A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

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Clyde Edward Pangborn

Born 28th October, 1895

Died 29th March, 1958, aged 62

MacRobertson Race in 1934

Raymond John Paul Parer

 

b. 18 February 1894, in Melbourne, the second of seven sons. Joined the RFC during WWI, but a medical officer had insisted that Ray's heart 'was not strong' and he wasn't allowed to fly above 10,000 ft.

The only person to compete in the Air Races from England to Australia in both 1919 and 1934. For the 1919 Race, he and John Cowie Macintosh persuaded Scottish millionaire distiller Peter Dawson to give them the money for an aeroplane, but only dared ask enough for an F.E.2b (although they would have preferred a DH.9). When Mr Dawson heard this, he scolded them and gave them another cheque. Battling their way through delays, innumerable forced landings and hair-raising exploits, they finally arrived nearly 8 months later, skint and with empty fuel tanks, only the second crew ever to make the journey.

In 1927, when the New Guinea Gold Rush began, he shipped a DH.4 there and set up the Bulolo Goldfields Aeroplane Service.

Tried to enlist in the RAAF in 1941, but was deemed too old and joined the Merchant Navy instead.

He was 'by nature shy and retiring' but clearly, never gave up - hence his nickname 'Battling'. Spent the last 20 years of his life farming near Brisbane, and died there 5th July 1967, aged 73.

England-Australia in 1919

MacRobertson Race in 1934

photo: 1929, aged 27

Mr Ian Robertson Parker

a Sugar Planter and Merchant from Liverpool; RAF Wing Commander in WWII (Digby Section in 1940); Group Captain AAF from 1946; died 1959 and is buried on the Isle of Wee Cumbrae, Ayrshire, Scotland

 

King's Cup in 1930

photo: 1932, aged 21

Mr Victor George Parker

an Aircraft Engineer from Hertfordshire (another one!)

 

King's Cup in 1934

Koene Dirk Parmentier

 

b. 26 September 1904 in Amsterdam

Trained in the Dutch Air Force, and one of the first Dutch pilots to qualify for a navigator's licence, he joined K.L.M. in 1929 and flew on its mail routes, chiefly as commander of Amsterdam-Batavia liners. In 1933 he spent four months in America, nightflying over various routes and studying their operation. Died 20th October 1948, aged 44, when the K.L.M. Constellation airliner he was piloting on a flight from Amsterdam to New York crashed and burst into flames on a farm near Tarbolton, Ayrshire near Prestwick Airport.

MacRobertson Race in 1934

joan parsons 1933

1933

Joan Mary Parsons

I think all we need to know about Joan is summed up here (from the Yorkshire Post, 8 November 1943):

"AIRWOMAN FINED FOR QUITTING JOB

Complaint About Workmate "Exaggerated"

 Joan Parsons, who made a name for herself 1938 by flying solo to the Cape [actually, she had to be rescued after a forced landing], was fined £5 to-day at Leamington, Warwickshlre, for falling to comply with a Ministry of National Service direction to work in an aircraft factory. Mr. W. A. Coleman, prosecuting, said that after being at a bench for two days Miss Parsons wrote to the firm complaining that she had been molested by a labourer, who repeatedly jabbed her under the arm. This so played on her nerves that she could not continue, and she left, declining to return for fear of further aggression.

''Of African Fame"

The letter was signed, "Joan Parsons, Leamington's airwoman of African fame." The complaint was grossly exaggerated, said Mr. Coleman. The labourer was a reputable workman, who thought he was encouraging the defendant by a playful act. Gilbert Stackhouse, shop foreman, said the labourer just touched Miss Parsons on the shoulder and said: "It won't be long now." 'I knew what he meant, but she didn't." added witness. "I told her that the man was trying to keep her happy, and instructed him not to go anywhere near her again."

The "Rough Man"

In evidence Miss Parsons said her father was a clergyman. The "rough man" who irritated her wanted to tickle other girl employees. The man leered in her face and was very objectionable. She kept away from the factory because she feared an act of revenge. Mr. Coleman: But surely you have had some experience of the world and meeting people? Miss Parsons: Yes. I have been treated very well abroad, and natives in territories on which I have had forced landings in Africa have looked on me as a goddess”.

 Mr. Overall, defending, said it was not everybody who reacted favourably to being jabbed the ribs every two or three minutes."

One of the ATA Women

in 1911, aged 20

1935

Mr Cecil Lawrence Pashley

An early pioneer (RAeC certificate No 106) and well-known instructor of large numbers of airmen including F G Miles; born 1891 in Great Yarmouth but lived in Shoreham (a road there, and a bus are named after him, it seems, plus a Tiger Moth called 'Spirit of Pashley').

He and his brother started a flying school at the newly-opened Shoreham Aerodrome in 1914, but obviously WWI intervened almost straight away and he became a test pilot for the Admiralty, then flew for Central Aircraft Co in Northolt after the war.

He and F G Miles set up Southern Aircraft Ltd (best known for the 'Martlet').

Chief Instructor to the Southern Aero Club and its successor the South Coast Flying Club.

 

d. 1969

 

King's Cup in 1932

photo: 1934, aged 29

mini - g patterson(2)

Mrs Gabrielle Ruth Millicent Patterson

gabrielle patterson signature

Miss Burr as was, a lady with her own opinions, particularly about race handicapping, which you can read here.

b. 6th July 1905 in Paddington, London, the eldest of four daughters; grew up in Dover, Kent, but her father was a rather peripatetic amateur entomologist and she was educated all over Europe.

Was very busy in 1931; described as a 'secretary' [actually, she was the Company Secretary of her mother's family firm of upmarket china and glassware merchants, Thos Goode & Sons], and living in Maida Vale, London, acquired both her aviator's 'A' Certificate (No 9752), and her husband, Mr Arthur L 'Pat' Patterson. At the same time, she also competed in the Ladies event at Reading (May, 1931) - the other competitors were Amy Johnson, Grace Aitken, Pauline Gower, Dorothy Spicer, Susan Slade, Winifred Spooner, Christina Young, and Fidelia Crossley - a historic gathering indeed.

Her son, Ian, was born in 1932 in Eton, Oxfordshire, but Gabrielle and Pat divorced in 1939.

In 1938, she wrote an article on the subject 'Would women make good instructors in the event of war'. She, of course, was already a successful instructor, although admittedly her experience was limited, because "a man who is paying for his flying, and whose average age is probably a little greater on that account, is more amenable to reason than the youngster of eighteen to twenty, with his wild oats still unsown."

She thought that women instructors would probably cope, though; "The instructor always starts with the advantage of his pupil's spontaneous respect for a (relative) master of his subject, coupled with a very natural wish to shine. The woman instructor has the added advantage that this respect is enhanced by her supposed greater difficulties in acquiring that (relative) mastery and with the instinctive desire of the male to impress the female. By tactfully and subtly indicating the conduct in the air and on the ground which does win her confidence and does impress her, she can obtain it in nine cases out of ten, and in the face of such a proportion she could certainly count on disciplinary measures for the tenth."

But she worried whether there would actually be enough women to become instructors; her experience was that women didn't make such good puplis as men. "It is arguable that since of good men pilots only a few make good instructors, amongst women (where the number of good pilots is a lower percentage of pupils) the quantity of good instructors would be so small that there could be no justification for spending public funds in discovering them."

The reason for this, she thought, was that "women pilots hitherto have consisted only of those with large enough bank balances".

Flight reported her activities at the time: 

19 May 1938: "ROMFORD. Miss Amy Johnson visited the Romford Flying Club last Sunday to present a flag and charter to the National Women's Air Reserve which operates there. There are 125 members of the Reserve, taking flying instruction with Mrs. G. M. Patterson."


15 June, 1939: "Mrs. G. Patterson's G.A.P.A.N. Appointment. All who have come into contact with her will wish to congratulate Mrs. Gabrielle Patterson on her appointment to the Panel of the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators. This is the first time that a woman has received the appointment.

Mrs. Patterson has been a flying instructor for some years and is now leader of the National Women's Air Reserve, the organisation which has been putting in a good deal of flying —and securing no little amount of newspaper publicity—at Maylands Aerodrome, Romford. Mrs. Patterson herself, it may be added, has always shunned any sort of personal publicity.

She is, we believe, a first-rate pilot and an extremely capable instructor."


She was living in Bristol, aged 34, with about 1,530 hours experience when WWII broke out in September 1939; her son was at Prep. School.

She filled in the application form for the ATA that December; her 'types flown' at the time consisted of "Moth Major, Tigers, Avro Cadet, Avian, Cygnet, Hornet Moths, Cirrus I, II and III Moths, Gypsy Moths, Spartans, Puss and Leopard Moths, Klemm, Swallow, Civilian Coupe, Miles Hawk and Hawk Major, and Miles Whitney Straight" and she had owned "a Miles Whitney Straight, a Puss Moth, 2 Gypsy Moths, and 2 Swallows (Only 1 any good)". As well as in the UK, she had flown in Germany, Belgium, Holland and France.

She gave her next of kin as Arthur Patterson RNVR.

She started as one of the 'First Eight' highly-experienced women pilots at Hatfield the following month. After a while ferrying trainers at No 5 Ferry Pool, she had to learn to fly new types. Her instructors duly reported that she was "a good and very experienced pilot", and she was "keenly aware of her own limits , which I feel is an excellent feature of her character. Has the makings of a first-class ferry pilot."... "A polished pilot whose capabilities are limited by her physique. In view of her undoubted ability and experience I regard her as somewhat under-confident."

She had 2 accidents; in December 1940, flying a Rapide X7322, (she was deemed to be 'at fault') and in May 1942, when the undercarriage of Spitfre Vc BP863 jammed in the 'up' position (she was 'not to blame').

During her time with the ATA, she flew these types:

Moth (155 hrs); Miles Master (35 hrs); Oxford (105 hrs); Proctor (8 hrs); Hart (1 hr); Dominie (25 hrs); Magister (6 hrs); Harvard (8 hrs); Q.6 (1 hr); Lysander (6 hrs); DH86 (1 hr); Anson (42 hrs); Hurricane (26 hrs); Rapide (2 hrs); Spitfire (33 hrs); Blenheim (21 hrs); Douglas variants (1 hr); Defiant (1 hr); Fairchild (26 hrs); Hampden (3 hrs); Wellington (26 hrs); Hudson (6 hrs); Tutor (1 hr); Botha (3 hrs); Stinson (2 hrs); Whitley (1 hr); Beaufighter (2 hrs); Mosquito (2 hrs); Swordfish (4 hrs) and Typhoon (1 hr).

Lettice Jennie Audrey Gabrielle Pauline 

Lettice, Jennie, Audrey, Gaby, Pauline and Annie

However, her 'physique' (she actually wasn't very tall, even though I think she might be sitting down in this photo) also let her down in other ways; she was off sick with measles for a month in Apr-May 1941, then 2 weeks in March 1942 with an infected elbow, then a month (Oct-Nov 1942), and finally (in Feb-Mar 1943) another month with 'bronchial cattarh'. Her contract was terminated in June and she left the ATA as a First Officer [which I always find surprising; she was never promoted to 'Flight Captain'].

She died relatively young, sadly; having completed a degree at Manchester University in the 50s, she moved to France but fell ill with cancer, moved back to Little Missenden, Bucks, to live with her sister, but died there on 31st October 1968, aged 63.

 

King's Cup in 1934

One of the ATA Women

photo: 1916, when a Lieutenant in the Royal Engineers, aged 29

Sqn-Ldr Harold James Payn

test pilot for the Air Ministry; AFC 1923

 

King's Cup in 1922, 1924, 1927

Harald Peake

b. 28 Oct 1899 in Yorkshire, a "Director of Limited Companies"

Air Commodore  (later Sir) Harald Peake, post-WWII Director of RAF public relations and later chairman of Lloyds Bank and the Steel Company of Wales.

Harald only got his aviator's certificate on the 28th April 1930 (after returning from this tour), so that, perhaps, explains why he took along RLR Atcherley, probably one of the most famous and experienced aviators of the time, to help him fly his new plane!

His wife, Felicity, was the founding director of the Women's Royal Air Force.

d. 1978

Aerial Tour in 1930

Capt G A Pennington

King's Cup in 1930

photo: 1930, aged 32

Capt Edgar Wikner Percival

Australian aeronautical genius who ended up in the USA and New Zealand, via Luton.

b. 23 Feb 1897 in Albury, N.S.W. In 1915, while training in England, he became only the third person on record to recover from a spin (supposedly, Fred Raynham [q.v.] was the first). He later wrote: "After that I found that spinning was great fun and spun a Bristol Scout the next day. Very much later, on the Western Front, I found a spin was a very speedy way of dropping on the enemy - especially through a handy cloud."

Designer, and pilot, of some of the finest racing and record-breaking aeroplanes of all time.

"He always flies his rakish Mew Gulls in a soft felt hat and tries to look as much unlike an intrepid birdman as possible, though he has never yet deceived the handicappers by this ruse." 

King's Cup 1934; sans trilby, for once

Flight said he "has an uncanny navigational sense in thick weather, but sometimes flies pensively past his destination in 100-mile visibility".

Michael Madigan wrote: "It was very difficult to resist his puckish humour and not to fall under his spell... In his early flying days he had a fox-terrier called Ginger Mick. This dog always sat in the [open] rear cockpit tethered to a spar. One day as Edgar was preparing to land he went into a loop to lose height, forgetting about his passenger. After levelling off he heard strange scrabbling noises from the back and looking out saw Ginger Mick frantically dog-paddling in the air suspended by his lead. Edgar managed to manoevre Ginger back into the plane, and after landing he thought he would never see Ginger Mick again as he rushed off, but Ginger was as persistent an aviator as his master and reappeared, to settle in his place at start-up, large as life, and eager for more."

 

In 1956, with the EP.9 'Prospector'. And trilby.

d. 21 Jan 1984; his ashes were taken by the RAAF "to be scattered in the very field in Richmond, N.S.,W., where it all began."

"Edgar Percival had a strong character, a high mental and moral sense, and was a perfectionist - the qualities which made him successful. He was the dominant presence which compelled attention in a group. This dominance arose from his vast knowledge of aviation in all its aspects ... all this and his strength of will did not make him an easy associate. He could see problems clearly, had the energy to solve them, and drove himself relentlessly, which made him rather intolerant of those less gifted."

(All quotes via Martin Barraclough, for which many thanks)

King's Cup in 1928, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937, 1938

(Walter) Robert Dempster Perkins

b 3 Jun 1903 in Boldre, Hampshire, an Engineer

Sir Robert Perkins; went to Eton and then Trinity College, Cambridge.

Director of Messrs Roy Dempster, Manchester. He had "a wide circle of personal friends (which included Lyndsey Everard MP), and ... [was] a keen politician". He was, in fact, in charge of the erection of a large gasholder near Heston Airport in 1933.

Became a Conservative MP (for Stroud 1931-1945) and was instrumental in the setting up of the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) in the late 30s.

Parlimentary Secretary to the Ministry of Civil Aviation during WWII; in October 1944, he married Nigel Norman's widow Patricia, in Westminster Cathedral.

MP for Stroud again from 1950-55. Knighted in 1954.

In 1954, following the accidents to the DH Comet airliner, he handed in a motion to the House of Commons stating "That this House will regret the proposal of BOAC to buy American airliners". He urged them to buy Britannias instead...

Subsequently Charirman of Southern Newspapers, and a director of Southern Television.

d. Dec 1988 in Salisbury, Wilts.

Aerial Tour in 1930

 

photo: 1915, when a Sergeant in the RFC, aged 23

photo: 1922, aged 30

Capt Herbert Howard Perry

born in Birmingham; test pilot for the Aircraft Disposals Company in the 20s; joined Imperial Airways; a member of the Court of the Guild of Airline Pilots and Navigators in the 30s

 

King's Cup in 1922, 1923, 1925, 1926

 

Capt Percival Phillips

ST. AUSTELL PILOT HURT 'Plane Crash In Hospital Grounds CRITICAL STATE THIS MORNING PERCIVAL PHILLIPS, M.C, St. Austell, was seriously injured when a two-seater aeroplane which was piloting, making forced landing in the dark, crashed into the grounds of Springfield Mental Hospital. Lower Tooting, London, S.W., last night.

He was first taken to the Springfield Hospital, but was later transferred St. James Hospital, Balham, where it was stated early this morning that was a critical condition, with a fractured skull, a broken nose, broken leg, and other injuries.

His passenger, Mr. James Edward Fry, of Gloucester-terrace, who received injuries to tbe left eye and nose, and was also transferred to the Balham Hospital, was later able take his discharge. The machine, which was owned by Air Services, of Croydon, and was making a flight round London when the mishap occurred, was slightly damaged.

WAR SERVICE R.A.F. Capt. Percival Phillips, whose London address was given the Aerodrome Hotel, Croydon, lives in St. Austell. During the war he served as a pilot in the Royal Air Force. Coming down the Turkish lines in Mesopotamia, he was taken prisoner.

He is partner in the motor firm Messrs. Hill and Phillips, of St. Austell, and is senior partner in the firm of Cornwall Aviation Company, whose headquarters are at St. Austell. He has been one of tbe pilots in Sir Alan Cobham's Flying circus, and his acrobatic stunts in the air will be  remembered by many from the West country who visited the circus. His wife last night informed Western Morning News representative that she had intimation of the accident from London. Mrs. Phillips is the elder daughter of Mr. H. Rowse, of the firm of St. Auslell auctioneers. There are two young children."

photo: 1928, aged 32

Mr Charles Edward Murray Pickthorn

a 'Dealer' from London; WWI ace (5 victories, one shared with James Robb). Attempted an England-Australia flight in 1930 with F/O. C. J. Chabot on a D.H. "Puss Moth"; left Croydon October 6, but abandoned the flight in Karachi on October 13.

died 1938

 

King's Cup in 1930

photo: 1922

Mr M W Piercey

Later (1924) to fly the Beardmore 'Wee Bee' in the Lympne light aircraft trials; although he suffered engine failure only 2 miles from the finish, he won the £2,000 prize for a speed run.


King's Cup in 1922

photo: 1918, aged 20

photo: 1937, aged 39

Mr Harold Lord Piper

'Pip', another Kiwi; originally a farmer. He and Cyril Kay flew a Desoutter from England to Australia in 1930; later chief test pilot for Shorts, until 1948.

"Apart from flying, Pip's other passions in life are duck shooting, guns and boats."

died 1965

nav more

King's Cup in 1937

honor pitman salmon

1936

honor pitman ata

ATA

Honor Isabel Pitman

b. 30 Oct 1912 in London; father Ernest, mother Frances Isabel (Butler), who was Irish. She was an heir to the Pitman (of shorthand fame) family fortune.

Honor learnt to fly originally in 1927 (at the age of 14) at the Bristol and Wessex Aero Club but "because of my age, I always had to fly with someone & could never go to other aerodromes to land." Eventually, in 1936, she passed her RAeC Certificate and had done 120 hours before the start of WWII. She was in Australia in 1938, and then started as a driver in the 12th Oxford Motor Transport ATS on the 1st September 1939; however, when she heard that the ATA was on the lookout for people with flying experience, she wrote to them in March 1940:

"I would very much like to know if there is the possibility of my joining your section of the service? I am an 'A' pilot & have only done about 120hrs flying in small club planes - Swallows, Cadets and Aroncas, but I am prepared to take any training in any line if I could help you. 4 years ago I joined the FANYs [which I gather stands for First Aid Nursing Yeomanry] in hopes of a flying section being started, but this never materialized.... I had been hoping on my return from Australia last year to have my own plane & work for my 'B' licence but instead I have had to content myself with reading text books."

The ATS, by the sound of it, didn't want to release her, and in December 1940 she asked the ATA to "please write to my Group Commander so that she can have a letter to show the 'powers that be' that the work I am asking to transfer to will be more important than the work I am doing at this present".

Eventually she was invited to do a flight test, which she passed, although the assessment was that she lacked experience and would need to be carefully supervised during her development. She enjoyed the experience, though: "Monday was a wonderful break to this humdrum war life for me, I thought everyone was so kind."

However, as there were no vacancies at the time for less experienced pilots, she was placed on a waiting list. She wrote: "I am of course very disappointed to hear you now cannot take me, but I am still bouyed up hoping one day you may call me up. In the mean time, I have a very interesting job and am trying to persuade myself that I am lucky."

 She started her probationary month with the ATA in March 1941, and became Mrs Pomeroy Salmon in June.

Honor Pitman 1941 via Andrew Heron

Her subsequent flying career was not, I'm afraid, a great success - in retrospect, it would perhaps have been kinder for her to have been stood down from flying. As it was, she suffered two accidents in two days; firstly, on the 5th March 1942, she taxied a Spitfire into an unmarked soft patch, then on the 6th the starboard undercarriage of a Hurricane collapsed.

These events left her in what was called in those days a 'very highly strung condition', and she was given a month's rest, and then a refresher course.

The instructor's report was ambivalent: "This pilot needed a refresher and has benefitted by being returned to school. Her chief fault is her attitude towards her job. If she can be persuaded that flying is, after all, a very ordinary occupation, with common sense the main ingredient and that an ordinary sensible woman makes a better ferry pilot than a temperamental prima donna, she will do better and inspire greater confidence."

Unfortunately her subsequent reports, whilst allowing that she did improve generally, were hardly any better: "An unstable type. She admits she gets into a flap flying with an instructor, and claims she has no difficulty in navigating solo. Apparently tends to rely on Bradshawing [i.e. following railway lines] so I did not destroy her confidence in that, but showed her more polished methods."... "Very self-important at times" ... "This pilot occasionally flies well - but not so well as she thinks she does. Her progress will need very careful watching".

She had another mishap, on the 26th August;  she overran the perimeter of the runway in a Spitfire and nosed over in a heap of rubble, damaging the propeller. She was, however, deemed "Not responsible, as she had to swerve to avoid an Oxford landing"; lack of aerodrome control was blamed.

But still the worrying comments from her instructors kept coming: "She is not very bright when any difficulty arises. She is definitely very over-confident, and also lost herself on one occasion"... "this pilot has taken a long time to reach an average standard. Has worked hard and been very attentive, but should be watched carefully"..."Her greatest trouble now is her forgetfullness. Her flying is satisfactory but she is apt to forget things"

Again with hindsight, you have to wonder why the warning signs were ignored and she was allowed to carry on flying; perhaps it was because everyone seems to have liked her.

Eventually, what now seems inevitable happened; on the 19 April 1943 she flew on in bad weather instead of turning back, and was killed when her Airspeed Oxford MN765 hit high ground near Devizes.

airspeed oxford

She was the only ATA woman casualty who was deemed to be 'at fault' for her fatal accident.

pitman memorial plaque in St Peters Church Memorial in St Peter's Church, Dyrham (with thanks to Andrew Heron)

Western Daily Press, 24 Apr 1943: "The death of First Officer Honor Isabel Pomeroy Salmon (30), of the Air Transport Auxiliary, is announced. Daughter of and Mrs Ernest Pitman, of The Cottage, Dyrham, Glos., and the grand-daughter of the late Sir Isaac Pitman, of Pitman's shorthand, she attended school at Abbot's Hill and at Westonbirt School, near Tetbury. and at the age of 17 became a member of the Bristol Flying Club, taking her licence and becoming a keen pilot. She was a keen breeder and trainer of ponies, and frequently hunted with the Duke of Beaufort's pack and took part in point-to-point meetings. In June, 1941, she married Major H. Pomeroy Salmon, of the 3rd Hussars. She had been a member of the A.T.A. for two years."

WILL OF MRS. HONOR SALMON First Officer Honor Isabel Pomeroy Salmon left £30.279 7s. 2d. gross, with net personalty £28,131 6s. 6d She left her shares in Sir Isaac Pitman and Sons, Ltd., and Dun Mallard, Ltd., to the children of her brothers Isaac, Christian and John, together with her leasehold property, the site of 1, Amen Corner, London (destroyed by enemy action) and the right to receive war damage compensation. Subject to the disposal of her effects she left the residue to her husband, to whom, together with her brother Christian E. Pitman, Doynton House, Doynton, probate has been granted. "

Pauline Gower should have the last word, perhaps. "Honor will be very much missed not only as an excellent pilot but as a friend. She was a charming and gallant person."

One of the ATA Women

John L Polando

b. 6 September 1901

d. 13 August 1985, aged 83

 

MacRobertson Race in 1934

Flt-Lt R P P Pope

 

Chief Instructor with Air Service Training

King's Cup in 1930, 1934

Oases Air Race in 1933

 

photo: 1921, aged 22

Mr G Powell

Dick Terry kindly tells me that George Beacall Powell was one of the original 16 pilots for Imperial Airways, and that he was b. 20th April 1899 in Loppington. Sadly, the rest of his story is quite a short one:

"In July 1916 George Powell was a science undergraduate at Keble College Oxford, but he left the University the following year and on 11 June joined the RFC as a Cadet.

On 29 July 1917 he was promoted to 2nd Lt on probation on the General List. In October, after further training he was appointed Flying Officer. In November he attended the Armament Experimental Station Orfordness for bombing & weapons training.

In February 1918 Powell contracted jaundice and it was more than six months before he was allowed to resume flying – but only under close medical supervision. He was eventually declared fit for Home Service flying duties on 15 November 1918.

In January the following year Powell was awarded the Air Force Cross

In February 1919 he was assigned to No 1 Communications Squadron where he remained until September when he was transferred to the unemployed list. He joined Instone Air Line soon after.

In 1923 Powell had to withdraw from the Kings Cup Air Race when his DH 34 could not be spared from its official duties on the London Continental air service.

Powell moved to Imperial Airways when it was formed by the amalgamation of Instone Air Line with three other companies in April 1924.

He died a year later on 19th April in a motoring accident at Mitcham Common. The coroner decided that Powell had been driving negligently and blamed him entirely for the accident – the other driver was cleared of all blame. Shockingly these details were recorded on his death certificate.

His body was taken back to Croydon and then flown, in a D.H. 34, to Shrewsbury Aerodrome. The Times dated 27 April 1925 recorded the event as the first time in the history of aviation that an aeroplane had been used as a hearse. The funeral and interment took place in Stanton, Captain Powell’s home town."

King's Cup in 1923

Mr H A Presto (or Oresto)


King's Cup in 1930

photo: 1916, when a 2nd Lieut in the 2/5th Royal Warwickshire Regiment, aged 25

Wing-Cmdr Harold Melsome Probyn

from Lancashire, later an Air Commodore; retired to Kenya. Felt that aviation wasn't as much fun after the invention of the parachute. In 1927-8 he entered as 'Harold Brooklyn', and 1929-31 he entered as 'J Wellworth'; I have no idea why.

King's Cup in 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1931, 1933

Mr Clifford B Prodger

 

b. 8 June 1889 in Alexandria, Minnesota, USA

Flight said in 1917 :"I always thought that Walter L. Brock, the unceasing masticator and the winner of many notable aerial races, was the most modest American England had ever seen, until C. B. Prodger came over."

After seven years as a rancher in the Little Missouri Valley, he worked for the Northern Pacific Railway, then went into the motor business and became well known as an amateur racer. He won many prizes, including the Montana Speed Trophy in 1910.
Learnt to fly in 1911 with Beatty in the USA, then did a good deal of special work for the Pathe Film Co. and also went in for night flying. In the spring of 1913 he went to Montana to give exhibitions on his own machine—a monoplane with an 8-cylinder V-type Boland motor.
After this it seemed, he said, that there was "nothing doing" in aviation in the USA, and he gave up flying for a time. Then in February, 1915, he came over to Hendon and rejoined Beatty to assist him in training pilots for the R.N.A.S.

  Sydney Pickles

When the school closed down, he took over from Sydney Pickles as an official test pilot, assessing every kind of aeroplane, "his calm, analytical mind being admirably adapted for work of this nature."

Killed 22 Aug 1920 in Redwood City, California, with two other aviators, in a crash from a height of 300 feet.

Aerial Derby in 1919

see also http://earlyaviators.com/eprodger.htm

Lieut C RV Pugh, RN

 King's Cup in 1931, 1932

 

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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'...

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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!

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