Bert Hinkler and Canada by Fred W. Hotson In this 10 page article in CAHS Journal Vol 30 No 1 Spring 1992 you can find the following:
@India Four Two "...During the otherwise routine transatlantic paperwork, Canada's E.W. Stedman, Senior Air Officer, wrote S/L Lawrence that, under the circumstances, the Canadian registration should be cancelled and a British registration taken out. Lawrence came back promptly with a reply, indicating he had discussed the subject with Hinkler. "The reason this certificate was endorsed at this office was primarily due to the fact that the Squadron Ldr. Hinkler's plans are to return to Canada via Australia, and on this account he put forward a very strong plea for the retention of the Canadian registration." The letter ended, "Squadron Leader Hinkler does not wish his projected flight to receive any publicity, it is requested, please, that it be treated as confidential.""
@ian.whalley about the accidents involving wing separation in flight: "Bert must have been in on all the detailed investigation carried out by the Air Ministry and de Havilland but little did he know that he would be number eight in that list."
(2 in Australia VH-UPM, VH-UPC, 2 in Europe G-ABDH, G-ABJU, 2 in South Africa ZS-ACC, ZS-ACD, 1 in Canada G-CYUT, the only one with a survivor report - the ninth happened 22.6.33 in Siam HS-PAA) "All Puss Moth owners were kept informed of the details and the step-by-step modifications. The 1932 C of A renewal report on CF-APK, done prior to Hinkler's last flight, showed all the modifications installed and approved airworthy according to Air Ministry standards."
So what exactly does that information tell us? What were the modifications that are mentioned?
Hinkler crashed in January 1933 and there was another crash in Siam in June 1933 so whatever the modifications were it seems they did not cure the wing flutter problem. The nine puss moth crashes mentioned in the R & M report (including Hinkler and Siam) are all believed to be the result of flutter.
I have not yet located a copy of the Italian Report into Hinkler's crash. A friend in canada is working to establish whether a copy exists in the Canadian Archives.
Thanks for the link. I had spoken to John Kepert re the Puss Moth crashes and he agreed that flutter was the likely cause of Hinkler's fatal crash in CF-APK. I had also spoken with John Watkins who investigated an Australian crash of a Puss Moth. There was a witness who observed the wing seperate from the aircraft.
I have not been able to find a copy of the Italian Report in Australia. I have had no luck finding one in the UK but if someone has the right contacts I would certainly appreciate help in finding a copy.
The wreckage of CF-APK was carried down from the mountains and buried at Florence Airfield. Hinkler's body was buried in Florence. As far as I know no wreckage was transported to the UK.
A friend in Canada has located a copy of a file on CF-APK but unfortunately there is no copy of the Italian Investigation into the crash in the file.
Does anyone have contacts in the Air Crash Investigation Office in the UK?
Or could anyone suggest which archives or Government Department would have information used to publish the "ARC R & M 1699 Report on Puss Moth Accidents"? There is reference to the Italian Report in that publication so I would assume they had a copy to refer to.
Enquiries in Italy suggest their records were destroyed during the war.
Thank you for your help. It is very much appreciated.
In the first instance I'd write to Keith Conradi who is the Chief Inspector.
There is also the National Archive (formerly the Public Records Office) at Kew, West London. You have to employ a "reader" to gain access to any particular file though I don't know the cost or how to go about it.
Hello everyone Thanks for your interest in my book on Bert Hinkler. I have a copy of the crash report compiled by Italian investigators in the days after Bert's body was found. If anyone would like to see the report please email me at email@example.com
A very big public thank you to Grantlee Kieza for providing a copy of the elusive Italian Document which documents the cause of the crash of Puss Moth CF-APK.
This ends my 30 year plus search for a copy of the document involving enquiries in Italy, the UK, Canada and Australia.
The document states that the wing seperated from the fuselage in flight in part due to a defect in soldering which resulted in the breaking of a bolt slot which allowed progressive play in the wing joint. This eventually resulted in the wing breaking away.
The seperated wing was found 250 metres / 820 feet from the main wreckage.
Thank you again to Grantlee. Make sure you buy a copy of his book on Bert Hinkler. Thank you also to those on this forum who helped me in my quest.
I think we can categorically say that the propeller of CF-APK was not tampered with and the aircraft did not collide with a tree while attempting an emergency landing.
Rest in Peace Bert Hinkler and Godspeed.
Last edited by ian.whalley; 31st Jul 2012 at 00:54.
Is it not true we have no idea how qualified was the Italian who examined the wreckage and made his report? In the absence of this knowledge I think it prudent to take his references to the nature of the failure in the wing attach area with some scepticism.
Regarding the likely course of the plane in the minutes preceding the crash we have to consider that Hinkler was renowned in England as a daring scud runner. I have read in THE AEROPLANE contemporary mention of his ability to turn up at an airfield at the appointed time, though, as they say, the birds were walking. He also on his last flight was attempting to break the England-Australia record. So the degree of press-on-itis was extreme.
As Mackenzie, the early Hinkler biographer, says in his epilogue on page 122 of 'SOLO' . .......'One suspects that, like many people whose early years are spent in a struggle for self-justification, he was proud and somewhat embittered. Further aimless delay was more than he could bear. His 'get there or else' attitude allowed no compromise and invited self-destruction.'
We can say with some confidence it seems, that the measured or stepped out distance between wing and main wreckage was 250 metres. I think any highly qualified accident investigator today would say that such a separation points to a ground speed at wing failure something at least around 120 knots. Not knowing with any precision the nature of the terrain and obstructions between the two components does make this estimate hard to be sure of. If the wreckage trail is not accurately recorded a later analysis can only be very approximate and possibly flawed. Then again Hinkler may have throttled right back poking round in the murk.
Some investigators would also quite likely conclude that a consequence of the distance apart of wing and fuselage would be to conclude that massive forces attended the impact of the fuselage. For Hinkler to have survived the crash and then crawl from the wreckage and go the distance he did does lead to the conclusion that the aircraft impacted the ground at a shallow angle and that its momentum forces were absorbed and dispersed by break up of the fuselage as it decelerated after initial contact. Loss of a wing in flight at any level invariably means unsurvivable impact forces.
In other words, the path of an aircraft in flight after wing loss, even at very low altitude, is not likely to be one leading to a shallow angle of impact with terrain that is itself not steep or falling away at a high gradient.
If the wing separation did occur 250 metres from where the main wreckage ended up and we cannot say with any certainty that the wing did suffer structural failure in flight, then there will always be conjecture taking into account the alternative hypothesis that impact with a tree or other obstacle occurred first. It is to the recent biographer of Hinkler, Grantlee Kieza's credit that he leaves the question unresolved in his reader's mind. On the balance of probabilities, in the absence of an expert independent technical review of the Italian findings, and considering Hinkler's long non-stop flight from England to Italy, the prevailing weather and his probable uncertainty as to precise position, controlled flight into terrain is most likely.
Those who suggest turbulence as a factor, precipitating wing failure, ignore the fact that the prevailing weather at that time of year is not one of strong winds. Hinkler, tired and unsure of his exact position, dodging low cloud in poor visibility, would be flying slow rather than fast.
Lang Kidby I read likewise does not give great credence to the 'official' accident investigation finding. Fair to say that both of us, aviators of some experience of flying light aircraft here and overseas through skies fair and foul, sometimes with the ring hanging out due weather and terrain, feel qualified to claim some insight. When others try to put themselves in the shoes of a deceased pilot they often commit presumptions of the kind that warrants a sharp rebuke. Of the kind a correspondent to 'Aeroplane Monthly' made a few years ago when the editor reported his flight in the Lancaster in Canada on one of their conducted tours. His editorial in the subsequent issue said that riding round in the bomb-aimer position made him feel just what a man in that position at night over Dresden must have felt. A peeved correspondent wrote that he spoke in his hat or out of some other place. (That letter did win the monthly prize of a slab of 'Spitfire Ale', a nice acknowledgement.)
Fantome is entitled to his opinion. That is all it is. One mans opinion. Is fantome an aircrash investigator. An investigator of any sort? Does he know more than John watkins of TAA fame? It may be of interest that John Watkins investigated one of the 9 documented crashes in the R&M publication that happened here in Australia. There was a witness on the ground who looked up when he heard the aircraft and actually saw the wing come off the aircraft. I had many long conversations with John about the Hinkler crash. John's opinion is contained in the 1979 second edition of Solo by Mackenzie that fantome has not bothered to read.
Do not denigrate the opinions of others. Opinions based on years of research and information contained in ARC R & M 1699 Report on Puss Moth Accidents plus correspondence between the Italian Air Ministry and the Air Attache at the British Embassy in Rome. Perhaps one should obtain a copy of said document and have a read. Then consider the information contained therein.
If there is an official explanation for the crash of CF-APK then it is accepted as wing flutter causing the wing to separate from the fuselage in flight. Hinkler's crash was one of 9 such documented cases. Seems fantome knows much more than the experts who put together the report on Puss Moth crashes.
I do take exception to people who pretend friendship in order to advance their own causes and post private emails on a forum without even asking permission first. So my ideas have no merit because fantome has no confidence in the credentials of the Italian Air Ministry? So where does that leave his "outhouse musings"? No evidence there at all. It is a fact that the wing separated from the fuselage in flight. If fantome does not wish to accept historical fact, that is his problem.
The simple laws of physics indicate that it is not possible for an aircraft to fly so low as to strike a tree and shed a wing then have the remaining wreckage continue on for 250 metres without striking the ground. Simply not possible.
Hinkler was trying to break the record for flight from England to Australia so would have been travelling at maximum speed. Crossing the Atlantic in the same aircraft would have him flying in maximum endurance mode. Lang Kidby suggests Hinkler was trying to descend through bad weather so what was it? Weather good? Weather bad? Can't have both. Anyone heard of turbulence around mountains? Maximum speed, extreme turbulence, design fault that makes aircraft susceptible to flutter, defect in weld that allows a bolt to move thus allowing even more pronounced flutter, wing separates from fuselage, 250 metres between wing and rest of wreckage. Hinkler deceased. Official documentation/correspondence between Italian Air Ministry and British Embassy states definitely that aircraft did not strike tree. I rest my case.
Last edited by ian.whalley; 6th Aug 2012 at 07:37.
Reason: further information
It is a fact that the wing separated from the fuselage in flight
Oh really? Does your 'witness' have the same level of credibility as the one who saw the wing come off near Byron Bay killing Les Holden et al? Seeing is believing. Sometimes.
The capacity for intrigue deeply entrenched in the Italian psyche for centuries cannot be discounted as having no relevance to enquiries into the death of Bert Hinkler. There are numerous examples of flawed accident investigations. Books have been written on the subject. There are 'official findings' that later have been found to be either incompetent, criminally negligent or crooked from the start.
There have been posts on this forum over the years by people employed in the aviation industry appalled by the inaccurate and flawed findings by supposedly qualified, experienced accident investigators. There have been occasions when ATSB sent out investigators to report on a fixed-wing fatality, when those people's entire background was in rotary, and that in the military. And with no experience at all of sifting through wreckage.
Anyone seriously interested in finding out first hand about DH80 structural integrity needs to speak with the Australian authority on the rebuilding and restoration of the DH family of light aircraft. He is often bothered by cranks and one-eyed obsessive people who take him away from his work, so please PM me so as we can see if Mr Moth is approachable.
Sorry John/fantome I will take the experts who put together the publication ARC R & M 1699 Report on Puss Moth Accidents and John Watkins and the laws of physics over your opinion any day.
Insufferable patronisation! ?
Insufferable : intolerable/unbearably conceited
patronisation : can't find that one in my oxford dictionary
patronising : treat condescendingly
Don't know where you get that from. Obviously your opinion and you are entitled to it. My opinions are based on documented research. Yours based on not a shred of evidence. Simply opinion. I am most certainly not conceited in any way shape or form. I am the sort of person that if you show me evidence to the contrary (Evidence!!) I am more than happy to change my mind. 30 years with the police force, 18 months at the RAAF Academy, solo in a glider and a powered aircraft, good understanding of physics, a life time of research and interest in Aviation and Space History, an interest in Bert Hinkler as I grew up in Bundaberg, years of donating copies of everything I have found to Lex Rowland and Hinkler House, Hall of Aviation gives me some confidence in my research and analytical abilities. PM you? Not on your life. Did like the comment "If you can be bothered" when I missed answering a question. Shows me where the conceit etc is.
Last edited by ian.whalley; 6th Aug 2012 at 09:29.