A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

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photo: 1916, aged 19

in 1920

Maj Leslie Robert Tait-Cox

b. 27 April 1897 in London

RFC and RAF in WWI, then an "exceptional" test pilot for Nieuport and General Aircraft Co Ltd, of Cricklewood.

Elected a Member of the RAeC in October 1921; at the time, the firm of 'Tait-Cox and James, Test Pilots' were extremely busy, and "could find work for half-a-dozen pilots", if they could find them.

In fact Leslie, followed by Jimmie, broke the British Speed record in 1921.

Joined Major Jack Savage's 'Sky-writers' in 1922 - as did Mogens L Bramson, Cyril Turner, G A Lingham, G F Bradley, D A Shepperson, C R McMullin, E D C Herne, Sydney St Barbe, Charles Collyer (US), Marttin Rudolph (Germany), and W von Feilitzsch (Germany).

Rejoined the RAF in 1926, and left in Jan 1935.

Joined Plessey after WWII and was still alive in 1953

Aerial Derby in 1919, 1920, 1921, 1922

photo: 1914, when a Lieutenant in the Scots Guards, aged 24

Col John Edward Tennant DSO, MC

From Urquhart, Scotland.

Wrote 'In the clouds above Baghdad' in 1920 (which you can read online).

Killed in WWII: 7th August 1941, when a Group Captain (pilot) RAFVR; buried Innes House, Moray.

 

King's Cup in 1922

photo: 1938, aged c.25

Flt-Lt Hugo Moreton Waddington Thomas-Ferrand

b. c.1913. From Kensington, London.

"a serving RAF Officer with 614 Sqn, stationed at Cardiff. He is an 'A' licence holder and has 1500 hours flying experience. Recreations are squash and golf"

Killed in WWII: 29th March 1945 when a Wing Commander RAF; buried Tenby, Pembrokeshire.

 

King's Cup in 1938

photo: 1930, aged 29

photo: 1947, aged 46

F/O Sidney Albert 'Bill' Thorn

Joined the RAF in 1925 (RAE Farnborough from 1927) after a stint in the Coldstream Guards followed by poultry farming in Surrey, then took over from Neville Stack (him, again) as chief test pilot for the Aircraft Disposals Company. Charter pilot at Brooklands; sometime middleweight and light-heavyweight boxing champion, and a major in the Home Guard. Avro's test pilot from 1934.

Killed in the prototype Avro Tudor, (together with chief designer Roy Chadwick), on 23rd August 1947.

[With thanks to John Falk, who is Roly's (see above) son, and Bill Thorn's grandson]

 
King's Cup in 1930, 1932

F/O G Thorne

King's Cup in 1929

 

Sqn Ldr B S Thynne

In 1936, CO of 601 (County of London (Fighter)) Squadron, Aux AF, and an old Etonian.

Entered for the Schlesinger Race in 1936

photo: 1935

Flt-Lt F B Tomkins


King's Cup in 1930

in June 1920, aged 23

Imelda Mary Agnes Trafford

 

b. London

killed 25 September 1920; passenger in G-EAPC, a Central Centaur IIA twin-engined plane which crashed at Hayes, Middlesex, killing her, the pilot Mr Castleman, and five others.

Miss Nora Thornton Trevelyan

b. 3 Jun 1902, from Wooler, Northumberland

She owned a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-AAIB, but she crashed it at Renfrew following engine failure on the 15 May 1930; she and her passenger Mr Spencer escaped with minor injuries.

She married William Eric Davies in July 1931.

Aerial Tour in 1930

 

Frederick Roy Tuckett

b. 10 Apr 1901 in Bushey, Herts. 5ft 11in tall, dark hair, blue eyes.

Flew his Moth solo to Cape Town in 1929-30 and returned in November 1930 on the 'Balmoral Castle' steamship to his home at 1 Hatton Gardens, London.

A year later, flew Miss Cook (a descendant of Charles Darwin) to study gorillas in Africa, and in 1935 flew the route of the 1934 MacRobertson Race to film it from the air.

In 1935, apparently (according to the Hull Daily Mail), "Everybody knows of Mr Roy Tuckett, the aerial film pioneer whose film, London - Melbourne," is attracting such large audiences at cinemas ail over the country, but few know that he was very nearly compelled to give up his career as airman through acute digestive trouble. In his own words: "A year ago I feared I could not carry on, could not eat a meal, could not even drink a cup tea without suffering agony from indigestion. Nothing tried seemed to bring me any relief. I had two X-rays, and my appendix was removed—all to no avail. I was on the point of abandoning my flight over the Australian Air Race Route when, as a last resource, I tried Maclean Brand Stomach Powder. To amazement the first dose brought instant relief, so I continued the treatment, carried the powder on my flight, and am completely cured."

In August 1935 he made a startling offer to Haile Selassie: "CABLE TO EMPEROR South African (sic) Airman Offers His Services Mr. F. Roy Tuckett. the South African airman-kinematographer, who filmed his solo Croydon-Capetown flight in 1929, and the London-Melbourne air race, yesterday cabled the Emperor of Abyssinia as follows:— Offer my services in defence of your country. Seven years' flying experience of light aircraft includes 50,000 miles cross-country flights over desert, or under tropical conditions, mainly in Africa. Would be willing to deliver aircraft to Addis Ababa." Interviewed by a Western Morning News representative, Mr. Tuckett explained the motive actuating his cabled offer. "I want to start a new life" he said."

While he was waiting for a reply, after a while WWII broke out. Roy joined, firstly, the Fleet Air Arm (1939-41) as a Lieutenant then, in September 1941, the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA). He was Pilot No. 658.

ATA Roy Tuckett

On his application form, his 'Previous Business' was 'Films and Flying', but under 'Orders or Decorations, he mysteriously wrote 'Irish V.C. (Police Decoration).'

He then worked steadily, safely delivering 39 different types of aircraft, until January 1944 when his contract was terminated with 3 months' notice. This appears to be related to his accident in October 1943 when he failed to ballast his D.H. Dominie correctly and the aircraft tipped onto its nose on landing. Up to then, he had been considered a "reliable and steady pilot and a good officer. .. [a] very keen and a willing worker", although in 1943 one instructor considered him to have "a somewhat nervous disposition" and to be "rather slow to adapt to new types".

 

He later moved to Scotland, and saw something very strange in 1953: "The time was 10.45 a.m., and there was a dead calm... Happening to glance up, I noticed darkish cloud overhead from the base of which issued a long dark streak, which I took to be smoke, pointing down towards the sea at an angle of 45 degrees, and finishing a hundred or so feet above it...  As I watched, I noticed it was shortening and being sucked into the cloud at the junction with which it became vapourised and was revolving rapidly. There was considerable turbulence of the cloud base. It continued to be drawn into the cloud until, within a matter of about three minutes, it had disappeared... I have been all over the world as an air pilot and have seen waterspouts and "dust devils" being sucked into the clouds from the desert, but I have never before witnessed a phenomenon quite like this."

He then wrote to the local paper; ". Weather freak Sir, —I was glad to see that other readers had observed similar phenomena in the sky on Monday. I suppose it must be ascribed to some particular weather trend. By the way, I have never been in the army. My flying experience was in my own plane in film work abroad.— Yours, &c., F. Roy Tuckett. West Balkello Cottage, Strathmartine, by Dundee, July 16, 1953."

d. 25 April 1961 in London

 

Roy owned the 1930 D.H60G Gipsy Moth G-AARW, later re-registered ZS-ABX.

 

Pioneering flight from England to South Africa 1929-30

one of Canada's rarest air mail stamps - only about 9 are known to exist, and they go for about $35,000 each

Image courtesy images.ourontario.ca.

Capt Terence Bernard Tully AFC (on left)

'Terry', b. 18 Dec 1891 in Carracastle, Mayo, Ireland.

RFC from September 1914, then RAF; served in Egypt, and in the Dardanelles in 1916 (just after the Gallipoli campaign had ended in failure). Air Force Cross in June 1918. He left the RAF in June 1922, joined the Reserve of Air Force Officers as a Flying Officer in April 1923, then became a naturalised Canadian and joined the Ontario Provincial Air Service as a pilot.

d. c.7 September 1927, trying to cross the Atlantic from London, Canada, to London, England.

Carling Breweries of Ontario had offered a $25,000 prize to any Canadian or British subject making the flight; eventually, they also agreed to provide the plane, M-202, a Stinson SM-1 Detroiter monoplane named 'Sir John Carling'. Terry, and his navigator [and fellow Irish-Canadian] Lieutenant James Victor Medcalf, gave up their jobs to make the attempt, and were sworn in as 'official carriers of government mail' by the mayor of (Canada's) London. 

Their first flight was made on 29 August, 1927. 10,000 people watched the aircraft take off; it got as far as Kingston, Ontario but had to return to base because of fog. It took off again at 5am on the 1st September, but fog and heavy rain again forced it to land in Caribou, Maine and stay there until 5 September when they flew to Harbour Grace, St. John's Newfoundland.

They set off across the Atlantic at 09:45 on 7 September, and were spotted 30 miles out, flying past Cape St Francis. They were never seen again, however, and an extensive search failed to find any trace. [One bag of air-mail had been left behind, hence there are still a few stamps around].

They had taken out insurance (which paid out $15,000), so that and the $25,000 prize were put in trust for their wives and 3 children.

Aerial Derby in 1921

photo: 1911, according to RAeC, aged 31;

1921, again RAeC; however:

in 1922, if we are to believe 'Flight'

Mr Charles Cyril Turner

RAEC certificate No 70. i.e. very early aviator, and journalist; wrote 'the struggle for the air 1914-18', 'the old flying days' in 1927, and other books; died 1952

 

King's Cup in 1922

John Dennis Turner

b. 1904 in Rochdale, a stockbroker

engaged to Violet Baring

Aerial Tour in 1930

Roscoe Turner

and Gilmore the Lion

 

Born 29th September, 1895 in a small farmhouse near Corinth, Mississippi; left school at 16, became a car mechanic, then a 'balloon pilot' in France and Germany during and after WWI.

Always called himself 'Colonel' (although he only reached First Lieutenant in the Army), wore a (self-designed) uniform - cap, sky blue tunic, jodhpurs and boots - and, although he said that he didn't particularly like wearing 'this monkey suit', he reckoned that it 'makes people notice me'.

As, perhaps, did Gilmore the lion cub, who flew with him (to begin with, on his lap) and had his own parachute. (Later known as Gilmore the Lion, and finally ...

gilmore the stuffed lion

Gilmore the Stuffed Lion).

Dare-devil barnstormer, wing-walker and parachutist through the 20s; permanently penniless, he was sentenced to a year in jail in 1922 when he unknowingly bought a stolen plane (he was later pardoned). Moved to Los Angeles and flew for the movies, including Howard Hughes' 'Hells Angels', but it was from a combination of flying movie stars on charter trips and air racing that he finally made some money.

"There was only about a dozen people in the United States in 1939 who had flown over 300 miles per hour - after 1926, just a handful of us kept speed development going".

A hugely successful air racer - winner of the Bendix Trophy, and the Thompson Trophy 3 times.

Died 23rd June, 1970 in Corinth, Mississippi, aged 74 (Gilmore died in 1952, aged 22).

Roscoe is buried in Crown Hill Cemetery, Indianapolis, Marion County, Indiana.

Gilmore is in the Smithsonian!

 

MacRobertson Race in 1934

mini macr - sydney turner

Sydney Lewis Turner

 

b. 25 May 1912, in Eltham, London

Got his Aviator's Certificate in August 1933 with Surrey Flying Services,  then became Director of Aircraft Exchange and Mart (Sales agents for Airspeed) in 1934.

He always wrote in either green or turquoise ink, his spelling was terrible, and he had to remind the organising committee for the Race that the aeroplane had been "entered jointly by Stack and myself", so would be grateful if they would copy him in on any correspondence.

He and Stack teamed up for the Race as "Turner had the money but Stack had the reputation". [Stack admitted that he had been "having a bad time financially"].  

After their early withdrawal from the Race, Stack and Turner sued Airspeed. They contended that the aeroplane - the specially-built Airspeed Viceroy - wasn't really ready; it vibrated alarmingly, the brakes locked up, the electrics were positively dangerous, and the fuel consumption was double what they had been promised. Neville Shute Norway of Airspeed described these as 'trivial defects'.

Stack and Turner finally withdrew the accusations and had to hand back the aeroplane - for which they'd paid £2,448 as a first instalment - and another £1,850 cash. The aeroplane stood around for a while then, just as it was being prepared by Max Findlay and Ken Waller to fly in the Schlesinger Race in 1936, representatives of the Spanish Republican Air Force made them an offer they couldn't refuse: Findlay and Waller had to make do with an Envoy. Which crashed, killing Max and the radio operator. see here for more.

In 1935 Sydney entered his Percival Gull for the King's Cup Air Race, but didn't, in the end, take part.

In 1944 he was a test pilot for Rolls Royce in Nottingham.

MacRobertson Race in 1934

photo: 1930, aged 29

Mr Charles Henry Tutt

A Londoner. 'He is in the fish trade'.

 

King's Cup in 1938

photo: 1933, aged 18

Mr Angus Hunter Tweddle

originally from Melbourne, a textile merchant. Married a ballet dancer called Betty Cuff in Melbourne in 1940; died 1975

 

King's Cup in 1935

1930

1931

Ethel Doreen Tyzack, from Garthynghared, (yup, 'Garthynghared'), Dolgellau, Wales, b. 16 Sep 1907, owned a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-AAJM.

She was prominent in the First All-Ladies Flying Meeting in September 1931, performing an 'acrobatic' display in a Moth: "Seeing that this lady has only done some 50 hours since obtaining her licence, her show was really extraordinarily neat. She first of all did several loops, and then finished with two of the prettiest and most smoothly executed stalled turns that we have seen."

She and her brother Samuel  Peregrine 'Perry' Tyzack bought an Avro Club Cadet (G-ACHW) in June 1933, but the following month she crashed whilst performing an aerobatic display in D.H. Moth G-AAGS in Barmouth, killing one spectator and injuring another. She suffered head injuries and severe shock. The inquest's verdict was 'accidental death following a judgement of error' on her part.

So, in December, they advertised the Cadet for sale:

"AVRO 'CLUB' CADET. Done just under 16 hours since new. Instruments in both cockpits and Reid & Sigrist Turn Indicator. Special finish. Price £1,150.—Reply to : TYZACK, Plum Park, Towcester, Northants."


Southend-on-Sea Flying Services Ltd bought it...

... and she then sold her own Moth the following year.

She married German-born Ronald Erwin Ottmar Velten in 1936 (they were still flying in 1952) and died aged 96 in January 2004 in Bournemouth.

 

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