Incident Reports

Date: June 29, 1927
Survivors: none
Fatalities: serz. Roberts Bemchens
Aircraft Involved: Ansaldo A1 Balilla #28
Location: Spilve
Details:
  • At 3:40 pm two Balilla aircraft, equipped with gun cameras, took off from the Spilve for an aerial combat practice session. One was flown by 1st Lt. Zarins and the other Sgt.Bemchens. This was a combat exercise, so the flight maneuvers were aggressive and, in part, took place close to the ground. At one point Sgt.Bemchens Balilla (#28) turned too sharply and entered a spin at an altitude of approximately 70 metres. Bemchens could be seen trying to correct the spin, but the altitude was too low and he struck the ground with a great deal of force. The fuel lines were ruptured by the impact and the aircraft immediately began to burn vigorously. Other pilots and ground crew rushed to the aircraft but, with the intensity of the fire, it took 2-3 minutes to remove the pilots' body from the aircraft. It was clear that his neck had been broken and, in autopsy it was found that he had multiple spine and limb fractures. Clearly, he had died in the crash and not in the fire.
  • The aircraft was totally destroyed, burning so completely that only the metal parts remained.
  • General Bangerskis commented on the accident, stating that the preliminary investigation suggests that the crash resulted from extreme maneuvers being carried out too close to the ground, thus not allowing a margin of error for corrections should the pilot experience a problem. He confirmed that the engine was operating properly right up to the moment of impact, and that the pilot died from the force of the crash, not the subsequent flames..

1935 Photo B Rouse - 2002 photo


Roberts Bemchens


Sources

- Bruvelis, Edvins Latvijas Aviacijas Vesture
- Latvijas Kareivis 1927-06-30
- Latvijas Kareivis 1927-07-01
- Latvijas Kareivis 1927-07-02
- Latvijas Kareivis 1927-07-03

- 2002 photo by B Rouse

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