Cadet Denis John Bygrave
On 29th August, 1952, Cadet Denis John Bygrave, (143 Glider Squadron, Air Training Corps, RAF) lost his life when control was lost at the top of a winch launch, and his Slingsby T31 Kirby Cadet Mk.III glider dived into the ground.
At only 16 years old, we believe Denis was the youngest pilot to lose his life flying from RAF Kenley.
The Coventry Evening Telegraph reported the tragedy on 29th August, 1952:
Boy Killed in Glider Crash
A public school boy, aged about 16, was killed when his glider crashed on take-off at Kenley RAF Station, Whyteleafe, Surrey, today. The boy was one of a number who were taking part in Combined Cadet Force training at the aerodrome. The glider was one of a number allotted recently to school cadet forces for training. The boy’s next-of-kin are being informed.
Flight Lieutenant Cyril Lowe, RAFVR, the Commanding Officer of 143 Glider School said that he considered Bygrave a ‘star pupil.’ He surmised that the boy must have fainted or blacked out when the cable was released as no mechanical defect could be found to account for the crash. It was only his second solo flight.
Denis was the eldest child of Edward G. Bygrave and Nellie (nee Davey) and had a sister, Joan, who was only six years old when he died. The family lived in Widdicombe Way, Brighton. Denis was a pupil at Brighton Grammar School.
Blue skies Denis..Rest in Peace.