Walker, Ben

Walker, Ben          1918 September 13th             Unknown

Aeroplane’s Collide – An Unusual Accidental

An accident occurred at a local aerodrome on Thursday of last week, when an aeroplane just commencing a flight crashed into a stationary machine on the ground and caused the death of Ben Walker. He was a corporal in the Royal Flying Corps and was 36 years of age. He was married, and his home was in Manchester.

An inquest was held by the City Coroner (Mr A M Wilson) at the Infirmary on Monday evening, when Mr G Kimber was appointed foreman of the jury.

Flight Cadet William McHenry said he was instructed to take an aeroplane up for flight on Thursday, September 5th, about 6.5pm. He got into the machine and opened up the petrol throttle, as it started, when he realised he was heading straight for another machine. He switched the engine off and just before the crash he saw a man standing on the wing of the other machine. He had not got up speed and the whole occurrence was only a matter of seconds. He had made two solo flights of twenty minutes each and had been flying since July 20th.

In reply to the Foreman, the Cadet said his machine was 20 yards from the other machine when he started.

Corpl Burns, a rigger, and Edmund Taylor, a fitter, in the RAF, deposed to the machine being in perfect order before flight. The latter, who saw the accident, said the machine swung round in a way he could not account for.

Lieut Bucknell, an instructor in the RAF, said he told Cadet McHenry to make the flight. The machine took off dead in the wind, went about 40 yards, swung to the right, and then swung right round in a semi-circle and crashed into the other machine. The machine the Cadet was flying was liable to swing round unless the rudder was kept straight, and as the pilot was engaged in looking at the throttle the machine began swinging.

In reply to the Foreman, witness said he did not think such an accident was possible, but after this he did not think it would be desirable that an inexperienced soloist should take off near the tarmac.

Second-Lieut Franks, in charge of a flying group, said that Walker was a photographer and was engaged in fixing a camera on the machine. There was no time to give him any warning.

The Foreman : Don’t you think it is dangerous for a flight to take place when these machines are in such close proximity?

 

Lieut Franks : Whatever risk may exist is reduced practically to the absolute minimum, but there must always be risk where machines are continually rising and landing.

Dr Kathleen O’Donnell, house surgeon at the Infirmary, said Walker was admitted to the Institution about 6.40pm. He was unconscious and was suffering from fracture of the base of the skull. There were injuries in other parts of the body. He died about an hour after admission.

The jury promptly returned a verdict of accidental death, and found that no fault was attached to the pilot. They added a rider to the effect that it would be advisable in future if flights took place further away from the tarmac, and a little more room thereby allowed for the ascent of aeroplanes.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s