Travel theme: Tilted in Egypt

As you might imagine, I am not the man behind the lens for this photograph but my maternal grandfather, Fred, certainly was – an earlier post shows him standing centre stage at the Sphinx his folding camera in hand. During the Great War he was a mechanic with the Royal Flying Corps training school at Aboukir in Egypt; if you click on “Fred” in the tag cloud, previous posts explain his story

The severely tilted aircraft is probably an Airco D.H.9.  A colleague from my IT days who writes on the subject of early flying provides this interesting insight:  This is unlikely to have been a crash from height – the aircraft is too intact for that.  It is more likely that a trainee pilot made a heavy landing, and by a mixture of throttle mismanagement and a lack of control, managed to bounce his way towards the hangar.

RFC Aboukir

Click on the image to enlarge and there is surprising detail and untold stories in the photograph – the canvas is torn back on the lower wing to reveal its delicate construction; why is the character in the hat sat on the ground and what is that upturned canvas covered object next to him; look closely and there are actually two aircraft in the background and what is the man with the pole about to do!

Without doubt, these are young men from another time where risk is a daily part of their lives.


  1. Brian Hughes · July 23, 2013

    I love photographs like this. The word ‘CRUMP!’ springs to mind.

  2. LaVagabonde · July 23, 2013

    I noticed that person on the ground right away. Very strange!

    • northumbrianlight · July 23, 2013

      I like to think he has been thrown safely clear from the aircraft – seems unlikely but I will pretend.

  3. dorysworld · July 23, 2013

    What an amazing picture … heading off now to read about Fred 🙂

  4. Lignum Draco · July 23, 2013

    Agree that the plane should be destroyed if crashed from a height and a resultant explosion perhaps. Interesting photo for sure.

    • northumbrianlight · July 23, 2013

      Indeed, it is remarkably intact, lets hope the same applied to the pilots.

  5. The Rider · July 23, 2013

    Any landing you can walk away from is a good landing… 🙂

  6. Madelaine · July 25, 2013

    Looks like someone wasn’t paying attention! 🙂

  7. holley4734 · July 26, 2013

    Great pic. Thanks for sharing. I love knowing the story behind the photo.

    • northumbrianlight · July 26, 2013

      Thanks for taking the time to look – I am fortunate – I have quite a lot of information and photos about my grandfather’s life – they never threw anything away, no matter how seemingly trivial.

  8. greenmackenzie · July 27, 2013

    ooops!! and how on earth are they going to get it down. Perhaps the man with the pole hopes to lever it down?

    • northumbrianlight · July 28, 2013

      I think the man with the pole might be looking for the pilot – it reminds me of this:
      Sybil: (Seeing Basil walking down the road with a large garden gnome) Where are you going Basil?
      Basil: Just going to see O’Reilly dear. Then I might go to Canada.

      • greenmackenzie · July 28, 2013

        lol…always love a bit of Faulty Towers!

  9. litadoolan · October 31, 2015

    It’s amazing to see how at ease the men are around the plane. You describe the context well, this shows an important historic time when risk was a normal part of life. Hard to imagine this now. Such an important image.

    • northumbrianlight · October 31, 2015

      Thanks Lita – I am very fortunate to have a collection of images from my grandfather’s time in Egypt during the Great War.

  10. Leonard · October 8

    Great rreading this

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