LAST week in this space, we told of the Lovesome Hill Air Disaster of May 16, 1914, when nearly all of the British air force fell out of the sky in thick fog to the north of Northallerton. As Lt John “Jack” Empson brought his biplane down in a field between Hutton Bonville and Lovesome Hill, he clipped a hedge, somersaulted and both he and his mechanic, George Cudmore, were killed.

They were part of Squadron 2 of the Royal Flying Corps, and they were flying in stages from their base in Montrose, Scotland, to Salisbury Plane. The flight on May 16, 1914, was from the beach at Seaton Carew to the racecourse on the Knavesmire, at York.

Tony Severs, of Northallerton, draws our attention to a 1960 book, A Pride of Unicorns by John Pudney, which tells how a social occasion had been planned to welcome the pioneer aviators to York. Lt Empson’s mother, Laura, had invited her sister, Eleanor Atcherley, the wife of the Chief Constable of the West Riding, to motor over from Wakefield with her twin 13-year-old boys for luncheon to witness the landing.

The boys, Richard and David, idolised their uncle who was a “lordling of the air”.

But when only three of the squadron’s ten planes arrived at the Knavesmire, nerves began to jangle. When Lt Empson was the only flier not to telegraph in his whereabouts, a “chill of anxiety” caused the luncheon to be delayed.

However, in those pre-radio days, the telegraph service in rural North Yorkshire was not extensive, so they hoped against hope that he had been unable to find a way to let his commanders know.

Then came news that a milkman had stumbled over the remains in the remote field and the airmen were dead. It was broken to ashen-faced family adults. Eleanor relayed it to her twins, and they always remembered that she concluded by saying: “This finishes flying for you two boys.”

However, both grew up to become Air Vice-Marshals. David was a senior officer in the RAF until his plane, a Meteor, was lost somewhere over the Mediterranean on a flight between Egypt and Cyprus in 1952. Richard was knighted for his work as commander-in-chief of the Royal Pakistan Air Force and, in 1954 aged 50, he became one of the first to break the sound barrier in a plane.

Despite both her twins living for flying, their mother never once saw them in a plane – the Lovesome Hill Air Disaster finished flying for her.

THIS wasn’t the only plane to crash at Lovesome Hill. On May 6, 1944, a Halifax bomber from RAF Pocklington, in the East Riding, caught fire over the Northallerton area. Its crew abandoned it safely, and crashed into farmland at, according to the official records, “Lonesome Hill”.

In 1987, aviation historian Norman Davidson used the columns of the D&S Times to discover whether Lonesome and Lovesome were the same place.

He received a reply from LE Shepherd saying: “I was the farmer of Oak Tree Farm, Lovesome Hill, where the crash happened. The pilot rang the authorities from my telephone after the crash, and I filled in the craters after the wreckage had been taken away.”

We are grateful for David Thompson for sending us information about the second air disaster of Lovesome Hill.