Ministers killed in Canberra air disaster

While approaching to land at Canberra on this day, Lockheed Hudson bomber A16-97 carrying VIPs stalled and crashed into low hills beside the airfield. Killed in the disaster were the Minister for Air (James Fairbairn), Minister for the Army (Geoffrey Street), Vice-President of the Executive Council (Sir Henry Gullett), Chief of the General Staff (General Sir Brudenell White), two officials, and the four-man crew. Although rumours immediately began circulating that Fairbairn (himself a civil pilot) may have been at the controls of the Hudson while on its fatal approach, a Judicial Court of Inquiry into the accident found no evidence to support such claims. Instead, the inquiry issued a warning to RAAF pilots regarding the stalling characteristics of the Hudson when the aircraft’s speed was allowed to drop too far.

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