I came across a sad little story when doing a little local historical research. This occurred way back in August 1934. For a few years in the ’30s, before Jersey Airport was built, planes used to land on the beach at West Park. This was of course the dawning of the age of commercial air travel and Jersey Airways at the time offered flights to and from London (Heston), Portsmouth and Rennes.

(The first aircraft actually landed on the beach in 1912, but this was as part of a French race. The pilot apparently got very fed up with the Jersey folk mobbing his plane, preventing him from taking off again and costing him the race.)

Of course Health & Safety didn’t have capital letters in those days. If a plane was expected, or was ready to take off, people were just shooed away a bit. Anyway it was late one Saturday afternoon and the aircraft St Ouen’s Bay lined up to take off to the west. As it gathered power it slewed to the right. The captain was unable to straighten up or to halt the aircraft. It hit a nine-year old lad, name of Denis Dutot, and killed him more or less outright, with his friend being badly hurt. It was the first aviation-related death in Jersey.

I wonder if the descendants of the lad’s family still live in Jersey? I might do the research in due course. In the meantime I hope young Denis is resting in peace.

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