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Low Flying, Great Britain

Volume 390: debated on Wednesday 2 June 1943

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7.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, in order to reduce the amount of dangerous low flying in built-up and other areas, members of the. Observer Corps will be invited to cooperate by reporting suit incidents?

Members of the Royal Observer Corps have on occasion been able to assist in detecting cases of unauthorised low flying, and an instruction that they are to continue to do so without detracting from their primary duty of tracking enemy aircraft is being issued.

Will the right hon. and gallant Gentleman also emphasise to the public that when reporting low flying they must try to ascertain the number of the aeroplane; otherwise it will be impossible to trace the offender?

Yes, Sir; I think that is widely known, and I hope that the hon. Member's supplementary will help to make it even more so.

8.

asked the Secretary of State for Air whether, in view of the recent tragedy at a public school, when nine boys were killed owing to unauthorised low flying over the playing fields, specific instructions have now been given to all stations throughout the country emphasising the urgent need of restricting low flying to authorised localities?

As the hon. Member is aware, low flying is strictly prohibited except over specially selected training areas. The standing orders on the subject are 'brought periodically to the notice of the Service, and in accordance with this practice a further instruction emphasising the importance of strict compliance is now about to be issued.

Is the right hon. and gallant Gentleman aware that within a very few days of that disaster, aeroplanes were doing exactly the same thing over exactly the same area? Can special emphasis be laid on these instructions to get that sort of thing stopped?

I am not aware of that particular fact; but if we can get the number of the aircraft—if it is a Royal Air Force aircraft—the pilot will be dealt with with the utmost severity. I would like to make it clear that there is nothing more dangerous to the public, or worse manners, than showing off by young-pilots, by unauthorised low flying.

Has my right hon. and gallant Friend's attention been called to the extraordinary discrepancy in the evidence at the inquest where a schoolmaster declared that the aeroplane was flying at 50 feet, and the instructor declared that he had never been below 500 feet?

I have seen only the reports in the Press; not a complete transcript. This was not an R.A.F. aircraft.

What penalty is imposed on pilots who have been convicted of such low flying?

The regulations say:

"There can be but few cases where, in the absence of special circumstances, a sentence of dismissal in the case of an officer, or a sentence of detention in the case of a sergeant pilot would not be justified where the pilot has been tried by court martial and found guilty of a deliberate breach of low-flying regulations."