|This strange aircraft was the
General Aircraft GAL/56. It was a tailless experimental glider which
arrived at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, Farnborough in the spring
of 1946. Those who flew it - it was normally towed to about 20,000 feet
by a Spitfire IX and then released - described it as the worse aircraft
they had ever flown! The flight observers - it was a two seat aircraft
- were just frightened.
By August 1947 the tests were completed at the R.A.E. and the aircraft
was flown to nearby Lasham where General Aircraft’s chief test pilot,
Robert Kronfeld was to repeat some of the tests for his own benefit.
Unfortunately he was caught out by its stalling characteristics and
got into a spin from which he never recovered. The aircraft came down
just to the north of Lower Froyle and one of the world’s most experienced
glider pilots died in the crash. The Alton Gazette reported in February 1948:-
|“An experimental aircraft from General Aircraft, known locally as the Flying Wing crashed into Rockhouse Field, Lower Froyle, at mid-day yesterday, and one man, the pilot, is believed to have been killed. He was promtly removedin an ambulance. A second man landed by parachute and escaped with shock. Mr F Pinnells, an agricultural worker of Westbrook Cottages, Froyle Road, told our reporter that he was riding a carthorse home to lunch when he saw an aeroplane approaching at roof-top level. It appeared to be flying upside-down, and he saw a man drop from it by parachute. Mrs Pinnells said that she was resting on a settee by the fire in her cottage when she heard a rushing and whistling noise, and through the window she saw the aeroplane crash.”