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The World's First Mid-Air Collision of Airliners

by John M. White |

On April 7, 1922 the first midair collision of commercial airliners took place some 70 miles North of Paris.  The aircraft involved were a deHaviland DH-18A and a Farman F-60, also known as a Goliath.  The DH-18A was flying mail occupied by the pilot and a young boy steward, while the Goliath was carrying three passengers, a pilot, and a mechanic. De_havilland_dh18  

Two of the passengers were a newly wed American couple along with a French national citizen.  Unfortunately for all none survived.  The young steward was the only one found alive when rescuers arrived, but he died shortly thereafter. Farmangoliath

The weather was misty with poor visibility. The two aircraft suddenly encountered each other in the mist, neither having time to take evasive action. During the collision the DH.18 lost a wing and the tail, and impacted first, with the Goliath crashing a few minutes later.  Both aircraft were flying just below the clouds at an altitude of about 500 feet and along the normal flight path from Croydon to LeBourget airport in Paris in France.  The Goliath had departed LeBourget in the drizzle and fog and the two aircraft had no chance for survival.

The de Haviland aircraft had just started commercial service some 5 days prior to the accident.  Thank heaven today we can fly on instruments, have air traffic controllers to assist us, and modern equipment to guide us.

Until next time keep your wings straight and level Hersch!


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