31st July 1936

Guernsey to Jersey plane crashed into the sea

The Cloud of Iona, a de Havilland Dragon sea plane flying between Guernsey and Jersey, crashed into the sea with two crew and eight passengers onboard.

With high seas and closing fog, there was little hope of finding any survivors. All the same, various aircraft and boats, including the Guernsey lifeboats, spent hours searching through the night and into the next morning for the twin-engined Guernsey Airways plane.

A discovery

By 3 August, various pieces of wreckage, including a door, aileron and parts of the wings had been found at Minquiers Reef. They were confirmed to have come from the missing plane and the search was focused on recovering more of the craft – and the victims.

Within a week, the bodies were starting to wash up on the French coast. The remains of the plane were eventually found by two fishermen on 13 August.

An official inquiry

The Cloud of Iona’s flight between the islands should have taken just half an hour, with the plane touching down in Jersey at 7.30pm. When she hadn’t arrived at St Aubin’s Bay by 7.45, Jersey called Guernsey to see whether the plane had turned back, but Guernsey had nothing to report.

Although the aircraft had a very basic radio, it wasn’t powerful enough to be picked up by any ground stations, of which there was nothing suitable within a radius of 100 miles. The following year, Guernsey Airways was fined £300 for not having fitted its aircraft with the kind of radio approved by the Secretary of State for Air.

Eventually, the remaining bodies washed up. The resulting inquiry, which was conducted in Jersey, found that none of the victims showed any signs of injury from a crash. This suggested that the Cloud of Iona had put down on the sea in a fairly controlled manner and the passengers and crew had drowned after she had broken up. The sea had been rough at the time, with waves of up to 10m (30ft) reported.


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