It was the 13th of May 1912, a Monday, when a Flanders F3 Monoplane took off from Brooklands in Surrey, a county of England.  The pilot was the aviation pioneer Edward Victor Beauchamp Fisher and his passenger the American millionaire Victor Mason.  Fisher had an Aviator’s Certificate, the 77th to be issued, had learned to fly at Brooklands and was a flying instructor there.  He had also worked with both A V Roe (the founder of Avro) and Howard Flanders, whose monoplane he was flying at the time.  The two men had made two or three circuits of the airfield at about 100ft, the 60 hp Green engine operating well when, in a left turn, the aircraft fell to the ground killing both the aviator and his passenger before catching alight and burning.  In the early days of aviation such accidents were fairly common but what sets this one apart is that it was the first in history to become the subject of an accident investigation by an official civilian body… the Public Safety and Accidents Investigation Committee of the Royal Aero Club.


Brooklands airfield and motor racing circuit circa 1907


The Flanders F3/4


The Wright crash


Lt Frank Lahm


The 1920 Air Navigation Act


The 1926 formation of the NTSB


NTSB Investigators


The Challenger disaster



Images under Creative Commons licence with thanks to Daimler Chrysler AG, Bain News Service, National Museum of Health and Medicine, the USAF, UK Gov, NTSB and the Kennedy Space Centre.