One member of the Royal New Zealand Air Force lost his life and another was injured when the two aircraft of which they were occupants collided while on training flights near the Royal New Zealand Air Force station, Harewood, yesterday morning.They were:
KILLED Leading Aircraftsman William Gordon Stephens. [redact]
INJURED Leading Aircraftsman Walter John Willis. [redact]
Both were airmen pilots under training, and were engaged in solo flying practice.
The accident occurred at 9.27 a.m., about one mile east of the Harewood aerodrome. The machines were flying at a height of about 800 feet, Stephens’s machine spun to the ground after the collision and burst into flames. It struck the surface of Burnside road, near the intersection of Woolidge road. The pilot was killed instantly. Within a few- seconds the machine was enveloped in flames, and although firefighters were on the scene within a few minutes and extinguished the fire with chemical extinguishers, the aircraft was reduced to a charred, wreck with only the metal portions remaining. The machine occupied by LeadingAircraftsman Willis turned west-after the impact and the pilot endeavoured to make a forced landing in an open paddock. In landing the machine tore its way through a low gorse fence and touched rough ground. The undercarriage was broken and the machine turned over on its back after travelling a few yards. The pilot had struggled out of the, cockpit when help arrived. It was found he had escaped with minor injuries, and he was removed to the station hospital. An inquest was opened in the afternoon, before Mr E. C. Levvey, Coroner, into the death of Leading-Aircraftsman Stephens. James Lawrence Wright, station medical officer at Harewood, said he was called to the scene of the accident and found that the pilot of the burnt aircraft was dead. Death in his opinion was due to head injuries, including a fracture of the skull. The body was so charred that it did not permit of identification. Pilot-Officer T Public - Sarndra - 12 November 2017 - National Library of New Zealand; Paperspast portal; Press, Volume LXXVII, Issue 23260, 21 February 1941; https://paperspast.natlib.govt.nz/newspapers/CHP19410221.2.72?query=william%20gordon%20stephens