DH Dragonfly G-AHEC

Darnaw, Newton Stewart













Aircraft Type Photo


BELOW: A restored Scottish Airways DH-89 Rapide (G-AGJG) and a restored DH-90 Dragonfly (G-AEOU) seen at the 2008 Flying Legends air show in Duxford, UK. The aircraft featured here was a Dragonfly very similar to that shown in the lower part of the picture.


dh-89 rapide and dh-90 dragonfly in flying legends air show at duxford in 2008


Photo: 2008 'Rror'. Released by the author to the public domain under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License.





Aircraft Type and Background


Personal Airways de Havilland DH-90A Dragonfly / G-AHEC


Civilian Passenger Transport (private operator)


The DH90 Dragonfly was 5-seat light transport biplane. Two seats were situated in the nose of the aircraft, with a single seat behind. The remaining two seats were located at the back of the cabin.


The DH90A (production version) Dragonfly entered service in 1935. This version was equipped with two 130 hp de Havilland Gipsy Major II air-cooled engines. It's maximum speed near sea level was 232km/h (144mph). It had a cruising range of about 1,424km (885 miles).



BELOW: A de Havilland DH-90A Dragonfly, with New Zealand registration, at the Virtual Aircraft Museum.


de havilland dh-90 dragonfly with new zealand registration at virtual aircraft museum


Photo: 2004 Source unknown.





Aircraft Accident Details


This aircraft belonged to Daily Express Newspapers. At the time of the accident, the aircraft was tracking the new civil aviation routes for a planned feature by Express Newspapers.


The Dragonfly had arrived at Glasgow (Renfrew) aerodrome from Ireland. Then, taking off from Renfrew, it set a southerly course for Liverpool (Speke) airport.


On board was a senior Express reporter, Major Harold C. Pemberton D.S.O., together with a 22-year old photographer, Reginald C. Wesley. The pilot of the aircraft was Lesley T. Jackson and his wireless operator was Archibald Phillpot. The crew was flying for Personal Airways—the company from whom Express Newspapers had chartered the aircraft.


Some time after leaving Renfrew, contact with the aircraft was lost, and nothing further was heard from it. When it became overdue at Speke airport, the RAF began searching for it.1


It was not until two days later that the crashed aircraft was discovered by a shepherd who lived near Newton Stewart. He had heard the sound of an aircraft while attending to the sheep on the hills. Later, after returning home, he heard a wireless (radio) report of a missing aircraft, and returned to the hills to search. Eventually, he found the wreckage, together with four bodies, on Darnaw (a peak on the Galloway Hills). The shepherd then descended from the crash site and immediately travelled by bicycle to notify the police 16 miles away in Newton Stewart.


There is no solid evidence for the cause of the crash. Another pilot, who was interviewed during the enquiry, thought that the de Havilland pilot might have mistaken Clatteringshaws Loch (then, a new unmapped reservoir in the Galloway Hills) for the Solway Firth. If so, it was assumed that the pilot had descended below safe limits in order to follow what he believed to be the coastline or the line of the Solway Firth. Unfortunately, however, the aircraft was over much higher ground at the time, and, in poor visibility, it soon impacted with the peak known as Darnaw.


Some time after the accident, the Daily Express arranged for a memorial to be placed on Darnaw, near the crash site. This memorial can be seen at the site today.





1 An RAF Avro Anson crashed on Wool Law near Leadhills, S Lanarkshire while searching for the missing Dragonfly. See Anson accident details on this website.





Aircraft Crew / Passenger Casualties


Those who died in this aircraft accident were:



  •  Lesley T. Jackson, Pilot (ex RAF)

  • Archibald Phillpot, Wireless Operator





Crash Site Photos



There are no onsite photos of this aircraft. The crash site is marked, however, with a memorial pillar.





















Crash Date / Site


Accident Date: 2 Feb 1937


Accident Site:

Darnaw (472m)

(Clatteringshaws Loch, Galloway Forest Park)


Region: Dumfries & Galloway


Nearest town or village:

New Galloway


Nearest large town:

Newton Stewart (16 miles SW)


OS Grid Ref. 73 / NX 515765 (Memorial Stone) (410m)


GPS Ref: N/A


Present Condition: As far as is known, no wreckage remains onsite. However, the crash site is marked by a memorial which was placed there on behalf of Daily Express Newspapers.




Aircraft Details


Registration or Serial: G-AHEC


Operator: Personal Airways Ltd.


Operating Base: Croydon Aerodrome  (later, Croydon Air Port)


Base Location: Croydon, S. London.


Current Airport Status: Closed in 1950s. Now, partly overbuilt with housing and partly playing fields and parkland.



Principal airport data courtesy of John Woodside, A Catalogue of UK Airfields





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