Roger Pierre Mollard




b. St Germain-en-Laye, France, and educated at Worksop College, Nottinghamshire.

RAF from 1921, serving in the UK and India, then joined the European division of Imperial in 1929, based in Heliopolis.

He was the pilot when Shorts S.23 Empire Flying boat G-ADUZ 'Cygnus' crashed and sank on the 5th December 1937, as he was attempting to take-off in rough weather at Brindisi. Two people were killed - one a passenger, the other a member of the crew - and another 11 injured. Apparently, both wings were "torn out of their sockets" by the crash.

To make things even worse, one of the injured was Sir John Salmond, a Director of British Airways... who didn't seem best pleased... Sir John was transferred to the Anglo-American nursing home in Rome; when questioned, he "refused to discuss the incident. He looked pale, his face was bruised, and he had a gash over his right temple."

Eventually, the inquiry established that "the aircraft attempted to take off with the wrong flap settings. This caused the aircraft to start porpoising, leading to loss of control. The 1st Officer (R Mountain, who got the Royal Humane Society Silver Medal and the Stanhope Gold Medal for bravery) saved 3 passengers from the aft cabin which had only about half a metre of air space left."

It seems that the second pilot, on being given the word 'flaps' during the pre-take-off checks, set them in the fully-down instead of the take-off position.

Imperial Airways reviewed their take-off procedures, concluded that they were not to blame, (did anybody suggest saying 'flaps to take-off position', or something?) but, just in case, "sent a reminder to all concerned".

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