Jersey Airport Disaster of 1938

In the late 1930s Islanders were becoming increasingly familiar with civilian air travel, but a terrible accident in 1938 served as a harsh reminder that the passenger aircraft of the day were both fragile and occasionally unreliable.

Just before 11 am on 4 November a Jersey Airways DeHavilland DH86 four-engine biplane carrying two crew and 11 passengers took off from the Airport.

In misty conditions it climbed and began turning onto its course for Southampton, but a matter of moments after leaving the runway it plunged, engines screaming, into a St Peter field some 500 yards away from the Airport perimeter.

Caught fire and crashed into a field two minutes after taking off. A farm worker was crushed to death when the wreckage landed on him.

The 1938 Jersey Airport disaster occurred at 10:50am on Friday 4 November 1938 when the Jersey Airways de Havilland D.H.86 airliner St Catherine's Bay (G-ACZN) crashed in the parish of Saint Brélade, 500 yards east of Jersey Airport, killing the pilot and all twelve passengers on board as well as farm hand Edmund Le Cornu, who was working on the ground.In terms of loss of life, it was the worst crash of a rigid aircraft on British territory to date and the second-worst overall crash of a British rigid aircraft after the crash of an Imperial Airways airliner in Belgium in 1933 (in which 15 people died).