Fri, 03/23/2018 - 01:43

H.K.A.A.F. Plane Disaster 18 July 1954

Date picture taken
18 Jul 1954
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Cadet Pilot Killed; Instructor Missing



Tragedy struck the Hongkong Auxiliary Air Force yesterday, for the second time in five weeks, when a Harvard trainer plane crashed into the sea south of Cheung Chau Island, with the loss of two of the most popular members of the HKAAF.

Victims of the disaster were Flight Lieutenant B. McConville, the Auxiliary’s flight instructor, who was at the controls of the Harvard; and Brian Bernard Farrell, the 18-year-old second son of Mr R. E. Farrell, Manager of the Hongkong Telephone Company, and Mrs Farrell, with whom the deepest sympathy will be felt.

Brian Farrell was a cadet pitot officer in the HKAAF. He was pulled unconscious from the wreckage of the Harvard just before it sank and taken to the 33 Military Hospital in Kowloon, but had succumbed to his injuries before arrival.

The accident occurred at approximately 10 a.m. and a junk, followed by a police launch, raced to the spot, and managed to reach the scene just before the Harvard sank.

The other occupant, Flight Lieutenant McConville presumably went down with the aircraft as it submerged.

According to an eye-witness, there was no indication that the Harvard was in difficulties. It flew near Cheung Chau, turned south and suddenly plunged nose-first into the water.

Sinderland sinks

An hour later, another disaster, this time without loss of life, occurred. A Sunderland flying-boat sent out to assist in the rescue efforts capsized and sank.

The Sunderland had landed on the water and had been cruising around the area. Then trying to take off, it appears to have been caught in an unusual swell, dipped its wing and cap-sized.

All the members of the crew were rescued by a naval vessel in the vicinity.

A passenger on a nearby launch said: “We saw the Sunderland before it put down but took little notice of it. It was only some time after that the second mishap was apparent.

“It was obvious that the flyingboat was trying to take off again, but one of the wings appeared to be dragging. Spray was flying and the plane was definitely moving, but it just could not become airborne.

“Quite-suddenly, the wing that seemed to be dragging in the sea went down further still and the other wing was now pointing up at an angle of 60 degrees. Then she heeled over.”

This is the H.K.A.A.F.’s fifth aircraft mishap in seven months. Two Spitfires and an Auster trainer were damaged while landing last October, during the Auxiliary Air Force’s annual camp in the New Territories. None of the pilots was injured.

On June 12 this year, a Spitfire, piloted by Squadron Leader E. J. G. Gauntlett, plunged into the sea during armament practice at the Port Shelter Range, and the pilot’s body was never recovered.