Leeds & West Yorkshire

Plaque to mark William Rowland Ding crash site in Leeds

W Rowland Ding Image copyright Julian Ding
Image caption William Rowland Ding became a celebrity due to his flying exploits

A pilot killed in a crash a century ago is to be remembered with a ceremony later.

Hundreds watched as the wing of William Rowland Ding's plane broke off during a display at Oakwood in Leeds on 12 May 1917.

The plane then fell hundreds of feet to the ground.

Members of the pilot's family and the Deputy Lord Lieutenant of West Yorkshire will unveil a plaque marking the crash site.

A minute's silence will also be held.

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Rowland Ding was a test pilot at Blackburn's - a leading aircraft maker based on Roundhay Road, Leeds.

He was regarded as having flown more types of aircraft than anyone else in England after gaining a pilot's licence in 1914.

Image copyright Julian Ding
Image caption Postcards of him at events were produced

His grandson, Julian Ding, said he had built a reputation and stories of his exploits and flights were regularly reported.

He said he had survived a number of earlier crashes and described him as a Victorian 'adrenaline junkie'.

"But there is almost an inevitability to these sort of people, taking risks and taking that one risk too far and it costing them their lives," he said.

The crash occurred as he performed a series of loops which put too much strain on the delicate wings.

Image copyright Julian Ding
Image caption Ding had survived a number of crashes including this one at Northallerton

Eric Suddell witnessed the crash as an 8-year-old. In an interview before his death in 2008 he explained what happened.

"We saw him [Ding] loop the loop and when he was at the top the wing came off, and down he went.

"I ran to tell my father. I said 'Ding's fallen dad.'

"The next day we went up there and saw the plane with its nose buried down."

The plaque will be unveiled this evening at 18:00 BST marking the moment of the crash a century ago.

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