ALMOST a century ago, a crowd of onlookers gathered next to the wreckage of a plane near Oxford's Port Meadow.

The crash on September 10, 1912, killed the pilot, Lieutenant Claude Bettington, 30, and his observer, Second Lieutenant Edward Hotchkiss, 28.

The following year, a plaque was erected in memory of the two airmen at the site known as Airmen’s Bridge, near The Trout pub in Wolvercote.

Now Jericho resident Paul Hornby is calling for the centenary of the crash to be properly observed.

Mr Hornby, 61, of Walton Crescent, a former city council planning officer, has contacted the council to suggest a wreath-laying ceremony on the 100th anniversary.

He has also written to RAF Brize Norton to request a fly-past.

Mr Hornby, a former Army cadet, has also approached the council to ask for help from events staff to organise the ceremony on Monday, September 10.

He said: “These days, the public are encouraged to support the military, and I think this is an occasion worth remembering.

“I walk across Port Meadow a lot and I think this is an anniversary worth marking – it’s an important piece of local history.

“I urge local organisations, especially those of ex-servicemen, not to let the centenary go unmarked.

“I would like to see as many people as possible honour the memory of these two brave young aviators.”

Oxfordshire historian Malcolm Graham, 64, from Botley, said: “It would be very fitting to have a ceremony to celebrate the centenary of this early aviation accident.

“The crash attracted huge attention at the time and there was a procession through the city centre following the accident.

“The Royal Flying Corps was only established in May, 1912, so these two men were among the very earliest aviators to die in England while supporting Army manoeuvres.

“By June 1913, more than 2,000 people had contributed to the plaque.”

The Bristol Coanda Military Monoplane was due to land on Port Meadow, but crashed after a wire came loose and tore a hole in the fabric of the starboard wing.

Lt Bettington, whose family came from New Zealand, was flung to his death from the aircraft, which had set off from Salisbury, while Second Lt Hotchkiss died in the wreckage.

Lt Bettington had served as a young officer with the Royal Artillery before joining the Royal Flying Corps while Second Lt Hotchkiss was Chief Test Pilot for the Bristol Aircraft Company.

Oxford City Council spokesman Louisa Dean said the council will discuss the possibility of marking the anniversary.