A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

map - AD 1919

The 'Aerial Derby' Air Race round London began in 1912; the race held in 1919 (the 'Victory' Derby) was actually the fourth. It had substantial prizes - although never quite enough to attract the intended overseas competitors - and many of the leading aviators of the time competed. There were always separate prizes for outright speed, and performance versus a handicap.

To begin with, Flight thought it was "quite the most effective race of the year" - "It is no exaggeration to say that millions of people see the race, talk about it for days before it is flown, and discuss it for days after it has become a memory". However, by 1922 they thought that "this year's race was even duller than last year's".

The race had degenerated into a purely national affair, and become rather predictable - the same aircraft won the Speed Race 3 years in a row, and in 1923 the 9 machines finished in exactly the order predicted by the handicappers.

It was abandoned in 1924 and effectively amalgamated with the King's Cup (which had started in 1922). Occasionally, the Royal Aero Club would float the idea of reviving it, but it never happened.

Year by year

The Aerial Derby round London Speed Prize Handicap Prize

 AD1919 - Prize giving

1919: Claude Grahame-White leads the cheers

 

Gerald Gathergood

Harold Hamersley

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AD1920 - Nieuhawk

1920: Demonstrating the safety, speed and

certainty of air travel (... really?)

 mini - f t courtney

Frank Courtney

Harold Hamersley
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1921: Disappointing and Tame

 mini - jimmy james

Jimmy James

mini - jimmy james

Jimmy James

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 AD1922 - EAXZ

1922: It was even duller than last year's

 mini - jimmy james

Jimmy James

Larry Carter

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AD1923 - L Carter

1923: Fine weather and good racing

Larry Carter 

 

Harold Hamersley

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