A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

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A complete list of Alan Cobham's 'National Aviation Day' displays in 1934

l to r: Martin Hearn, Flt-Lt Geoffrey Tyson, and Mr Johnstone (sic)

GROUP CAPTAIN "JOHNNIE" JOHNSTON, who died in 2002 aged 83, was seized with an ambition to follow his father as a pilot and specialist navigator after hearing of his death as navigator of the ill-fated airship R 101.

Johnston, as he liked to reminisce, was "born with both ears cocked for the sound of aero engines" and brought up in the airship and aviation community. His first memories of aeroplanes dated from Croydon aerodrome in 1924, when he spent his time scrambling about in Handley Page W 8 biplane airliners and the eight-passenger DH 34s which served on the London to Paris route.

His father had joined Daimler Airways as navigation officer shortly before Daimler was absorbed into Imperial Airways. Aged six, Johnston climbed the ladder to reach the cockpit, where he would daydream for hours.

"The DH 34 was the biggest influence in making concrete my intention to become an aeroplane pilot," he recalled. Later he transferred his affections to the DH 61 of Sir Alan Cobbam's flying circus, known as the "Giant Moth", which was to stir the ambitions of a generation of boys who became Second World War aircrew.

Shortly afterwards, however, Johnston's enthusiasm switched to airships, following his father's appointment as navigation special assistant in the newly-created Directorate of Airship Development.

 

 

Mo Tu We Th Fr Sa Su
April
9 10 11 12 13

14

Dagenham

15

Guildford

16

Alton

17

Devizes

18

Weston-super-Mare

19

Bath

20

Malvern

21

Leamington Spa

22

Birmingham

23

Leek

24

Lymm

25

Bolton

26

Cockermouth

27

Whitehaven

28

Carlisle

29

Barrow-in-Furness

30

Penrith

           
May
 

1

Dumfries

2

Kelso

3

Lanark

4

Kirkintilloch

5

Cambuslang

6

Edinburgh

7

Dundee

8

Dundee

9

Macduff

10

Peterhead

11

Huntly

12

Aberdeen

13

Aberdeen

14

Inverness

15

Thurso

16

Wick (Westerseat)

17

Tain

(Morangie)

18

Lossiemouth & Elgin

19

Berwick-on-Tweed

20

Tynemouth

21

Tynemouth

22

Chester-le-Street

23

Darlington

24

Sheffield

25

Knottingley

26

Doncaster

27

Sunderland

28

Scarborough

29

Louth

30

Retford

31

Scunthorpe

     
June
       

1

Market Weighton

2

Brighouse

3

Brighouse

4

Redcar

5

Richmond (Yorkshire)

6

Derby

7

Stoke-on-Trent

8

Walsall

9

Birmingham

10

Birmingham

11

Bedford

12

High Wycombe

13

Reading

14

Chesham

15

Sherborne

16

Bristol

17

Birmingham

18

Rugby

19

Worcester

20

Kidderminster

21

Nottingham

(Tollerton)

22

Southport

23

Woodford

24

Leamington Spa

25

Ramsey

26

Colchester

27

Penshurst

28

Swalecliffe

29

Petersfield

30

Farnborough

 
July
           

1

Gravesend

2

Uckfield

3

Thakeham

4

Southampton

5

Havant

6

Whitchurch

7

Bournemouth

8

Ryde

9

Shanklin

10

Wimborne

11

Blandford

12

Newbury

13

Trowbridge

14

Bristol

15

Wolverhampton

16

Aberystwyth

17

Aberystwyth

18

Pwllheli

19

-

20

Birkenhead

21

Liverpool

22

Aintree

23

Blackpool

24

Bury

25

Bolton

26

Blackburn

27

Unsworth

28

Manchester

29

Manchester

30

Pershore

31

Lynton

         
August
   

1

Barnstaple

2

Newquay

3

Penzance

4

Mullion

5

Padstow

Read More...

6

Falmouth

7

St Austell

8

Exeter

9

Exmouth

10

Lyme Regis

11

Teignmouth

12

Taunton

13

Crewkerne

14

Swanage

15

Littlehampton

16

Winchester

17

Bognor

18

Shoreham

19

Shoreham

20

Hastings

21

Hastings

22

Tunbridge Wells

23

Bexhill

24

Folkestone

25

Rochester

26

Birchington

27

Sheppey

28

Southend

29

Frinton

30

Gt Yarmouth

31

Cromer

   
September
         

1

Hunstanton

2

Wakefield

3

Hull

4

Saltburn

5

Stockton-on-Tees

6

Stockton-on-Tees

7

W Hartlepool

8

Newcastle-on-Tyne

9

Gateshead

10

Leeds

11

Ely

12

Sutton (Cambs)

13

Sutton (Cambs)

14

Northampton

15

Tunstall

16

Tunstall

17

Lincoln

18

Sutton-on-Sea (Lincs)

19

Burton-on-Trent

20

Leicester

21

Kettering

22

Coventry

23

Slough

24

Hereford

25

Cardiff

26

Barry

27

Port Talbot

28

Chepstow

29

Staines

30

Romford

- End of season -

 

 

August 5th, Padstow:

"TICKETS TO BE RETURNED Sunday Flying Protest DECISION AT PADSTOW Council And Aerial Circus STRONG disapproval of Sir Alan Cobham's proposed visit to Padstow on Sunday next with his flying circus to give a display at Porthmissen Farm was expressed at a meeting of Padstow Urban Council on Tuesday evening, when Mr. N. Parkin presided. The Clerk (Mr. F. A. Williams) announced that Sir Alan had sent the Council a number of tickets for free flights in one of his air liners on Sunday. The Chairman: Take my ticket and send it back to him, and tell him as far as I am concerned I am very much opposed to Sunday flying or anything of that sort."

September 3, Hull:

"MAN WHO FLEW THE CHANNEL UPSIDE DOWN. HE IS COMING TO HULL AIR CIRCUS Hull shortly to see the pilot who recently celebrated the anniversary of Bleriot's pioneer Channel flight by doing the same flight— upside-down. He is Flight-Lieutenant Geoffrey Tyson, who is coming to Hull as principal display pilot in Sir Alan Cobham's flying circus."

 

Alan Cobham: "My pilots could make mistakes, sometimes fatally. In 1934 one of our stunt pilots, Jock Mackay, was amusing the crowd with the 'crazy flying routine', in which some very experienced pilot would put on unsuitable clothes and climb aboard an aircraft and take it off, while we all cried 'stop that man!' as though he were really an unqualified member of the public. The performance that followed - of wildly erratic flying very close to the ground, with the supposedly incompetent pilot climbing out onto the wing and back again and buffooning in every way - was very amusing to those who had tumbled to the trick, if frightening to those that hadn't, and it was a regular part of our show. But on this occasion Jock seems to have got the stick tangled up with his leg and the throttle, and he hit the ground before he could release it; he died that night in hospital."

 

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