September 23, 1911  
from Flight/archive
  ANOTHER sad fatality has occurred temporarily marring the triumphant progress of flight in this country and bringing home to the public the heroic self-sacrifice of these Army and Naval officers who have voluntarily, and for the most part at their own expense, devoted themselves to the perfecting of aviation in the interests of national defence. It was while making a trial flight on one of the new Valkyrie monoplanes presented by Mr. II. Barber to the War Office that Lieut. Cammell met his death. Throughout Sunday last he had been busily engaged in testing the new Gnome engine that had been fitted to the monoplane, and soon after 6 o'clock, when the breeze that had prevailed all through the day had moderated, he set out to make a preliminary flight on the machine. After his first circuit, during which he flew quite steadily and rose to 100 ft., he attempted a spiral vol plane, and this proved his undoing, for he lost control and fell to the ground. Although some signs of life were evident while he was being extricated from the wreckage of the machine, he had breathed his last by the time he was received at the hospital. Lieut. Cammell, who was only 25 years of age, was one of the •cleverest pilots of the British Air Battalion. With the advent of the aeroplane he abandoned his work in connection with the Army dirigible balloons in favour of this more successful method. He won his brevet on a Bristol biplane at the Salisbury Plain school on the last day of the year 1910, and during the following April he gained experience in piloting the Bleriot monoplane, a type of machine which he had since flown with commendable success. Last Sunday he was commencing his experience with one of the British-built Army Valkyries with a view to , flying it over to his headquarters at Farnborough. Clever pilot that he undoubtedly was, we cannot but decry the lack of caution that prompted him to attempt so much on a power-fully- engined aeroplane without previous experience in the pilot's seat of a school machine of a similar type. Had he taken this precaution no tragedy need have happened, for he would have been enabled, under conditions of minimum risk, to accustom himself to the controls—controls which, outwardly, bear so much resemblance to the Farman, but which are so entirely different in operation. We are sure our readers join with us in extending our sympathy to the relatives and friends of the late officer, and to Mr. H. Barber, of the Valkyrie Aeronautical Syndicate, who are deeply grieved by the sad catastrophe.
Lieut. R. A. Cammell, the distinguished Army aviator who
was killed at Hendon on Sunday last.

AT the inquest held at Hendon regarding the fatal accident to Lieut. R. A. Cammel, R.E., whilst flying a Valkyrie machine, a verdict of "d e a th by misadventure" was returned by the jury, sympathy with the relatives of the deceased and the Army being expressed. From the evidence it emerged that the actual cause of death was concussion of the brain, and it appeared that the aviator was thrown clear of the machine and struck the ground
with his head, the engine in no way touching him in connection with the fall. Lieut. A. G. Fox's evidence went to show that Lieut. Cammell had never flown this type of machine before. Mr. H. Barber, of the Valkyrie Aeronautical Syndicate, stated that he saw the accident. He had presented the Government with four machines, three with engines and one without. This machine had had an engine in, and been thoroughly tested in the air with a 50-h.p. Gnome. That was about six weeks ago. No one else bad tested it besides witness, but he had no trouble with it. The engine was taken out about a month ago, and about ten days ago Lieut. Cammell brought his engine to be put in. They had a great deal of trouble with it, and it had to be taken off and put in two or three times before the mechanics could put it right. Witness had instructed Lieut Cammell as a passenger on a similar machine before. It was a Valkyrie, and a type quite of its own. He thought the engine was very dirty, but he left the mechanics who were handling it alone. They thought the shaft was untrue, but he believed they convinced themselves that it was all right. In regard to the actual fatality, Lieut. Cammell commenced to fly about 5.40 p.m. It was understood he should have half an hour's practice before flying to Farnborough. He started from the north-east corner of the aerodrome, and it was at once seen that he took his turns much too sharply. After a circuit and a half he com-menced to vol plane, and while doing so he turned sharply to the left, permitting the machine to bank up too much, where-upon it side-slipped to the ground. He thought the accident could be accounted for in connection with the control. In his machine it appeared to be about the same as on the Farman machine, on which deceased had obtained his certificate, but they did not have exactly the same effect. The accident was caused through the machine turning over. To turn on a Farman you must work levers, but in his machine, as in certain others, you must use your right foot to work the rudder, and operate the lever at the same time. It appeared to him that deceased worked his Lieut. R. A. Cammell, the distinguished Array aviator who -was killed at Hendon on Sunday last. the time of the accident a spiral vol plane descent, much too much to have attempted, and that might have been the cause of the mishap. Mr. Barber said he was very upset when he heard that Lieut. Cammell intended to fly straight to Farnborough on the machine. Capt. Lorraine, of the Grenadier Guards, a pupil at Hendon, who saw the accident, corroborated Mr. Barber's evidence. He thought the deceased turned too sharply. Sergeant Frederick Unwin, of the Royal Engineers, who helped to fix the engine to the machine, said that the engine was bought new but had been used several times, and after it had been repaired at Farnborough it was finally put on the machine at Hendon, and it was then quite all right. He thought that Lieut. Cammel's accident was due to his not using the control properly. The wreckage was not on him at all, he being surrounded by it, and the engine appeared to be all right. Corporal Stafford considered the accident was caused by the machine turning too sharply. Maj. Sir Alexander Bannerman, in command of the Air Battalion of the Royal Engineers, said the deceased was a bold yet careful flyer. He was not reckless, but was a man prepared to take risks if the necessity arose. Knowing that Cammell was going to fly a machine new to him, he asked him whether he minded flying it, and deceased replied that he did not in the least, but that as it was a strange machine to him he would not fly it in a wind, as he would his own machine—a Bleriot. Deceased was very fond of trying sharp turns on his own machine, and witness conjectured that deceased might have tried to do too much. With regard to Mr. Barber's suggestion as to the deceased forgetting the difference in the controls, witness said that might have contributed to the accident. Witness added that the War Office had recently asked him whether it would be possible to have officers to fly more than one type of machine, and he replied in the negative, but as Lieut. CammeU was a very experienced flyer, he allowed him to fly this machine. The one on which the fatality occurred was the only one of the four machines presented by Mr. Barber to the Government which carried a passenger. Dr. George Cohen, the Coroner, in summing up, said he thought that Mr. Cammell must have had some temporary loss of knowledge or control of the machine and mistaken it for another. There could hardly be any doubt he was intending to run a preliminary trial. There was no evidence to show that the machine was affected.  

BackBack Home