G-ADEE - Fairsnape Fell
26th October 1935
Last Updated: 02.12.2010
Railway Air Services Ltd D.H. 84 Dragon II, G-ADEE
|D.H.84 Dragon 2||
Railway Air Services Ltd
D.H.84 Dragon 2,
Construction number 6099, Registration G-ADEE was operated by Railway Air
Services Ltd, a
British airline formed in March 1934 by the main four railway companies (LMS,
LNER, SR and GWR)
and Imperial Airways. It was a domestic airline operating routes within the
United Kingdom linking up with Imperial's services and carrying mail and
passengers. The aircraft had been built in March 1935 by the de Havilland
Aircraft Co. specifically for Imperial Airways and had completed 657 hours
flying time, including having recently undergone a general overhaul.
On Saturday October 26th 1935, G-ADEE was flying on a regular route from Manchester to the Isle of Man and took of from Manchester (Barton) at 11:00 for the first leg of the journey to Liverpool (Speke). The aircraft was flown by Capt. Cedric Rex Crow, aged 25, who had graduated as a pilot whilst in the RAF in 1929 and had been granted a Class “A” civil pilot’s licence on leaving the service in 1933. Overall he had over 1300 hours solo flying experience, 640 of which were with the RAF and including 114 on the Dragon. He had transferred to the Manchester / Isle of Man route at the beginning of October 1935 and had completed the journey in both directions a dozen or more times, but not in bad weather conditions, when it was normal for pilots to follow the coastline rather than an inland route. Weather conditions that day were described as bad, but not so much so as to disrupt normal schedules, yet only 15 minutes after leaving Barton, Capt. Crow returned to the airfield and landed. He requested the latest weather report from Speke, even though he had already been briefed on the conditions before take off and the report was obtained for him. He took off again at 11:25 and duly landed at Speke at 11:35, where he picked up a passenger, Mr Ronald Swales, aged 24, from Port Erin on the Isle of Man and took off for Blackpool (Squire’s Gate) at 11:44.
|Capt. Cedric Rex Crow||Pilot||
|Mr Ronald Swales||Passenger||
Two radio contacts were received from the aircraft, firstly
the pilot reported that he was flying in and out of clouds at 1000 feet and he
was advised that another aircraft was flying the same route in the opposite
direction at 800 feet. The second message was at 11:55 when he reported that he
was flying at 500 feet in poor visibility. A number of witnesses saw or heard
the aircraft along its route and it was noted that at the last radio contact, it
was some 8 miles inland and it was seen flying over the river Ribble at a few
hundred feet near the western outskirts of Preston. G-ADEE was last seen as it
just cleared a 780 feet high peak, probably Beacon Fell, flying in thick mist
and the steady roar of the engines was heard to continue right up to impact. At
approx. 12:08 the aircraft struck the steep slope of Fairsnape Fell, some 200
feet below its 1700 foot summit, in a “very steeply climbing attitude”, no
doubt as the pilot saw the obstacle at the last moment and tried to avoid it.
Both occupants were killed instantly on impact and the wrecked aircraft burst
into flames, being almost completely destroyed by the time the first locals, who
had heard the crash, made their way up the fell and located the burning plane.
|Fragments found amongst the rocks lower down the slope||The scar where G-ADEE impacted and burnt out|
This was an unusual project for us, with the aircraft involved being a civilian airliner and the early date of the crash. It had initially started as research only, as it was felt that it was very unlikely anything would be left at the crash site, due to the mainly wood construction aircraft, which had completely burnt out, the post crash investigation and recovery and the length of time elapsed since the crash. However, having traced Press reports from the time and a detailed AIB report from the P.R.O. (AVIA 5/17), it was noted that the location of the crash site was quite accurately described and we felt that it might just be possible to find at least a scar made by the impact. Mark from Peak District Air Accident Research took up the challenge and after several hours searching, returned with a fragment of aluminium air vent with a distinctive “Art-Deco” perforated design and a brass Marconi radio plate found amongst the rocks lower down the slope and said that there was indeed a scar higher up on the side of the fell! We arranged permission from the landowner to investigate this area and returned to the site, which was indeed on a very steep slope. Though the ground was very rocky with little topsoil, we found numerous small fragments jammed in amongst the rocks, including a surprising quantity of radio components and another brass Marconi plate. Obviously very little airframe was present and most of what was there was steel and very badly corroded after the fire plus 72 years exposure to the elements, but fragments of carpet, fabric and leather upholstery were found as well as nickel plated galley parts and the remains of an “HP” sauce bottle!
|Sparse remains found - hardly surprising considering it was 72 years since the crash. Note: two bakelite radio control knobs amongst the pieces.||The crash site at 1,500 feet, reinstated following our investigation. Note: the steep gradient of the slope, made sitting easier than standing!|
Mr. J. Duckworth (Bleasdale Estate Office), Andrew Stewart, Mark Sheldon, Alan Clark.
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