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Joyrider Killed Over Chard in 1933 Crash

Updated: Jan 27, 2022

Following the end of the First World War in 1918 the British Government needed to dispose of huge amounts of military equipment. Biplanes were especial cheap to buy, and Devonshire Aviation Tours based at Exeter Airport acquired two Avro 504 training biplanes. Their registrations were G-ABZC and G-AAYM. In addition to giving flying lessons, they allowed the public their first experience of flying in an open cockpit aeroplane.

Flying at this time, in an open cockpit biplane was incredibly basic but people loved the excitement of taking to the air for the first time. The flights were called joyrides and the AVRO 504 biplane would carry a single pilot with two passengers in the open rear cockpit.

Flights usually cost 10 shillings. 50p in today’s money.

G-ABZC, with its pilot James Hickling came to Chard for a day of joyrides on Sunday 30th April 1933. The day went well until the last flight when the passengers were Gerald Banfield and Charles Guppy. The accident report states that aeroplane took off but at 100’ (30m) the engine suddenly stopped. The pilot attempted to turn back to land in the nearest large field but in attempting to miss two telegraph poles the aeroplane stalled and crashed. Gerald Banfield, one of the passengers, was killed

The cause of the crash was later investigated and found to be caused by the aeroplane running out of fuel, it had not been refuelled during the day. The pilot, who was responsible for his craft, was held responsible for this mistake and his licence suspended for twelve months.

Chard Museum is looking for any additional information on this event. We are uncertain of the precise site of the crash though it may have been in the Furnham Road area.

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