engineering Division reveals that the Orenco Ds are badly constructed, no fewer than 30 defects and faulty fittings being recorded in the published report, forcing the Air Service to withdraw all Orenco Ds from use (Joe Baugher cites date of 28 September).[160]
28 December
Second Lieutenant Samuel Howard Davis (1896–1921) is killed in the crash of Curtiss JN-6HG-1 (possibly USAAS serial 44796, seen wrecked at Carlstrom AAF, date unknown)[169] in which he was a passenger, at Carlstrom Field, Arcadia, Florida. Davis-Monthan Landing Field, later Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, is named in part for him, 1 November 1925. He attended high school in that community.[170]

1922[edit]

21 February
U.S. Army semi-rigid (blimp with a keel) Roma, bought from Italy, formerly T34, suffers control box failure at stern in flight, nosed into the ground, struck power lines at Army supply base, Norfolk, Virginia, and burst into flames, killing 34 of 45 on board, including Capt. Dale Mabry, its commander. This would remain the worst American aviation accident until the loss of the USS Akron in 1933.[171]
22 February 1922 Langley Field base newspaper extra edition about the Roma Tragedy
Accident spurs American lighter-than-air operations to switch to helium, less buoyant than hydrogen, but non-inflammable. Dale Mabry Municipal Airport in Tallahassee, Florida, that city's first airport, was named after Mabry, a Tallahassee native.
21 February
U.S. Marine Corps Naval Aircraft Factory F-5-L, A-3591, of VS-1M, crashed during a night flight, this date.[172]
June
Sole prototype of the Royal Air Force Vickers Valentia flying boat, N124, which was constructed between 1918 and 1921, and completed by S.E. Saunders of Cowes, Isle of Wight, crashes and is written off.[173]
17 June 
Army airmen Lieutenant Robert O. Hanley (also reported as Robert E. Hanley) and Sergeant Arthur Opperman are killed near Louisville, Kentucky, when their DH.4, U.S. Army Air Service serial number not recorded, crashes while making a sharp banking turn. Airframe destroyed by post-crash fire.[174] The men were airborne to photograph the airshow that was to shortly begin.[175] The aircraft was assigned to the 7th Photo Section at Godman Field, Camp Knox, Kentucky.[176]
23 September
A Martin NBS-1 bomber, Air Service 68487, Raymond E. Davis, pilot,[177] nose dived and crashed from an estimated altitude of 500 feet on a residential street near Mitchel Field, Mineola, New York, killing the six military personnel on board. At the time, the aircraft was involved in a night time war game display that was lit by searchlights and watched by an estimated crowd of 25,000 spectators.[178]
October
Hangar fire at Martlesham Heath, Great Britain, destroys a number of captured aircraft from the Great War.
14 October 
The Navy-Wright NW-1, BuNo A-6543, a racer designed and built in a mere three months, flew for the first time on 11 October 1922, just days before it was entered in the 14 October 1922 Pulitzer air race at Selfridge Field, Michigan. Entered at the last minute, the press dubbed the new entry, the Mystery Racer. Assigned to the second of three heats, and wearing race number 9, the close-fitting cowling over the Wright T-2 engine retained heat and caused the oil temperature to exceed its operating limit. Streaming smoke around the race course, the pilot was over Lake St. Clair, near Detroit when the red-hot engine failed. "The extreme low position of the lower wing was not conducive to ditching and the "Mystery Racer" flipped over and sank in the mud. The aircraft was written-off but the pilot emerged unscathed."[179]
17 October
U.S. Army's largest blimp, C-2, catches fire shortly after being removed from its hangar at Brooks Field, San Antonio, Texas for a flight. Seven of eight crew aboard are injured, mostly in jumping from the craft. This accident was made the occasion for official announcement by the Army and the Navy that the use of hydrogen would be abandoned "as speedily as possible."[180] On 14 September 1922, the C-2 had made the first transcontinental airship flight, from Langley Field, Virginia, to Foss Field, California, under the command of Maj H. A. Strauss.[51]
22 October
1st Lt. Harold Ross Harris (1897–1988) becomes the first member of the U.S. Army Air Service to save his life by parachute, when the Loening PW-2A, (probably AS-64388), he is testing out of McCook Field, Ohio, suffers vibration, loses part of left wing or aileron, so he parts company with the airframe, landing safely.[181] Two sources gives the date as 20 October.[51][182] McCook Field personnel create the "Caterpiller Club" for those whose lives are saved by parachute bail-out with Harris the plank-holding member.
11 November
1st Lt. Frank B. Tyndall is the second U.S. Army Air Service pilot to utilize a parachute in a life-saving effort when the Boeing-built MB-3A, (probably AS-68380) he is testing at Seattle, Washington sheds its wings in flight almost directly over the Boeing factory.[136] He would later perish on 15 July 1930 in the crash of Curtiss P-1F Hawk, 28-61, near Mooresville, North Carolina. Tyndall Air Force Base is named in his honor.
12 November
Lt. Cdr. Godfrey DeCourcelles Chevalier, a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in June 1910, who was appointed a Naval Air Pilot No. 7 on 7 November 1915 and a Naval Aviator No. 7 on 7 November 1918, crashes in a Vought VE-7 while en route from NAS Norfolk to Yorktown, Virginia, dying in Portsmouth Naval Hospital on 14 November as a result of his injuries.[183] On 26 October 1922 Lieutenant Commander Chevalier made the first landing on the USS Langley's deck, the U.S. Navy's first aircraft carrier, in an Aeromarine 39-B, A-606.[184]
7 December
DH-4B, AS-63780, departs Rockwell Field, San Diego, California at 0905 hrs. bound for Fort Huachuca, Arizona, piloted by 1st Lt. Charles L. Webber with Col. Francis C. Marshall aboard for an inspection trip of cavalry posts and camps. When aircraft never arrives, one of the largest man-hunts in Air Service history is mounted but when search is finally given up on 23 February 1923 nothing had been found. Wreckage is eventually discovered 12 May 1923 by a man hunting stray cattle in the mountains. Flight apparently hit Cuyamaca Peak just a few miles east of San Diego in fog within thirty minutes of departure.[185]

1923[edit]

5 March
Martin GMT (Glenn Martin Transatlantic), USAAS 62949, McCook Field project code 'P-87', loses power on one of two Liberty engines while en route to Chanute Field, Illinois, is unable to stay aloft on one only, crashes. Pilot Maj. Bradley escapes injury, but Lt. Stanley Smith is fatally injured.[186]
21 April
Capt. Walter Ralls "Tiny" Lawson, Sr.[187] (b. 23 October 1893) is killed along with four other crew when his Martin MB-2 bomber, 64205, of the 20th Bombardment Squadron, 2d Bombardment Group, crashes into the Great Miami River in high winds shortly after take off from McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio,[155] the same aircraft he piloted with the 1st Provisional Air Brigade during bomb tests out of Langley Field that sank the former German battleship SMS Ostfriesland. The Army named the balloon landing facility at Fort Benning, in his home state of Georgia, Lawson Field in his honor in August 1931. After World War II the name of Second Lieutenant Ted W. Lawson was added to his, giving the parsimonious post war Army two memorials for the price of one. The second Lawson was author of Thirty Seconds Over Tokyo, a memoir of his experiences as a pilot on the historic World War II raid led by the first Lawson's fellow pilot in the 1st Provisional Air Brigade, Jimmy Doolittle. At the time of his death, the senior Lawson was commanding officer of the 20th Bombardment Squadron.[188]
31 July
RAF Bristol F.2B, E2431, crashes at RAF (Cadet) College, Cranwell, when it stalls during landing. Aircraft was marked incorrectly 1342E.[189]
15 September
Major Edward L. Napier, a native of Union Springs, Alabama, is killed in the crash of a Fokker D.VII, AS-5382,[190] at McCook Field, Dayton, Ohio, He had been a Medical Corps Officer in the Great War and had transferred to the Army Air Corps. He was receiving training as a flight surgeon at the time of his death. The official report states that he was piloting the aircraft himself and there was a structural failure of a wing.[191] In 1941, the U.S. Army Air Corps will open Napier Field at Dothan, Alabama, named in his honor.
23 September
1st Lts. Robert Stanford Olmsted [150] and John W. Shoptaw enter U.S. Army balloon S-6 in international balloon race from Brussels, despite threatening weather which causes some competitors to drop out. S-6 collides with Belgian balloon, Ville de Bruxelles on launch, tearing that craft's netting and knocking it out of the race. Lightning strikes S-6 over Nistelrode, the Netherlands, killing Olmsted outright, and Shoptaw in the fall. Switzerland's Génève is also hit, burns, killing two on board, as is Spain's Polar, killing one crew immediately, second crewman jumps from 100 feet, breaking both legs. Three other balloons are also forced down.[192][193] Middletown Air Depot, Pennsylvania, was renamed Olmsted AFB on 11 March 1948.[150]
18 November
The first aerial refueling-related fatality occurs during an air show at Kelly Field, Texas, when the fuel hose becomes entangled in the right wings of the refueler and the receiver aircraft. The Army Air Service pilot of the refueler, Lt. P. T. Wagner, is killed in the ensuing crash of DH-4B, 23-444.[51][190]
23 November
First of only three Bristol Jupiter Fighters, essentially adaptations of the Bristol F.2B airframe converted with 425 hp (317 kW) Bristol Jupiter IV engines and oleo-type undercarriage, crashes due to an engine seizure at high altitude. Second conversion was sold to Sweden in May 1924, and third was converted to a dual-control trainer.[194]
30 November
Second of two prototypes of the Short Springbok Mk. I, J6975, crashes near Martlesham when it spins in shortly after take off, killing the pilot. Cause is diagnosed as rudder blanking during spinning and a new wing design is prepared for the Short Springbok Mk. II, of which six examples - later reduced to three - are ordered in 1924.[195]
21 December
The French Navy airship Dixmude, formerly the German LZ114, is lost over the Mediterranean in a storm in early morning with the loss of all 44 of her crew.

1924[edit]

16 January 
While moored at NAS Lakehurst, New Jersey, USS Shenandoah's upper tail fin covering is ripped during a gale, and the sudden roll tears out her mooring tube from the Lakehurst mast. Damage to the nose deflates the first gas bag and holes the second. Zeppelin test pilot Anton Heinen rides out the storm and lands safely while the airship is being blown backwards.[196] A period of repair is needed, and a proposed Arctic expedition is scrapped.
ZR-1's bow following the January storm.
23 February
Lt. John S. Ansley of the 111th Observation Squadron, Texas National Guard, crashes in Curtiss JN-4H, 24-158,[197] (one source gives the type as a Curtiss JN-6 [47]) at Ellington Field, Texas, when he enters a tailspin during practice, but at insufficient altitude to recover, the airframe smashing into a pile of stacked lumber. The pilot dies later in hospital.
21 March
Martin GMB (Glenn Martin Bomber), USAAS 64308, ex-Post Office (possibly 202), ends cross-country flight to Parris Island, South Carolina, noses over when it hits unmarked ditch on the airfield. Pilot 1st Lt. (later Lieutenant General) Harold L. George reported later that "I also remember being told that it (Parris Island) was an exceptional landing field. It was except that the information had failed to inform me that the Marines had dug a trench across the field. This was not indicated by markers, or in any other way. I didn't know the trench was there until we stopped quickly."[186] Airframe had only logged 99 hours when it was written off.
27 March
British-born 2nd Lt. Oscar Monthan (1885–1924) is killed when his Martin NBS-1 bomber, AS-68448, of the 5th Composite Group, fails to clear baseball field backstop on take-off from Luke Field, Ford Island, Oahu, Hawaiian Islands. Davis-Monthan Landing Field, later Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Tucson, Arizona, is named in part for him, 1 November 1925. He attended high school in that community.[15]
30 April
One of the four Douglas World Cruiser aircraft, the "Seattle", 23-1229, c/n 145,[198] attempting an around-the-globe flight in stages, crashes into a mountain in Alaska on this date. The crew, Major Frederick L. Martin and Staff Sergeant Alva L. Harvey, survive and make their way through the wilderness to safety. The wreckage of the "Seattle" is later recovered and is now on display in the Alaska Aviation Heritage Museum.
2 June 
Assisting the U.S. Weather Bureau in research, the USAAS Balloons and Airship School schedules fifteen balloon flights from Scott Field, Illinois, for Dr. C. LeRoy Meisinger, who had gained experience with balloons and meteorology as an Air Service officer during the war. The project ends with the tenth flight, this date, when lightning strikes the balloon, killing both Dr. Meisinger and his pilot, 1st Lt. James M. G. T. Neely.[199][200]
2 August
One of the three surviving Douglas World Cruiser aircraft, the "Boston", 23-1231, c/n 147,[198] loses oil pressure while flying west over the North Atlantic, has to alight on the open sea. Crew is rescued, but during an attempt to tow the float aircraft by the USS Richmond, the aircraft capsizes in rough seas and has to be abandoned near the Faroe Islands.[201]
15 September
A Curtiss N-9 seaplane, equipped with radio control and without a human pilot aboard, was flown on a 40-minute flight at the Naval Proving Grounds, Dahlgren, Virginia. Although the aircraft sank from damage sustained while landing, this test demonstrated the practicability of radio control of aircraft.[202]
16 October
Emergency use of parachute — Following a mid-air collision over Coronado, California, Gunner William M. Coles, USN, of VF-1, made a successful emergency parachute jump from his Curtiss JN.[202]
20 October
RAF Vickers Virginia Mk II J6856 of 7 Squadron is severely damaged in a force landing at Bishop's Stortford, Hertfordshire following an engine failure. The aircraft is subsequently repaired and returned to service.[203]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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