A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

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  photo: '31, aged 25

Mr Charles Exton Gardner

Aeronautical engineer 'with his own aerodrome at home in Surrey'. Always nice to have.

"Flew to India [in 1936] to compete in the Viceroy's Cup Race"

King's Cup in 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937

photo: 1916, aged 21, when a Lieut in the 16th Durham Light Infantry

Capt Gerald William Gathergood

b. 15 June 1895 in Tilney St Lawrence, Norfolk

WWI pilot. His flying was described thus: "he always threw all machines about the sky in a most alarming manner".

Became a dental surgeon, married Peggy Thompson in 1930, played golf and ...

d. 21 May 1966 aged 70

Aerial Derby in 1919

 

photo: 1929, aged 47

Lieut-Col Andrew Hamilton Gault D.S.O.

An English-born Canadian who served in the Boer War and then founded a regiment - Princess Patricia's Own Canadian Light Infantry - with his own money in 1914. Recruiting was brisk: ten days later the regiment was 1,098 strong. He became its third commanding officer, but was wounded several times and lost his left leg. On May 7th, 1915 they were 635; by the end of the following day they numbered 150. Andrew was one of only two of its officers to survive WWI.

In 1920 his fiancée, a Mrs Kathleen Blackader, died when the car he was driving skidded and overturned; she was trapped underneath and he was unable to free her. Her daughter Margaret later became his ward.

In 1922 he 'quietly' married Dorothy Blanche Shuckburgh, and they settled at Hatch Court, Taunton. His military record stood him in good stead when he tried for election as an Unionist (i.e. Conservative) M.P., but he narrowly failed to overturn a near-3,000 Liberal majority in 1923. He was back the following year, however, this time successfully, and was Taunton's M.P. until 1935 - serving on various committees and much involved in local politics: President of the 'Society of Somerset Folk', and he regularly gave a cup for the 'best fat beast' in the Taunton Christmas Show.

He and Dorothy flew to Germany in 1933 as members of a party making a holiday tour, and met (speaking of fat beasts) Herman Goering and Adolf Hitler. [Lynsdey Everard, A E Borton and Mrs and Mrs Runciman were also on this tour].

d. 28th November 1958 in Montreal, aged 76.

Kings Cup in 1930

Lady G-AAGA

(actually, Dorothy Blanche Hamilton Gault. That was a joke)

Dorothy Shuckburgh as was, Andrew's second wife.

"An owner-pilot, Mrs Hamilton-Gault, has with her husband travelled England and the Continent for four years in a Moth rejoicing in the registration letters 'G-AAGA'.

She is an example of the practical lady pilot whose aeroplane is used, when weather permits, for all travelling in England and abroad. Once a week or more, in summer, she flies to London and back to her home in Somerset.

She is, however, forced to use the aerodrome at Yeovil - some distance from her home - owing to the lack of landing grounds in the Somerset Hills, which keeps a number of air-minded people in the county from taking up flying."

Dorothy died in 1972, at Hatch Court

Gerrit Johannis Geijsendorpher

 

Born 1st April, 1892 in Sliedrecht

Like Koene Dirk Parmentier, Gerrit also died in an accident in KLM service. On 26 January 1947 his Douglas DC-3 crashed shortly after takeoff from Kastrup Copenhagen Airport in Denmark, killing all 22 on board. Among the victims were the Swedish prince Gustav Adolph and the American singer Grace Moore.

 

MacRobertson Race in 1934

photo: 1918, when a 2nd Liet, aged 19

photo: 1930, aged 31

Flt-Lt Frank George Gibbons

from Peterborough; WWI air ace (14 victories); killed in May 1932, flying into a tree during the Morning Post (Heston) air race.

 

The tragic loss of Fit. Lt. Frank George Gibbons during the race organised by the Morning Post on Saturday, May 21, was one which came as a shock to his many friends. It would appear fairly certain that his death was due to his colliding with a tree while looking at his maps inside the cockpit, and was in no way caused by any defect in the "Spartan" three-seater he was flying at the time. He was a particularly likeable character, besides being an outstanding expert as a pilot.

He was one of those people about whom one never heard any gossip, and his likeable character is shown by the fact that although he was the best of companions at the kind of party which usually finishes an air meeting, he was equally at home spending an afternoon playing with young children.

He first joined the R.F.C. in June, 1917, as an air mechanic (cadet), and gained his commission in November of the same year. He was gazetted as a Fit. Lt. on June 1, 1926, and won the D.F.C. for services in the field.

Not only was he a very fine pilot of land aircraft, but also of flying boats. On January 5, 1931, he went to Calshot, and from there he was posted to No. 204 Flying Boat Squadron at Mountbatten, Plymouth, of which he was a member at the time of his death.

He was a brilliant navigator, and this form of race was one in which he was particularly interested. It is perhaps, therefore, some consolation to feel that if he himself could have had the choice, he would have undoubtedly have chosen to die when flying "flat-out" during such a race, in the manner he did.

The funeral took place at Ipswich on Wednesday, May 25. He was 33 years of age and unmarried.

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1932/1932%20-%200517.html

 

King's Cup in 1930, 1931

F/O John Woodburn Gillan DFC and bar, AFC

b c1907. From Edinburgh.

Established a world's land plane record in an RAF Hawker Hurricane on February 10, 1938; flying "blind", he covered the 327 miles from Edinburgh to London in 48 minutes, an average speed of 408.75mph. This feat earned him the nickname of 'Downwind Gillan'.

AFC in January 1939 as Sqn Ldr.

Killed in WWII: 29th August 1941, when a Wing Commander (pilot) RAF; buried Dunkirk.

 

King's Cup in 1930, 1931, 1932

Harold Darwin Gilman

b. 29 April 1906 in Neutral Bay, Sydney

Died on 23rd October 1934 in Italy (crashed during the MacRobertson Race), aged 28

 

"Flt. Lt. Gilman took his "A" in 1926 with the Auckland Aero Club. Shortly afterwards he joined the N.Z. Staff Corps and was sent to Aldershot in 1928 on attachment to the Suffolk Regiment. In 1929 he was transferred to the R.A.F. "Refreshed" at No. 2 F.T.S. (Digby), he was posted to No. 101 (Bomber) Sqd. at Andover, under Wing Com. F. H. Coleman, whose adjutant he remained until 1933. Gilman took part in all squadron experiments, including the high-precision bombing of H.M.S. Centurion. Last year, on conclusion of the annual Combined Exercises, he was sent as assistant adjutant to No. 600 (City of London) Sqd. under the late Sqd. Leader S. B. Collett. Finally, after brief attachment to the C.F.S. (Wittering), he was posted to the newly formed No. 15 (Bomber) Sqd. at Abingdon, of which he commands "B" Flight. His log-books show 1,560 hr. Gilman has been granted special leave to accompany Baines in the race to Australia."

MacRobertson Race in 1934

Mr Geoffrey Goodwin


King's Cup in 1930

RAeC 1938

Margaret Wyndham 'Margot' Gore MBE, Doctor of Osteopathy (DO)

 b. 24 Jan 1913 in Worthing, W. Sussex; educated at Bedford High School (but mainly grew up in Ireland).

I reckon Margot was one of those people who get to be 'Head Girl', all their life. Having only made her first solo flight in November 1938 at Romford Flying Club, she was one of the Assistant Instructors there by the following September, along with Gabrielle Patterson and Joan Hughes (q.q.v.)

On the outbreak of WWII, she was one of the second batch of women pilots for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA), starting on the 25 June 1940 as 'W.10' - the 10th woman pilot. She was consistently praised, both for her flying and her organisational ability: "First Officer Gore is a very steady and reliable pilot and has undertaken responsibilities in the office which she has carried out well."

ATA Margot Gore Brief Glory

Eventually, she was promoted to be Officer Commanding, No 15 Ferry Pool of women pilots at Hamble - one of only two women to achieve the rank of 'Commander', the other being Marion Wilberforce.

ATA 15FPP15 FPP pilots,  between flights.

She was also one of the 11 women cleared to fly 4-engined aircraft, which she did so from May 1943 - "A keen and confident pilot of above average ability", but once she took over as OC Hamble, she cut down her flying hours considerably, prompting the Head of the ATA (Gerard d'Erlanger) to write "In her capacity of Commanding Officer, No 15 Ferry Pool, Commander Gore runs her Pool in an eminently satisfactory manner. However, I am very surprised that she has only done some 5 hours flying in seven months on ferry types. There may be some reason for this of which I am unaware, but if not she must make every effort to put in time."

And finally, she was one of only 6 women to get a medal for her service in the ATA - an MBE in 1946.

[The other MBEs were Felicity Bragg, Pauline Gower, Joan Hughes, Roy (Mary) Sharpe and Rosemary Rees, although Phillippa Bennett, Victoria Cholmondley and Elisabeth May got 'Commendations'.]

Margot and Joan 1947 Margot and Joan in 1947 (The Times)

In 1947, she signed on as 'Recruit No. 1' for the Women's Auxiliary Air Force Volunteer Reserve (Flying) List, designed to train pilots for non-operational duties in emergencies. Joan Nayler, another ATA Woman pilot, was No. 2.

She then became Managing Director of the West London Aero Club for a while, until her career took another direction entirely; in 1952, aged 39, she passed out as Gold Medallist (of course) at the British School of Osteopathy and later practised as an osteopath, eventually becoming (of course) its Chairman.

In retirement she was "an enthusiastic golfer". I bet she was good at that, too.

d. 28 Aug 1993

One of the ATA Women

photo: 1927, aged 28

Mr Fred Gough

From Norwich, a 'cardboard and container manufacturer'. Joined the RFC as a private in 1916.

Manager of the Norfolk and Norwich Aero Club from 1927.

King's Cup in 1931

Pauline Mary de Peauly Gower MBE

photo: 1930

b. 22nd July 1910 in Tunbridge Wells; younger daughter of Sir Robert Gower, M.P for Gillingham, Kent.

5 feet 5 in height, in case you wondered.

"In England you can count on one hand the women who are making a living directly from flying. Probably foremost among them are the two girl flyers, Pauline Gower and Dorothy Spicer, who work in partnership at joy-riding. Miss Gower is the pilot and Miss Spicer the mechanic."

Amy Mollison, writing in 1934

"Pauline Gower, one of the few women who has already achieved a successful commercial flying career, did joyriding last year in 185 different towns with a travelling air circus."

Mary Bertha de Bunsen

She was fined £222 in 1933, having taxied her Spartan into a stationary Moth at Cardiff while giving joy-rides in an air pageant (although she reckoned it had definitely moved since she checked where it was). Three years later, she was taken to hospital suffering from concussion and 'lacerations of the scalp' after she ... collided with another aeroplane on the ground, this time at Coventry airport.

During her air-taxi career, she was reckoned to have piloted more than 33,000 passengers.

In 1937 she, Amy Johnson and Dorothy Spicer invited "all women pilots interested in the idea of a central meeting-place for women aviators in London" to write to them, but I don't think it ever happened.

Founder and first Commandant of the Women's Section of the Air Transport Auxiliary in 1940; from 1943, a board member of BOAC. She had a narrow escape in August 1943 when 'Fortuna', an old Imperial Airways airliner, with her and 7 other BOAC officers aboard, made a forced landing near Shannon and was written off.

Married Wing Commander William Cusack Fahie in June 1945, but died of a heart attack in March 1947 giving birth to twin boys, one of whom, Michael, later published 'A Harvest of Memories' about her.

She owned:

a 1929 Simmonds Spartan, G-AAGO, (the one which she wrote off in the taxying accident in Cardiff in August 1933), and then

a 1931 Spartan Three Seater, G-ABKK, the one which she wrote off in the taxying accident at Coventry in May 1936.



Pauline Gower and Dorothy Spicer

In Memory

claudia parsons

by Claudia Parsons

 from "The Woman Engineer", Spring 1948

It is grimly ironical that Mrs Fahie, M.B.E., and Mrs Richard Pearse, better known as Pauline Gower and Dorothy Spicer, after the risks of their early youth and of the war, should meet death, the one through the age-old hazard of child-birth, the other as a passenger in an air liner flying to South America. It is also grimly tragic that these partners who risked, endured and enjoyed so much together should die within a year of each other. Though neither got further than the middle thirties they filled the brief interval between attaining majority and leaving life with a record of hard work, pioneering experience and fine achievement that was as gallant as it was short lived.

Yet in using that word 'gallant' one hesitates, not questioning its truth but out of consideration for the two who achieved this record, whose aim was never more than to pursue a private ambition and to do it well. The word 'gallant' would have been held by them in derision.

I feel honoured to write the appreciation of these two fellow members of The Women's Engineering Society, whose careers I always followed with particular interest since first meeting them on a tour of the Ford works at Dagenham, organised by the W.E.S. Mere babes they then seemed, the one very round of face the other with fairest hair, and it was only in the course of this visit that I learnt their names and remembered having read that Sir Robert Gower, M.P., had given his daughter an aeroplane as a twenty-first birthday present and that now, with Dorothy Spicer as her ground engineer, she was using the plane to give people joy-rides and for aerial taxi service.

In the following years as I watched these two soar ever higher, in the metaphorical rather than the literal sense, I used to ponder this parental gesture which, so early as 1931, might have seemed to many to be rash and courting trouble, and reflected how often really enterprising acts were well rewarded and that here was one that had laid the foundation stone of two successful careers. In this I was not altogether accurate; this was the coping rather than the foundation stone. The gesture was indeed the greatest assistance but in no means were Pauline or Dorothy ever financed or given much moral support in their early ambition, which at first was viewed as a joke by their contemporaries. Like Madame Curie, and others of set purpose, before embarking on their careers they had to find the money with which to train, and in this interest Dorothy spent a year in a London store and Pauline gave violin lessons and lectures at schools. This was while still in their teens and before joining forces, in their twenties, at Stag Lane aerodrome where they decided to go into partnership. Already therefore, in 1931, in spite of opposition and setback, Pauline had her A and B Flying Licences and Dorothy had an A Pilot's Licence and Engineer's Licence, and one rather gathers, reading the pages of Women with Wings - the book the two of them later published - that the hand of Sir Robert Gower was forced rather then held out eagerly with the gift of a two-seater Spartan plane. The gift was advanced only in the face of the inevitable, and as a safety measure, Pauline so often coming home late for meals with harrowing tales of forced landings with hired machines. (The forced landings were not always the fault of the machine.)

Indeed, in those early days of gaining experience, Pauline on a cross-country flight often came down to ask the way; there were narrow margins between forced landings and the petrol running dry; there was the occasion of flying the Channel at 250 feet and of making a forced landing at Brussels and finding it was Liege. Yes, there were many harrowing moments whose memory later made thri blood run cold, but there was also the exuberance and confidence of youth and a very decided will to conquer. It was perhaps typical that in her night flying test for the B Pilot's Licence, after two hours in the air, cut off from the earth by a ground fog that had formed, Pauline, determined not to become panic-stricken, suddenly remembered an old friend - her mouth organ - on which she played 'Show me the way to go home'. And she was shown.

If these two started with a light-hearted attitude towards flying, their subsequent experiences in joy-riding, in joining up with Air Pageants and Air Circuses and in working in all weathers and cvonditions, gave them a far higher sense of respinsibility. They formed themselves into a Limited Liability Company - Air Trips, Ltd. - and worked for two seasons from a field near Hunstanton where they themselves camped beside their plane in a caravan. B~y the time she had carried 3,000 passengers Pauline was foremost among women air pilots in skill and reliability and had added to her A and B Licences a Navigator's Licence and a G.P.O. Wireless Operator's Certificate. Meanwhile Dorothy had had wide experience of servicing machines and in the winter, during enforced flying activity, had studied for her Engineer's Licences, the first woman ever to attain the A, B, C and D Engineering Licences. Pauline often stressed how much the safety of herself and her passengers depended on Dorothy's efficient care of the machine; her praise was equally divided between Dorothy's engineering ability and, on those long periods of camping, her excellent cooking.

It is scarcely necessary to to remind fellow members of the later achievements of these two pioneers. With such experience behind them it is not surprising that they gave valuable service to their country both during the war and in the years preceeding it when they played a leading part in making the public air-minded. Members of the WES will remember papers read by each of them at the September Conference in 1937. In 1938 Dorothy joined the staff of the Air Registration Board and added to her qualifications a No 1 Glider's (Engineering) Licence. Later in this year, and with Pauline as her bridesmaid, she was married to Squadron Leader Richard Pearse who, when the war broke out, was in the RAF Coastal Command. Just before the war Patricia Mary was born and later Dorothy took up war work with the Ministry of Aircraft Production on research in connection with engines in flight. With her husband posted to her Flight, she had the unique opprtunity of working in war-time together with her husband. It was after the war, in December, 1946, and retired from their war activities, that Wing Commander and Mrs Pearse lost their lives in the air liner that crashed near Rio de Janeiro. Their daughter Patricia survives them.

In the meantime Pauline, who in 1938, had obtained an Air Ministry's Instructor's Licence, had been appointed to serve on the Committee investigating the position of civil aviation in this country, and later was made District Commissioner for the London area of the Civil Air Guard. Of her activities in building up the Women's branch of the A.T.A., members of the WES heard her oqn account when, in 1946, she gave us an interesting talk on this subject, accompanied now by her husband, Wing Commander Fahie, RAFVR, to whom she was married in 1945.

When invited to be Commandant of the women pilots in the A.T.A., Pauline stipulated that she must have a free hand in order to do this, a condition for which, interestingly, another great woman pioneer stipulated when asked to take over the hospital service in the Crimea. The fine achievement of the women serving in the A.T.A., their record, and the fact that some of them were finally ferrying heavy four-engined bombers, is a proof of how well Pauline used her powers. In 1943 she was appointed a member of the board of the British Overseas Airways Corporation. Pauline died on March 2nd, 1947, her twin sons surviving her.

That is the record of what they did; a bleak summary of achievements is unavailing, however, unless some mention is also made of what they were. Impressive as their qualifications, achievbements and later honours might be, it was the human side that interested most people, it was their pleasant unaffected charm that everyone noticed. One can pay no higher tribute to Dorothy than to recall Pauline's description of her, referring to their partnership, as one whose 'business' reliability proved always as unfailing as her friendship. There is also the tribute paid by Amy Johnson, who was their friend of long standing and who finally worked under Pauline for the A.T.A. In the foreword she wrote for Women with Wings she refers to staying at Pauline's home at Tunbridge Wells and listening to her and Dorothy singing to the banjulele, and winds up: "I played the part of spectator, admiring the utterly unspoiled character of two girls who have done more than their bit in making aviation history."

They owed their leading position in the field of aviation to hard work and often severe discomfort; they never set out on record-breaking or otherwise spectacular flights; they did what they did because they enjoyed it and it was the thing they had chosen and wanted to master. There was no intention of ending life swiftly and heroically; they had every hope of seeing this precarious century to its final chapter and Pauline in her book prophesied a time when she and Dorothy would be old ladies still flying an antiquated machine and the passengers in a rocket would lean out and say, "Look at those old girls in that pre-historic bus!" Alas, this is no longer a possibility but to what extent air transport has been influenced by the two who will never be old ladies, and whose memory will always be associated with youth, is impossible to measure.

 


One of the ATA Women

Mr D S Green

King's Cup in 1930

Sheila Macdonald Green

b. 5 Feb 1901 in Elgin, Scotland but living in Maidstone, Kent, owned a 1929 Klemm L25 Ia, G-AATD

The Hon Mrs Josephine Greenall

nee Laycock, b. 28 Jun 1908, from Melton Mowbray, owned a 1930 DH.60M Moth, G-AAVE, later sold and re-registered VT-ANS.

Her husband, the Hon. Edward Greenall, was 2nd Baron Daresbury.

photo: 1911, when a Lieut in the Royal Navy, aged 22

Lt-Col Spenser Douglas Adair Grey

born in Rio de Janeiro; later a Wing Commander; DSM, Order of Leopold of Belgium, Croix de Guerre. Died in 1937

King's Cup in 1922

Mr P P Grey

King's Cup in 1929

Mr John Grierson

Having joined the RAF but then regretted it, John tried to resign in 1931. However, his resignation being refused, he smuggled himself from where he was stationed in India into his D.H.60G Moth 'Rouge et Noir' (which he had bought from Glen Kidston, and which was painted red one side and - you guessed it - black the other), and flew home, making long hops to avoid R.A.F. aerodromes. "The business was settled in the end without a courtmartial, though not without a period of open arrest".

Next came a solo flight of 9,000 miles round Russia, and then an abortive attempt on the Arctic air route in Rouge et Noir equipped as a seaplane; a nose-over into a choppy sea at Reykjavik put paid to the attempt.

Rebuilt, and fitted with wheels and ski equipment, the little Moth finally carried Mr. Grierson round Eastern Europe in mid-winter.

Then, in 1934, he made a successful westbound Atlantic flight via Iceland in his de Havilland Fox Moth 'Robert Bruce'.

Transferred to Hawker and then Gloster as a test pilot; he was one of four pilots to fly Britain's first jet aircraft, the Gloster/ Whittle E.28/39.

Wing commander after WWII, then a Member of the Council of the Royal Geographical Society.

d. 21 May 1977 in Washington DC, aged 68. He was addressing a symposium at the Smithsonian's Air and Space Museum to mark the 50th anniversary of Lindbergh's transatlantic flight when he was taken ill; he died a few hours later in hospital.

King's Cup in 1931, 1932

photo: 1929, aged 20

Miss Diana C Guest

Frederick's daughter; later sculptress Diana Guest Manning. [Mr Manning was one of her 3 husbands].

"I was born and brought up in the country in England. My parents, Amy Phipps and Frederick Guest, met in India and married a year later in London. They settled in a beautiful Queen Anne house near Oakham named Burley on the Hill".

In 1981 "Miss Guest, who divides her time between Paris and Palm Beach, Fla., and whose works have been exhibited in museums around the world, has donated 27 pieces of her sculpture to Old Westbury Gardens".

Diana owned:

  • 1929 Hawker Tomtit G-AALL, then
  • 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-AAZP, which later became SU-AAC in Egypt and was impressed in WWII as HL537.

d. 1994

King's Cup in 1930, 1931

photo: 1929, aged 54

Capt (later Sqn-Ldr, Air-Comm) the Hon Frederick Edward Guest CBE DSO MP

b. 14 June 1875 in London.

'Freddie', Winston Churchill's cousin; Liberal then Conservative politician (Secretary of State for Air in 1920-22, despite the fact that, at the time, he knew "very little about aviation, but it is to his credit that he does not pretend to know").

Died 28 April 1937.

King's Cup in 1930, 1931, 1932

photo: 1935, aged 19

photo: 1936

Mr Giles Connop MacEacharn Guthrie

Shown here, for comparison, just before, and just after, he grew his moustache.

"Giles Guthrie is the only son of Sir Connop and Lady Guthrie. His enthusiasm for flying has roused his father's active interest in the aviation industry. Only 20 years of age, he is the youngest pilot and the only undergraduate to take part in a long distance air race. For the Johannesburg race, the Cambridge University authorities gave him special leave of absence.

Despite his youth, he is a pilot of considerable experience. The Percival Vega Gull in which Charles Scott and he won the Johannesburg race, first tasted victory in the King's Cup this year. Giles Guthrie then flew as co-pilot with Charles E Gardner .

When Sir Connop decided to enter the machine in the Johannesburg race and chose Charles Scott to fly it, one condition was that Scott should take young Giles with him."

- from the Celebration Dinner programme after the race (October 14th 1936 at Claridge's Hotel).

Had used his Vega Gull for a "good deal of continental touring".

Later Sir Giles, J.P., merchant banker. Died 1979

 

Schlesinger Race in 1936

King's Cup in 1937, 1938


 

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