De Havilland DH60 Moth VH-UGO

Unlike most of the DH60 Moths owned by the Civil Aviation Branch, this aircraft (c/n 424) was not purchased new.

It was constructed at De Havilland's factory at Stag Lane, UK, as a DH60X Moth in August 1927 and was powered by an 80 hp Cirrus Mk II. It was ordered by Norman Brearley's West Australian Airways (WAA) for their Perth Flying School to replace an earlier Moth, G-AUFI, which crashed in July 1927.

The aircraft was shipped to Australia and erected in Major Hereward De Havilland's workshop in Whiteman St, Mlebourne. It was towed through the streets to Essendon for trial flights, one of 18 Moths erected this way in 1927.

In September 1927 WAA submitted an application for registration. The CAB allocated the marks G-AUGK, but WAA requested an alternative to avoid possible confusion with their Moth G-AUFK. On 13 September the aircraft was therefore registered as G-AUGO. A Certificate of Airworthiness was issued for G-AUGO on 7 December.

G-AUGO was subsequently used for pilot training, based at Perth/Maylands. On 25 May 1928 it flew experimental night operations at Maylands to test lighting for the planned WAA Perth-Adelaide service. The pilots were Norman and Stanley Brearley, and the lighting comprised floodlights on the ground and headlights on the aircraft.

In line with the general change-over of registration markings G-AUGO was required to be changed to VH-UGO, the change to be completed by 31 August 1930. The photo above shows the aircraft at Wagin, WA, after the markings were changed.

By early 1930 the Australian Aero Club (WA Section) was ready to take over training operations on its own behalf. The remaining two WAA Moths (VH-UFK & VH-UGO) were sold to the Civil Aviation Board for immediate re-issue on loan to the Club, which commenced operations in March.


The lower photo shows VH-UGO heading the line at the start of the Subiaco Flying Club Cup on 24 October 1931. The Australian Aero Club logo can be made out on the nose of the aircraft.

Over the next few years the aircraft suffered the usual run of minor accidents typical of the Moths used for training until it was destroyed in a fatal accident at Picton Junction, WA, on 29 November 1933. The pilot was Stanley W Catlett, an ex-speedway driver, who held a British Pilot's Licence only. He had flown to Bunbury as a passenger in Miss Williams' Moth VH-UJH and he then flew the Aero Club Moth VH-UGO without authorisation. This was the Aero Club's first fatal crash.

At the time of the accident, VH-UGO had 2170 hours 30 minutes total flying time.

(Photos: Geoff Goodall collection)

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