A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

Contact Me

self portrait

Please feel free to send me your comments, extra information or simply to point out all the mistakes I've made:

Click here: Email Me

photo: 1925, aged 26

Mr Mark Anthony Lacayo

b. Marcos Antonio in Altrincham, Cheshire on 17th April 1898; a 'shipper', but also Comper's Sales Manager.

Killed on 11th February 1946 in a flying accident in a Mosquito, and is buried near Litchfield.

 

http://www.bfhg.org.uk/P-032.php

 

King's Cup in 1932

dora tily lang

Dora Lang

dora lang signature

b. Dora Tily on 30 Mar 1914 in London; mother Amelia (Fielding), her father was a garden contractor.

She joined the government-subsidized Civil Air Guard flying scheme, and got her RAeC Certificate in 1939. She gave her occupation then as 'fancy goods manufacturer'.

Prior to WWII, she had 12 hours solo on Gypsy Moth, B.A. Swallow and Miles Magister (later supplemented by, as she wrote '26 hours duel with the RAF' - she was a Corporal in the WAAF, stationed at Hornchurch in Essex as a 'plotter').

She wrote originally to the ATA in March 1941, following an appeal put out on the wireless by Lord Londonderry:

"Dear Sir,

I possess a pilot's 'A' licence and would very much like to qualify as a ferry pilot. I have 25 hours in my log book and have since done some passenger flying in RAF machines (Magisters). I am studying for a navigator's licence. I would be pleased of the opportunity to fly at my own expense to complete the required number of solo hours necessary to qualify for the advanced training provided under your scheme. I will be very eager to hear if any arrangements can be made.

ACW Dora Lang."

She got the standard reply at the time which was a) you need more hours, and b) we have no training facilities so, No.

She didn't give up, though; she wrote back straight away to say "I am informed by the Air Ministry that I may be able to do the training in Southern Ireland. Can you tell me how many hours I need?"

Well, they said, 50, although people may come here for a flight test with 30.

While she was mulling this over, (things changed quite rapidly for the ATA as 1941 wore on), on the 29 July they said, actually, "there are a few vacancies, come to Hatfield for a flight test."

She took her test on the 9th August, it was satisfactory, and she reported for duty on the 6th September as a Second Officer.

dora lang ata

She flew 17 hrs on Moths, 2 on Harts, 8 on Magisters, and a Swordfish, and was posted to training pool in March 1942. Her instructors' reports were consistently positive: "This pupil came to ATA at practically 'ab initio' stage, but very satisfactory progress made in school has been furthered during stay with T.P. and she should make an excellent ferry pilot. Keen and quietly confident.... very active and attentive".

In May 1942 she went on the conversion course for Hurricanes, and was then posted to Prestwick in July. She was recommended for Class 4 conversion at an early date: "an intelligent and conscientious pilot whose flying is neat and tidy. "

She was promoted to First Officer in March 1943. 

She had an 'incident' in June 1943, for which she was held responsible; when taking off in Spitfire BL991, she attempted to retract the undercarriage too soon after take-off and the throttle slipped back, allowing the aircraft to sink until the propeller tips hit the ground.

Otherwise things progressed well, until the 2nd of March, 1944, when she had two accidents in rapid succession.

She had just been off sick for 2 days, but said she felt better. With her Flight Engineer Janice Harrington, she ferried a Hudson VI FK458 to RAF Cosford, but then ground looped on the icy runway, causing slight damage to the port wing, which she did not report. She and Janice had examined the undercarriage but couldn't see any damage; she then had lunch at RAF Cosford, and "both she and her flight engineer appeared very calm and cheerful, and neither showed any sign whatever of tiredness or strain."

janice harrington 1943 Janice Harrington

Marion Wilberforce wrote that "F/O Lang was a most straightforward officer, and I feel convinced that she would have reported the possibility of damage to the wing had she suspected that such might have occurred. If such damage had been revealed her Pool C.O. would have been contacted before she was allowed to leave the Pool."

They were allowed to leave, however, and she and Janice were then killed in Mosquito VI HP932, which crashed on approach to Lasham.

220px-613 Squadron Mosquito FB.VI at RAF Lasham June 1944

The official report says "Whilst approaching to land the aircraft appeared to undershoot slightly, the throttles were opened gently and then fully, whereupon the aircraft climbed sharply 100 feet, stalled, crashed and was destroyed.

Insufficient evidence to determine the cause, but it is clear that upon the application of full power the pilot failed to get the stick forward quickly enough to prevent the nose of the aircraft rising.

Insufficient evidence to determine responsibility."

On the 10th, her husband wrote: "during her service with the ATA my wife always received the greatest kindness, and she was very proud to be serving in your organisation."

On the 3rd May, her mother added this: "I know my daughter was very happy in her work & with her many kind friends in the ATA & wish to thank them for all their sympathy in our great loss."

One of the ATA Women

ethel nicholson 1930

RAeC 1930

Ethel 'Ruth' Lambton (Ballard)

b. Ethel Ruth Nicholson in Shepperton, 5 Jun 1913. Her parents were Capt William Henry Nicholson and Sybil Wigham.

Educated at Roedean, got her 'matric', and went into welding research as an engineer, working for Arc Manufacturing Co. in Shepherd's Bush.

She married John Lambton in March 1934, and they had one son.

In 1937, she and the Hon. Ruth Cokayne took a 'light-hearted summer tour' to Budapest (via Brussels, Cologne, Munich, and Salzburg) in a Gipsy Moth; a trip which they reckoned cost them about £55 each in total.

ruths cokayne and lambton 1934 Ruth C (l) and Ruth L (r) ('Flight')

They muddled along in a breathless, schoolgirlish sort of way. In Frankfurt, all their possessions were confiscated but then 'we found ourselves in the officers' mess, where the entire squadron shook our hands with the utmost solemnity, clicked heels, Heiled Hitler and gave us lunch! Another round of handshakes, our belongings were duly returned to us, and we Heiled Hitler gratefully ourselves as we took off'.

She was an early recruit to the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in 1940, starting on the 25th June as W.20 - the 20th woman employed by the ATA. (Ruth Cokayne also joined the ATA, as W.40, in April 1941).

They admitted that she 'flew very well indeed and was exceedingly keen', but pretty soon, she had her first accident. In November 1940, she landed a Fairey Battle and ran into an unmarked drainage ditch. The problem was, she wasn't cleared to fly the Battle at all, it being 'out of her class', and she was suspended for 5 days with loss of flying pay.

Her husband John was killed on active service in Gibraltar in 1941, and she then met and married an American, First Officer Edwin Dana Ballard, also of the ATA, in 1942.

Things were going better (for a while); in June 1942 she was considered a 'good steady pilot, handling the larger types of aircraft excellently'. However, she was actually demoted to Second Officer (for three months) in August 1942, for landing a Mustang in dangerously bad weather conditions.

She was suspended (again) for a week in February 1943, for taking off in a Spitfire with the hood open. Her instructor said she was 'a very high spirited officer who finds discipline somewhat irksome, and as a result is subject to occasional outbreaks. However, if handled with a little extra understanding & consideration these outbreaks are at no time serious or to the detriment of her work. As a pilot her keenness and desire to get work done are exceptional'.

The following month, March 1943, she taxied a Tiger Moth into an oil bowser, and was held responsible: 'taxying without due care'.

Nevertheless, in mid-1943 she was put on the conversion course to fly 4-engine (Class 5) aircraft; unfortunately, her training ws suspended after 3 days as 'it was considered that the Stirling was proving too much for her to tackle under emergency or adverse conditions.'

In 1944, another instructor (presumably less understanding & considerate than the previous one) agreed that she was 'an excellent pilot who works hard and efficiently' but 'her sense of discipline is poor and she is uncooperative and frequently obstructive'.

She tried again in May 1944 for Class 5 and this time was successful, eventually flying Halifaxes for a total of 9hrs, Lancasters 31hrs and Stirlings 5hrs. She was one of only 11 ATA women cleared to fly 4-engine aircraft.

She made it right through until 1945, but then pushed her luck too far. In January, she and Edwin were hauled before a disciplinary court for 'drinking during an unauthorised period in spite of a warning by a senior officer' and 'insubordination'.

The Court was inclined Not to overlook the offences. "After considering the evidence, and after hearing verbal evidence given by Commander Whitehurst and Captain Rome the Court reached the conclusion that the charges were fully substantiated, and after reviewing the record of both these officers, who as pilots have undoubtedly done a good job, the Court nevertheless came to the conclusion that their disciplinary record throughout, as disclosed by the History Cards, has left a great deal to be desired, despite repeated warnings, and that this incident is so bad as to warrant their instant dismissal".

She and Edwin were duly dismissed, on the 23rd January 1945. They moved to the USA, and had 2 more children.

She died in 2011; both hers and Edwin's log books are now in the Maidenhead ATA Heritage Centre.

One of the ATA Women

photo: 1928, aged 29

Mr Harrington Robley Law

Originally from Scotland; son of Bonar Law. In 1939 a member of the Insurance Flying Club.

Apparently he had a lisp, but was very able.

 

King's Cup in 1929, 1931

 

Mrs JMD Lawrence of Penshurst owned DH.60M Moth, G-AARD which was later sold abroad and re-registered EC-AFI

Constance Ruth Leathart in 1927, aged 24

b. 7 December 1903 in Low Fell, County Durham; known as 'Connie'.

"Five foot three and of generous proportions" (Lettice Curtis);

0370 0018a

[Check]

"a very experienced pre-war racing pilot and ... looked like George Robey" (Mary du Bunsen).

[I'm not so sure this is fair ... here's a picture of George Robey for comparison:

robey3

Hmmm...]

"One of the first 20 British women pilots to obtain the RAeC certificate"

[Amazing - as Connie got her certificate No. 8,085 in 1927, 14 years after the first woman pilot Hilda Hewlett - but true; she was only the 12th woman to get an RAeC certificate]

0031 0007a

l to r Edith Chalmers, Adelaide Cleaver, Sir Sefton Brancker, Rosalind Norman and Connie before the start of the 1930 Heston Spring Flying Cruise to Germany

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, with Leslie Runciman (q.v.), she ran Cramlington Aircraft, a company which repaired damaged aeroplanes. She also designed and flew her own glider.

0122 0009a

Leslie Runciman and Connie (centre)

She was educated at Cheltenham Ladies College, and then Ethelburgas School back in Newcastle. By 1939, her mother had moved to Ottery St Mary in Devon, but Connie was still in the north-east, at Morpeth in Northumberland.

In December 1939, aged 35, working in the map department at Bristol Airport, she applied to join the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). Her experience at the time was over 700 hours, making her one of the most experienced women pilots in the UK, so she started as soon as they could sort themselves out (Pauline Gower was only allowed to take on 8 women to begin with) ... which turned out to be August 1940. She was 'W.13' - the 13th woman pilot taken on by the ATA.

Mary du Bunsen says that "Connie hated to fly high, because she said it was further to fall ... she was reputed to make most of her approaches from below ground level if possible".

She ended up serving for nearly 4 years, her contract being terminated in June 1944.

Her initial report said that she 'flies well and although rather lacking in polish she is perfectly safe and has useful experience behind her'. In fact, her flying was always described as reliable and steady, and she was cleared for Class 4 (advanced twin-engined) aircraft from May 1942, and promoted to Flight Captain in March 1943. She had three accidents, none of which were her fault: in January 1942, the undercarriage of her Blackburn Skua collapsed; the following June, the tail wheel of her Wellington was bent after taxying over rough ground, and then on the 2nd December 1943 her Spitfire 1a X4244 tipped onto its nose after its port wheel sank into an unmarked hole.

Her health let her down after her third accident, it seems. Having only been off sick for a bout of tonsilitis in early 1941, followed by 'flu that December, she was then off sick continuously from 4th December 1943 until 10 June 1944. She returned and did a perfectly satisfactory Class 1 ("only") check, and was posted to 12 Ferry Pool 'for ferrying and maps and signals work' on the 13th. Her short time at 12 FPP went well, apparently; she was "most helpful" and showed great "knowledge of all departments", so they employed her as an Operations Officer.

It's clear that Connie wanted to stay on. She wrote to the ATA on the 17th June:

"Dear Captain Mead (HQ ATA),

Thank you for your posting notice but I believe you should have put "etc"; I find I am temporary adjutant as well, although we hope to get assistance from Ratcliffe on Monday.

Mrs Wilberforce now suggest I should stay on Operations during Miss Jeffery's leave, i.e. 8 weeks from the 27th June. As you know my contract expires on the 1st July and I wonder if you can possibly extend it, in some form, for another fortnight, after which, if there are any further suggestions for my future, I should come to White Waltham and talk to you about it.

I know this is not exactly the usual way to go about such things but I did Operations fairly often during my two years at Hamble and feel that, if I can be of further use here, the problem of how to pay me ought not to be insuperable. I like the work here and have already got in some flying so I do hope you can resolve whatever difficulties may crop up."

 The ATA refused, and wrote back on the 19th June:

"I am instructed to say that it is not possible to consider any extension of this officer's current flying agreement.

If she wishes to sign a new flying agreement, under which she would revert to the rank of Third Officer on her present flying classification, she may do so. Alternatively, an administrative contract is also available to her as an Assistant Operations and Maps and Signals Officer, with the rank of Second Officer (Admin) at a salary of £300 per annum, plus 15s 6d cost of living bonus. It is however understood that Miss Leathart is not desirous of accepting an operations post."

Obviously, Connie didn't fancy starting all over again as a Third Officer, either. So, eventually, she was grounded (they cancelled her insurance on the 30th June) and told to report to White Waltham and return her uniform and equipment on the 7th July.

So ended, on a rather downbeat note, Connie's wartime ATA career. Her log shows that she flew "Moth, Magister, Hart, Proctor, Harvard, Master, Oxford, Lysander, Anson, Battle, Dominie, Albacore, Fulmar, Gladiator, Hurricane, Spitfire, Swordfish, Walrus, Henley, Skua, Courier, Blenheim, Airacobra, Beaufighter, Fairchild, Hampden, Wellington, Whitley, Hudson, Albermarle, Auster, Beaufort, Envoy, Ventura, Barracuda, Boston, Mosquito, Manchester and Mitchell" aircraft - a total of nearly 800 hours.

Lettice Curtis says "Although she never became senior in the ATA she was definitely superior in experience and in later years her common sense, stability and lack of fear of her superiors, many of whom she had watched learn to fly, made her a valuable friend and adviser."

---

The Times wrote "She continued flying until 1958 when, reluctantly, she finally disposed of the last of her aeroplanes.

Connie Leathart remained a reserved, private person who shunned any form of publicity. In a sense this was a pity as many of her feats went unremarked. In retirement she farmed in Northumberland, where she bred Kyloe cattle [actually, it seems that "she did not breed Kyloe cattle; she did once have a couple of them, but both were bullocks"] and raised sheep. An accomplished horsewoman throughout her life, she continued into her fifties to ride regularly to hounds with the Morpeth and Tynedale hunts. She never married."

A friend of hers tells me: "I knew her for the last 20 years of her life, she was my parents' employer and my grandparents' before them. An amazing and eccentric and very kind lady."

Died 4 November 1993 in Northumberland, aged 89

...

and John G D 'Jack' Armour (q.v.), who was her first flying instructor in the ATA, was her cousin(!)

Connie owned

G EAIN 0025 0103 RAeC

the 1922 Sopwith Grasshopper (WO 2698, G-EAIN, the only one ever built, which she acquired in 1928),

a 1927 DH.60 Moth (G-EBRX, later PH-KLG),

a 1929 Westland Widgeon IIIa (WA1776, G-AAJF), and

a 1932 Comper Swift, G-ABUU.

One of the ATA Women

photo: 1926, aged 18

P/O (later F/O, Flt Lt) Haliburton Hume Leech

Haliburton H Leech was born 16th April 1908, in Wylam-on-Tyne, Northumberland. He competed in 6 King’s Cup races – every year from 1929 to 1934.

His father, Dr. (later Sir) Joseph William Leech, J. P., was the Sheriff of Newcastle-upon-Tyne, and later its M.P.; at the time they lived in Wylam Hall, which according to English Heritage is a vast “rambling house built in the 15th century with 18th-19th century alterations, since divided into 3 apartments”. Haliburton was the youngest of 3 sons.

He went to Harrow from 1922 to 1925, then gained his Royal Aero Club Certificate (No 7993) at Cramlington with the Newcastle-on-Tyne Aero Club, flying a D.H. Moth, on the 10th April 1926.

In 1931, Flight described him thus:

“… a well-known figure at flying meetings, as his aerobatic demonstrations in the Martlet are always amongst the prettiest to be seen.

He entered Cranwell as a cadet in 1925, finally leaving there and being posted to Tangmere in 1927.  

He was promoted to Flying Officer in July 1929, and in 1930 went to the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough, and has since been engaged on a great deal of test work, flying a large variety of machines.


 This year he was selected as one of the members to join the High Speed Flight at Felixstowe preparatory to receiving his training to take part in the forthcoming Schneider Trophy Race, but, much to his disappointment, he was later sent back to Farnborough, as it was found that there were too many pilots in the flight.

F/O. Leech has raced on numerous occasions in light aircraft, and is always consistent.”

 

However, during one such aerobatic demonstration, one cynic pointed out that "After all it does not matter if he does crash as his father is a doctor!”

 

In 1932, he piloted the Royal Aircraft Establishment’s Scarab (a parasol-wing modification of the D.H. 53 Humming Bird) on its first flight.

He was posted to the School of Naval Co-operation, Lee-on-the-Solent, on the 1st March 1934, then (as a Flight Lieutentant)  to No. 824 (F.S.R.) Squadron, Upavon, on the 8th October 1934.

Here he is (with a bandaged left hand) with Leslie Runciman, 'C.C', and Connie Leathart, amongst others

He was best man at his elder brother Basil's wedding to Grace Luckham in September 1937, then married Miss Ruth Janet Chernocke Elliott (the younger daughter of Mr and Mrs A E Elliott of Little Hill, Bromeswell, Woodbridge) at Eyke Church, Suffolk on 9th October 1937. The happy couple then left by air, from Martlesham, 'for abroad'.

He died 5th May 1939, in St Bartholomews Hospital, when he was only 31 - I don't know why, I'm afraid. Perhaps it was as a result of a flying accident, or perhaps natural causes. Unusually, 'Flight Magazine', who carried innumerable references to his flying displays, carried no news of his death - normally they would have produced a short obituary of someone so well-known in aviation circles.

His gravestone (with thanks to the Gravestone Photographic Resource) is in Eyke Church:

"To the beloved and wonderful memory of Haliburton Hume Leech".

His father, Sir Joseph, died a year later.

Ruth married a Mr Foster in 1940 and died in 1986 in Ipswich; she was referred to as 'Ruth Janet C Lady Foster'.



He competed in loads of air pageants and races throughout the 30s, including:

- The Kingston-upon-Hull Air Race, at the Hull Air Pageant  which was held to celebrate the opening of the Hull Aero Club clubhouse in April 1930.

The 7 entrants were Leech (flying "Miss Perry's D.H. Moth G-AASG" *); Winnie Brown flying her Avian G-EBVZ; Winifred Spooner in her D.H. Moth G-AALK; Ivor Thompson (D.H. Moth G-AACL); Alfred Jackaman (D.H. Moth G-AADX); Robert Cazalet in his Westland Widgeon G-EBRM, and Capt G Thorne in Avro Avian G-AAHJ.

Leech finished first but was disqualified for ‘not turning at one of the marks’.

mini - violet perry * Miss Violet Perry (seen here), who flew at the Berks Bucks and Oxon Club, is not listed as the owner of G-AASG, though; it apparently belonged to 'Miss M Shillington'.
September 25, 1932 saw him coming 3rd in the Yorkshire Trophy Race - "175 and a half miles over two triangular circuits" in the Arrow Active, behind Edgar Percival in a Gull, and Col. Louis Arbon Strange in his Spartan.
Later, "F/O. Leech gave one of his thrilling, if not hair-raising, displays on the Arrow Active."

 In July 1933 he was in the Cinque Ports Wakelfield Cup Race; coming 3rd in a Pobjoy-engined Comper Swift.

 
A few weeks later (12 August 1933), he put up the fastest time in the London to Newcastle Race in Richard Shuttleworth's Gypsy-engined Comper Swift G-ABWW, but ended up 5th (of 10) on handicap. He received a cheque for £10 for his effort; the 166.09 mph was "the highest registered speed obtained on any British light aircraft" at the time.

 

In July 1937, he was one of 15 competitors in the Devon Air Race (which also included Alex Henshaw, Connie Leathart, Tommy Rose and Geoffrey de Havilland). He came 3rd, in a Spartan Arrow.

In the King’s Cup

1 - G-EAUM (1929)

This aircraft was a real-old-timer, an Avro 534 ‘Baby’, first registered in July 1920. Squadron Leader Harold Payn had raced it in 1922, and R. A. Whitehead (who sold it to Leech) in 1928. Leech, in turn, sold the aircraft to H.R.A. Edwards, and it was finally withdrawn from use in November 1934.

2 - G-AALK (1930)

This D.H.60G Gipsy Moth was almost new (first registered August 1929), and belonged to the Household Brigade Flying Club at Hanworth. It was flown by Squadron Leader the Hon. Frederick E Guest in the 1931 race, then went to Wrightson Air Hire, but crashed at Shackend Railway Station near Hawick in April 1937.

3 - G-ABIF (1931)

This Southern Martlet 205 had only been registered in January 1931, and belonged to Miss J Forbes-Robinson. Theodore C Sanders flew it in the 1933 King’s Cup race. It was withdrawn from use in 1940, but went to the ATC during WWII, until it was finally cancelled in December 1945.

 

4 - G-ABVE (1932, 1933)

G-ABVE was the only Arrow Active II ever built, registered in March 1932 to Arrow Aircraft Ltd of Yeading, Leeds. Leech flew this aircraft in the 1932 and 1933 races, achieving 137mph.

In an extraordinary link with MacRobertson aviator Geoffrey Shaw, they were together in July, 1932:

"Six members joined the Yorkshire Aeroplane Club during June, amongst them being Mr. Geoffrey Shaw and Mr. A. C. Thornton. The latter is the designer of the" Arrow Active," and his latest production, the "Active II" has been much in evidence, being tested by F/O.H. H. Leech."

After the race, it was stored at Yeading until 1957 before being completely renovated in 1958, with the installation of a 145-hp Gipsy Major engine. It survives, and is now in the Real Aeroplane Collection at Breighton Aerodrome, Selby, Yorks.

5 - G-ACUP (1934)

Unfortunately, the registration of this brand-new Percival D.3 ‘Gull Six’ did not prove prophetic; Leech only managed fifth in the heats, despite averaging 160mph. The Gull went on to re-appear in the Kings’ Cup in 1938, flown by H Thomas-Ferrand, and was then sold in Australia in May 1939.

King's Cup in 1929, 1930, 1931, 1932, 1933, 1934

Mr J F Legard


King's Cup in 1932

photo: 1917, when 2nd Lieut in the RFC, aged 22

Flt-Lt Charles Frederick Le Poer Trench

Runner-up, best name in a King's Cup competition. An Australian who was a SPAD pilot in WWI; died in Sydney in 1974.

 

King's Cup in 1927, 1928, 1929

photo: 1931, aged 57

Brig-Gen Arthur Corrie Lewin

A retired officer, born in Edinburgh, living in Kenya. "I have no great opinion of the value of air-racing today. As a sport it is far behind, say, pig-sticking, steeplechasing or polo".

Address, c/o the Conservative Club, London.

Runner-up in his only King's Cup, though, at the age of 63; impressive.

Heading back to Kenya after the race, he and Mrs Lewin underwent a frightful ordeal; they spent 10 days on a tiny, mosquito-infested island in the Nile swamp after getting lost and making a forced landing. The Whitney Straight entangled its wheels in the grass and nosed over; they had to extricate themselves, to find that they only had a packet of sandwiches and a gallon of water between them, which they made to last for about 3 days.

Luckily they were spotted after 4 days by an Empire Flying boat ('Cassiopeia' - piloted, incidentally, by Rhinie Caspareuthus)

which dropped food supplies. The rescue was then organised by telephone from 150 miles away - "the distance of the nearest white man."

Mike Pease tells me that "My father knew him quite well in Kenya many years ago and I met with him on several occasions when I part-owned a Tiger Moth (VP-KDU). The old general caused a real stir when he crash landed in the Sud in Southern Sudan (my father was Commissioner of Police) which resulted in enormous expenditure to rescue him.

At Njoro, where we farmed, he once chopped off the head of a Kikuyu woman who was illegally crossing the airstrip on which he was coming in to land. The propeller on his plane causing the damage! "

Mike Blake added this: "His first a/c, at least a/c with Kenyan connections was DH 60GIII Moth VP-KAU. Next he owned Miles M.2F Hawk Major VP-KBL which was written off at Tilesford Aerodrome Pershore 19 Aug 1935. His second Hawk Major was VP-KBT which was sold in New Zealand as ZK-AFJ. [He also briefly operated DH 80 Puss Moth VP-KCO but this was impressed at the outbreak of WWII.]

The Whitney Straight which came to grief in the Sudan was G-AEZO."
 
Mike also reckons that Mike's Tiger Moth VP-KDU was "more likely VP-KDR which was owned by the General after the War. KDU was a Piper Pacer, in fact the first Piper a/c to appear on the Kenya register."
 
 
'Flight' reported his death in 1952: "We regret to hear of the death, in Nairobi last week, of Brigadier-General A. C. Lewin, C.B., C.M.G., D.S.O., at the age of 78. Known as the "flying general," he took up private flying on retirement from a distinguished military career. He was runner-up in the 1937 King's Cup Air Race, and as recently as this year he won the East African Aerial Derby.

 

Born in July 1874, Arthur Corrie Lewin was educated at Cheltenham and Trinity Hall, Cambridge. He entered the King's Regiment in 1895, served with the Mounted Infantry in South Africa from 1899 to 1902, and joined the 19th Hussars in 1905. He served throughout the 1914-18 war, and was A.D.C. to H.M. the King from 1918 to 1941. In 1931 he learned to fly, at the age of 57, and in the same year flew solo from Britain to Kenya, after only 50 hours' solo. Since then he had owned ten personal aircraft and had flown over 2,500 hours as a private pilot. He flew between Kenya and Britain several times; on one such flight, in 1937, he and his wife were marooned for ten days in a Sudan swamp where his aircraft had force-landed; they were rescued by Dinka tribesmen. In the same year he came second in the King's Cup Air Race, and was also appointed an honorary air commodore, R.A.F.V.R.

During the Second World War he flew as Sub-Area Commander and later as Welfare Officer with the R.A.F. East African Command. On March 2nd of this year, flying a Tiger Moth, General Lewin won the Aerial Derby, main event in the Aero Club of East Africa's Air Rally, and was presented with the East African Standard Cup. A recent and well-deserved award, that of the Royal Aero Club's Bronze Medal, was made in recognition of the General's 'outstanding record of private flying.'"

 

King's Cup in 1937

photo: 1930, aged 34

Mr Laurence Lipton

an engineer, from London

Competed in 1933 and 1934 in G-ABVW 'Jason 4', the D.H. Moth he bought from Amy Johnson.

 

King's Cup in 1933, 1934, 1935

 

photo: 1932, aged 28

photo: 1936, aged 32

F/O David W Llewellyn

b. 9th August 1904 in Wichelsea, E Sussex; son of the President of the Royal Academy.

An instructor at Hanworth.

With Mrs Jill Wyndham, broke the Cape Town-England record in 1935 (6 days 12hr 7min). [I say, who is this Mrs Jill Wyndham, and did Mr Wyndham know about this? *]

Apparently, they had intended also to lower the record for the outward trip. "... they were going strongly, but their chances were ruined by a forced landing in an African rice field. The aircraft was set down by the light of lamps carried by an Arab funeral procession."

He had also flown solo in a "little Aeronca" to Johannesburg, and here he is, in it:

DW Llewellyn in his Aeronca

[To be more precise, in the 23 days between the 7th February and 1st March 1936, he flew from Hanworth to Rand Airport, Johannesburg, to deliver the machine to a private buyer. The 2-cylinder engine of an Aeronca produced 40hp.]

 

Killed 21 September 1938 in an accident in a BA Swallow.

 

[ *It seems that Doris Jillian Wyndham

b. 11 May 1911,

was a former pupil of Mr Llewellyn. Or possibly of Tom Campbell Black, if we are to believe Harald Penrose.

Her son tells me that "she died in 1963 at the age of 52. Lt Cdr Wyndham did know about the record attempt!"]

 

Schlesinger Race in 1936

photo: 1916, aged 24

Flt-Lt (later Sqn-Ldr) Walter Hunt Longton

'Scruffie' Longton, from Lancashire. 11 victories in WWI flying SE5s; DFC and bar.

Well known pre-war motor-cycling, and post-war aeroplane racer; whilst practising for the Bournemouth Air Meeting in April 1927, his aeroplane was hit by "one or two charges of shot from a sporting gun", possibly in protest at flying races on a Good Friday. A reward of £25 was offered for the detection of the culprit.

He was killed soon after - June 1927 - in a mid-air collision at the Bournemouth Whitsun Meeting, flying the prototype Bluebird.

"Every aircraft constructor knew that 'Longton's opinion' was worth having on anything new." C G Grey

 

King's Cup in 1922, 1923, 1925

George Lowdell

Wing Cmdr George Edward Lowdell AFM

Flying instructor at RAF Digby in 1925 (he taught Allen Wheeler to fly, who said of him "How lucky I was with my instructor George Lowdell! Apart from being a magnificent pilot he was the most inspiring teacher").

Instructor with Suffolk and Eastern Counties Aero Club in 1928; later a Wing Commander, and instructor with Shoreham School of Flying.

However, in 1932 he was convicted of drunk-driving:

"STUNT FLIER FINED

CLACTON CARNIVAL SEQUEL

George Edward Lowdell, 29, an airman instructor, of Belvedere Road, Ipswich, was charged at Colchester on Friday with being drunk in charge of a motor car.

Stanley Elgar, postmaster of Colchester, stated that he was driving his car from Walton-on-the-Naze to Colchester, and just after he had left Weeley he noticed a Morris car in front of him " performing a rather peculiar course all over the road, swerving frequently from the near side to the off.

Several times it mounted the margin of the road, and on one occasion two young ladies had to " skip " quickly out of the way. The speed was never excessive. Near Greenstead Rectory the car was pulled up, and witness went to the driver and said: "Do you realise what you have been doing? You have only just escaped death, and narrowly missed killing other people." Defendant seemed dazed, and when told that he could not go on he said he would have to go on, he had to get to Brooklands tnat night.

Two police-officers came, and defendant was arrested. Replying to Mr. Frampton, witness said the driver did not give him the impression that he was a very tired man. , Arthur Houston, commercial traveller, Thorpe Road, Tendring, who was proceeding in the direction of Colchester, said defendant's car was '' all over the place."

When charged, defendant's reply was so muddled that he could not be understood. Dr. William F. Payne said he came to the conclusion that defendant was drunk. Defendant said he had had some whisky and beer.

 Defendant, in the witness-box, said he was formerly chief instructor to the Suffolk Aero Club, and was now instructor at Brooklands. He had been giving a demonstration at Clacton. He flew to Clacton, and during the day gave exhibitions of trick flying and joy rides. In the morning there was an accident, and he was up in the air longer than usual at upside down flying in order to amuse the crowd. During the day he had nothing alcoholic to drink, but after he had finished flying at 6.30 p.m. he had five beers. He had had nothing to eat since luncheon, and left Clacton at 8 p.m. After a heavy day he felt queer when in the car, and kept dozing.

When he arrived at the police - station he felt 'dead tired," and his whole condition he put down to continuous flying, to having no food, and to the heat of the day.

Edwin Freshfield, an undergraduate, and a pupil of defendant, said the stunt flying defendant did that day imposed a great strain. When defendant left Clacton he was very tired, but not drunk. Mr. Frampton submitted that defendant's condition was due to absolute fatigue.

The Chairman (Mr. C. M. Stanford) said the Bench were unanimous in finding the case proved. W hile it might have been only an indiscretion, they had to take serious notice of it, and defendant would be fined £5, with £2/5/9 costs. The Bench appreciated the action of those witnesses who had come forward at their own expense and loss of time to protect the public, and to save the defendant himself from further danger. "

 

King's Cup in 1932, 1933, 1934

  photo: 1932, aged 21

Mr Stanley Thomas Lowe OBE

b. 15 Mar 1911 in London; "5ft 10ins, build: medium, eyes: hazel".

Father: William Thomas Lowe. Educated at Seaford College, Sussex.

A salesman in 1932, when 'Flight' said he was 'in the wholesale fish business' (in fact, he worked for Mac Fisheries Ltd).

For the 1938 King's Cup Race, (in which he came 9th out of 19), 'Flight' described him thus: "He has been a consistent competitor in air races, though last year - when he had the bad luck to retire at Glasgow in the eliminating contest - was his first King's Cup race. He won the 1937 Manx Air Derby. He lives at Twickenham, Middlesex, and plays golf and Rugby football."

  stanley lowe 1936 Flight

He also won the 1936 Portsmouth - Shoreham - Portsmouth race, averaging 126mph, in his Comper Swift (presumably the very lovely G-ABWE, although he later owned the Gipsy-engined [and therefore plug-ugly, imho] 'WW'):

 

   G ABWW AJJ

He modified 'WW in 1938 to have a hinged racing windscreen and a fairing between the wing bracing struts, which are visible here. Them fairings must have made the visibility even worse...

He married Enid Eileen Thirlwell in 1939, and they had a daughter in 1943.

Stanley joined the Air Transport Auxiliary early in WWII (in April 1940, as 'Male Pilot No 46') and was very successful, rising through the ranks to become a Commander by March 1945 and only leaving in November 1945, when the ATA ws disbanded. His recommendation for promotion in February 1945 reads like the appraisal I never got, praising his "excellent quality of leadership, occupational ability, punctuality, attendance, general conduct and discipline".

In over 5 years he flew 41 types of aeroplane, up to and including all 4-engine types, without any serious incident. His instructors reported him to be 'a competent pilot, obliging, efficient, considerate of his brother officers, and attentive of his duties'... 'recent operations to the Continent indicate his ability to command, organise and improvise. As a pilot he sets an excellent example"... (I could go on, but I think we can agree that he deserved his O.B.E., awarded in the New Years Honours List of 1946).

 d. 1993; Enid d. 2002.

King's Cup in 1937, 1938

Princess Alice Lowenstein Wertheim

Princess Alice of Lowenstein-Wertheim owned the 1927 Fokker F.VIIa, G-EBTQ 'St Raphael' which was lost over the Atlantic in August 1927.

 

Latest Articles

They Flew Together

c elsie mackayc wgr hinchliffe

Fourteen extraordinary teams - including a lion - that made the world smaller, in Aviation’s Golden Age between the Wars.

Read More ...

The Pilots of Imperial Airways

imperial-airways-poster-3

Imperial Airways came about in 1924, and they ploughed their stately (but, generally, fairly safe) furrow until the outbreak of WWII. Their pilots were amongst the best in the world.

Read More ...

O! dem Golden Age Spitfire Women

Lettice Jennie Audrey Gabrielle Pauline

Admittedly, there has been A Awful Lot of Stuff published recently about the 'forgotten' women pilots of the Air Transport Auxiliary, and I suppose the world may not be agog for yet more about them.

However, with new information gleaned from the ATA and Royal Aero Club files, I have put together a database and gallery featuring these splendid ladies (especially the ones who flew before WWII) - much of it Never Seen Before In Public!

Read More ...

Cobham's Flying Circus

Sir Alan Cobham reckoned that three-quarters of the boys who wanted to get into the RAF in 1938 and 1939 said they did so because they paid five or ten shillings for a flight with his 'Flying Circus'.

Organising hundreds of compex displays all over the country for four years must have been a logistical nightmare, and it was not without its distressing accidents, but - at least to some extent - the nation became 'air-minded'...

Read More ...

Owen Cathcart-Jones revisited

It's difficult to know what to make of Owen Cathcart-Jones, really; he was certainly handsome, adventurous, undoubtedly talented, clearly an excellent aviator - but, I'm afraid, rather prone to go 'AWOL' - both in his personal and service life!

Read More ...

website security