The First Aircraft Accident Investigation

On 13 May 1912, a two-seater aircraft piloted by Edward Victor Beauchamp Fisher crashed at Brooklands, in England, killing both the pilot and his passenger, American millionaire Victor Mason. According to witnesses, the aircraft appeared to stall at about 100 feet in the air before diving towards the ground, where it burst into flames upon impact.

What caused the plane to drop out of the sky and crash perplexed people. They had been flying on a good day, at a reasonable altitude, and just around the airfield. The pilot, although young at 24 years, was a capable aviator who had received his Aviator’s Certificate from the Royal Aero Club a year ago. There was no reason to believe that he was in any way incapacitated, or there was structural failure of any part of the aircraft. Faced with a mystery, the Royal Aero Club decided to undertake a formal investigation, which became the first aviation accident investigation in history.

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A Flanders monoplane similar to the one that crashed in Brooklands on 13 May 1912.


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