The early aviators – or aeronauts, as they were called – certainly took their lives in their hands, The Bournemouth meeting of 1910 was marred by the death of one of the most famous and popular of the early fliers, the Hon, C.S. Rolls:
Picture: The Rolls Crash
Major C.C. Turner in his book ‘The Old Flying Days’ tells the tragic story:
"The accident happened just in front of the grand stand. Rolls had accelerated higher than was expected, probably to allow himself a longer glide down as that he could steer more easily for the landing spot….At a height of seventy feet he stopped his motor and began to glide down at an angle of about 40 degrees, relying on the wind to help him to avoid a long run on the ground; but to check the descent he brought the elevating planes up very sharply. The machine was at a height of 50 feet when the left side of the tail-plane broke away with part of the left of the rudder. There was a sound of splitting wood, and the elevating plane swung back. The head of the machine turned sharply towards the earth, then back, and so crashed upside down from a height of about thirty feet.
The crash, witnessed by thousands of silent and horrified spectators, was followed by a loud report in the engine. Rolls was found lying clear of the machine, and apparently unscathed. He was, however, lifeless, and the doctor said that death had been virtually instantaneous from concussion."