A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire


mini - j t babington

Wing-Commander John Tremayne Babington, D.S.O.

Represented RAF Andover in the Air League Challenge Cup in 1923

Nancy Adelaide Bagge

b. 5th October 1907 in King's Lynn, owned a 1930 Klemm L25 Ia, G-AAUP.

She was the second of five daughters of Sir Richard Ludwig Bagge and Anna Victoria Wilmsdorff Mansergh, lived in Gaywood Hall and married Captain George Cecil Pereira on 1 March 1934.


Jack Bagshaw

Accompanied Tommy Rose in the Schlesinger Race; described as 'a young South African pilot'.

That's it, so far; sorry.


Schlesinger Race in 1936

photo: 1927, aged 37

photo: 1930, aged 40

Hon Lady Mary Bailey

The Hon. Mary Westenra, b. 1 December 1890 in London but brought up mainly in County Monaghan, Ireland.

Her family's home was Rossmore Castle, which was a grand affair built in the 1820s, with turrets, a vast drawing room and servants' quarters, not to mention about 20 cottages on the estate:

rossmore castle www.monaghan.ie/museum

Here she is, with her brother Willie, and parents (Mittie and Derry) on a set of steps by the house, in 1913:

mary bailey rossmore steps Throttle Full Open

I visited County Monaghan in 2014 and asked in the local museum if they knew where the house was. 'Oh yes' they said, 'but it was demolished forty years ago'. It seems that it became severely infested with dry rot in the 1940s, was abandoned and, indeed, demolished in 1975.

Anyway, here's all that's left of it now:

rossmore steps

rossmore walls

Mary married South African mining magnate and white suprematist politician Sir Abe Bailey in September 1911 (so, she was 21, he was nearly 47; his first wife had died in 1902 and he already had two children). They then had five more children - 2 boys and 3 girls.

She learnt to fly at the London Aeroplane Club in 1926. She was the first woman to fly across the Irish Sea 'by the long route' from Chester to Dublin, the following August.

The following March (1928) she began a solo tour to Cape Town, via Malta and then Cairo. Here, her plane was locked away by order of the Governor-General of the Sudan to prevent her from continuing alone, so she contacted Dick Bentley (who had flown to the Cape a few weeks before) to escort her in his own aeroplane over the "dangerous area of the southern Sudan". She then crashed in Tanganyika, writing off her aeroplane (she said it was her fault), but Abe made arrangements for a replacement Moth to be delivered from Pretoria and she continued, despite having 'flu. Abe was there to meet her when she arrived at the end of April. 

The return journey was made via the western 'French' route - the Belgian Congo, Angola and the French Congo. She finally arrived back at Croydon on 16 January, 1929, 10 months after she left. It was "undoubtedly one of the finest performances ever put up by a woman pilot." 

Lady Bailey was "so modest, so vague and so charming", and was "surprised that anyone should make a fuss about her journey". 

A Director of National Flying Services in 1929, (with Frederick Guest, Colonel the Master of Sempill, Alan Cobham, etc); she was also awarded the Brittania Trophy by the Royal Aero Club, and then made a Dame of the British Empire in 1930 for "services to aviation".

Mary Bailey in 1930

At the Chateau d'Ardennes in 1930

She was a guest at Amelia Earhart's reception at the RAeC in May 1932 - photo here.

In early 1933 she gave everyone a scare by disappearing for several days on another solo flight to Cape Town; thankfully, she had only got lost, run low on fuel and landed safely in the Sahara. [Bert Hinkler, who disappeared at about the same time, was killed in the Alps]. She then flew back to England and almost immediately went down with a bout of typhoid, but recovered in time to compete in the King's Cup later in the year.

Mary Bailey3

After that, she concentrated on looking after their horses, giving and attending loads more balls and receptions, and marrying off their many children.

When Abe died in 1940, she settled near Cape Town (still keeping a house in Rutland) and died there 29th August 1960 aged 69.

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

Lady Mary's aeroplanes were:

a 1926 DH.60 Moth (G-EBPU),

a 1927 DH.60X Moth (G-EBSF, the one she crashed in Tanganyika),

the replacement DH.60X Moth (G-EBTG, which Abe bought in Nairobi);

a 1928 DH.60G Gipsy Moth (G-AABN);

a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth (G-AAEE) and

a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-AAYA.

Flt-Lt. L. M. Bailey, A.F.C.

Represented RAF Duxford in the Air League Challenge Cup in 1923

photo: 1920, aged 19

Mr William Richardson Bailey

from Newport, Mon

King's Cup in 1929

James Keith Campbell Baines


Born 21st December 1905 in Woodford, Essex. His father, Louis, was a tea and indigo merchant; his elder sister Phillis was born in Calcutta. In 1901 the family lived in Tiverton, Devon; Louis, Lillian, Phillis, Jack, Silsen, Kathleen, and their 3 domestic servants.

He was killed, aged 28, during the MacRobertson Race on 23rd October 1934 when he and Gilman crashed in Italy.

Joined the N.Z.A.F. in 1925, training at Palmerston North and Wairapa.


He arrived in London from New Zealand on March 26, 1934. He sold his Avro "Avian," just before departure, to a brother-officer in the N.Z.A.F. Reserve, and embarked for England in January, via Australia and South Africa. During the ship's stay in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide, Perth and Capetown, Baines kept his hand in with flights on machines hired from the local aero clubs. At the time of the Race, he had flown 3,860 hr.

His "Fox" was purchased at Hounslow from Anderson Aircraft and was modified at Hanworth by N.F.S., Ltd., as a replica of the sister-machine entered by Raymond Parer. Its capacity was increased to 175 galls., and its range to about 1,750 miles.

"Whilst awaiting delivery of the "Fox," Baines has been making approach landings at Mildenhall. He expresses himself delighted with the new aerodrome, its freedom from obstruction, its perfect run, and its billiard-table surface."


In  July, 1934, James wrote to the organising committee for the race and asked them to 'change the name of the nominator from myself to Mrs Lilian M Campbell-Baines, my mother, who has made it possible for me to enter the Races'.

Baines and Gilman crashed on the 10th of October 1934, and the funeral, at the British Cemetery at Naples, was held on the 26th. The British Air Attache in Rome, Group Captain T Hetherington, undertook all the funeral arrangements; the photographs of the ceremony 'very clearly indicated the profound sympathy of the Italian nation and the honours bestowed on these two officers'.

Sadly, James' brother had also been killed earlier in the year in a gun accident; their eldest brother had been killed during WWI also flying, aged only 19.

Although they had insured the aeroplane, Baines and Gilman hadn't taken out any life insurance.

MacRobertson Race in 1934

seen here with HRH the Prince of Wales, in 1931

Capt Valentine Henry Baker MC AFC

b. 1888;

At the time, chief instructor at Heston Aerodrome.

"Baker founded the air school at Heston and it became the most famous flight school in the United Kingdom. During his career as an instructor in England, Baker personally taught many notable pupils, including Edward, Prince of Wales, Lord Londonderry of the Air Ministry, Lord Lloyd, Amy Johnson,Prince George, Duke of Kent, and Grace Marguerite Hay Drummond-Hay.

In 1934, Baker left Heston to join his friend James Martin to found the Martin-Baker Aircraft Company, where Baker was the company's test pilot.

Killed 12 September 1942; "during a test flight of the Martin-Baker MB 3 prototype, the engine seized and he was forced into an emergency landing, during which the aircraft struck a tree stump and he was killed. Baker's death affected his partner deeply, so much so that pilot safety became Martin's primary focus and led to the reorganisation of the company to focus on ejection seats."

Aerial Tour in 1930

photo: 1930

Capt Harold Harrington Balfour PC MC

b. 1 Nov 1897

Lord Balfour of Inchrye, Conservative M.P. for the Isle of Thanet in Kent. He used his DH Moth for electioneering in 1929, and was returned unopposed (i.e. nobody bothered to stand against him) with a majority of over 21,000 in 1931.

In 1933 he published his autobiography, called 'An Airman Marches', in which he admitted that he had never paid some fines for driving offences in 1916 whe he was a trainee in the RFC; sure enough, Sussex Magistrates Court sent him a bill for the £3, plus 10 shillings costs, when they read the book. He sent them a cheque for £5.

He (and Mrs Balfour, coincidentally) was back in a nursing home in 1934, this time for appendicitis.

He became Parliamentary Under-Secretary for Air in 1938, helping to set up the Civil Air Guard, and flew a Spitfire in August 1938, saying that it was a 'very nice aeroplane for an old gentleman like me'.

Once WWII broke out, he was a member of the Air Council, responsible for the Canadian part of the Empire Training Scheme, and flew a Whirlwind when he was 43 (although not in combat).

After WWII, he was appointed 'Minister Resident in West Africa' by Churchill, but went to the House of Lords when that government was defeated. He was there until his death in 1988.

King's Cup in 1929, 1930

photo: 1930, aged 25

Mr Lionel Maxwell Joachim Balfour

b. 11 Dec 1905.
Ian Long kindly tells me that "  Christopher Balfour, Lionel's son, published a lovely book about him in 1999 called "Spithead Express: The Pre-War Island Air Ferry and Post-War Plans" (Magna Press, ISBN 0 95194423 8 7), copies of which can be found on Ebay from time to time."
"Lionel gained a degree in engineering and served his apprenticeship at English Electric. He was left with a substantial amount of money following the death of his mother in 1928. He owned Puss Moth G-ABIY, which his sister Rachel had in fact won in a raffle. He housed it at Hanworth with his Moth G-ABJH.
He was aware of the need for an air link between Portsmouth and Ryde on the Isle of Wight and put a considerable amount of money into Wight Aviation, of which he was a director, in 1931. A Klemm G-ABJX and a Spartan 3-seater G-ABLJ were used by the firm. In 1932, the company attracted Francis 'Lux' Luxmoore who also became a director and the name was changed to Portsmouth, Southsea &  Isle of Wight Aviation (P.S.&I.O.W.A.). The venture proved to be a great success, with their pale blue, buff and silver livery. Airspeed were keen to use P.S.&I.O.W.A. to show off their products and the air ferry used 6 Couriers, 1 Ferry and 1 Envoy. The air ferry were also keen Monospar customers."
Another director of PS&IOWA was Sir Charles Rose.

He married Lady Myrtle, 24-year old third daughter of the Admiral of the Fleet Lord Jellicoe, in 1932, and here they are after the nuptuals:

mini - lmj balfour and lady myrtle


She died after an operation on 10 November, 1945 though, and he married twice more.

"All of the air ferry aircraft were impressed into service when WWII began and so the company's engineers began to carry out contract work for their neighbours, Airspeed. By the time the war began the company had already manufactured 31 pairs of Oxford wings for Airspeed. Balfour's company undertook a complete rebuild of an Oxford and thus became a part of the Nuffield repair organisation. By the time the war ended they had repaired or modified over 1,000 Oxfords. Keen to restart the air ferry using De Havilland Dragon Rapides, Balfour managed to get a severely restricted charter service going but it ceased by the end of 1947. Now presented as a fully fledged engineering company it looked to others sources of revenue. P.S.&I.O.W.A. became Portsmouth Aviation and designed and built the Portsmouth Aerocar G-AGTG. It was displayed at the 1947 and 1948 S.B.A.C. air shows. Despite great interest in the Aerocar at home and in India, the venture was stalled. During the latter half of the 20th century the company were constructing military ordnance carriers and loaders.

Lionel Balfour died in 1973."

King's Cup in 1931

Mr R Bannister

I think this must be Flt-Lt W R Bannister, ex-RAF chief instructor of the Herts and Essex Aero Club at Broxborne in 1932; on him "rested the smooth running of the entire flying side".

He formed the London Air Circus at Broxbourne in 1933 to give aerobatics, displays and joyrides.

Killed 2 Oct 1934, when he crashed G-ACPM, a Dragon Rapide of Hillman's Airways, off Folkestone, killing himself and 6 passengers.

His widow was left "totally unprovided for" with five young children, and the Royal Infant Orphanage, Wanstead took them all into its care.

King's Cup in 1933


Mr J Barbour

I think this must be John Milne Barbour:

RAeC Certificate 11474 (20th September, 1933);

b. 20 August 1906 in Dunmarry, Ireland. A merchant for the Linen Thread Co., Glasgow


King's Cup in 1935

Violet Baring

b. 1900

b. Violetta Mary Archer in Reading, "A niece of Lady George Dundas, of Newmarket, and also of the Marquess of Zetland."

Married Richard Baring in Jan 1921 but 'divorced him'.

Violet was killed the following July (1931) when she and her 'old friend' Philip Noble (to whom she had just sold the aeroplane) crashed in G-EBYK while attempting a forced landing near Wokingham, Berks:

"The woman pilot, who was well-known in Society, and her passenger, a director of Lloyds Bank, who was also an enthusiastic flyer, were killed instantly; both receiving terrible injuries."

John Dennis Turner, who said he was engaged to be married to Violet, identified the body and gave evidence at the inquest.

Her house at 23 Earl's Court Square, London, was for sale 'at a low price' by the following January.

Audrey Florid Durell Drummond Sale Barker in 1929, aged 21

b. 15 Jan 1908 in London

d. 21 December 1994

photo: 1930

Capt Charles Douglas Barnard

Personal pilot to the Duchess of Bedford, 'ribald and golden-haired'.

b. 8 Dec 1895 in London; his father, Charles Gilbert Barnard, was a master printer (and not related to Franklyn Barnard's father). He learnt to fly in 1915 with the RFC. After WWI, became a test pilot for Sopwith, then a pilot with the de Havilland Airplane Hire Service after meeting Alan Cobham, then their chief pilot, in Spain.

In July 1920, he was convicted of manslaughter, for killing an elderly man in a car accident in which he failed to stop, and didn't report; "Charles Barnard (24), a demobilised airman from Watford whose machine was brought down in flames in France, was charged with the manslaughter of Alfred Sharp on the night of May 2, by knocking him down whilst driving a motor-car. A button, answering the description of other buttons from the deceased's coat, was found between the bonnet and mudguard of the accused's car. He was remanded, bail being refused." It also turned out that his driving licence had lapsed at the time, and he hadn't renewed it until some days after the accident.

He was given 4 months imprisonment in the 'Second Division' (such prisoners were kept apart from other classes of prisoners, received more frequent letters and visits and wore clothes of a different colour). The Judge said there was "too much reckless driving by people who served in the war. Their war services were no consolation to bereaved relatives."

Settling down a bit after that, he was the pilot in 1923 when an aeroplane belonging to the de Havilland Hire Service was used to ferry Commander Bristow to have a look at an Italian ship, the D'Aosta, which had become stranded in Malta. It was the first time the flight had been made, and it took over 14 hours, mainly (Charles complained) because the authorities in Pisa insisted on a deposit of 15% of the value of the machine.

One of his other jobs for the de Havilland Hire Company was to fly G-EBGT 'Nulli Secundus', a perfectly good D.H.9c, while a certain Captain Spencer jumped out of it - see the video here.

His first long-distance flight with the Duchess of Bedford was a tour in 1927 from her home in Woburn Abbey to France, Spain and North Africa, covering 4,500 miles in 3 weeks. Two years later, he piloted her Fokker monoplane, the 'Spider' to India and back, 10,000 miles in 88.5 hours; the RAeC gave him their Gold Medal for the year. It wasn't their first attempt at the flight to India and back - a year before they had tried the same thing, but problems with the propellor meant that the Duchess had had to come back by steamer from Karachi (which at the time was in India, of course).

In 1928, described as a 'flying man', he was cited as the co-respondent in a divorce case. At the time, he and Mrs Melita Erna May were living together at his place in Monmouth Rd, Bayswater; they got married in December.

In 1930 he and the Duchess made another record flight from London to Cape Town and back, 19,000 miles in 20 days, and he again flew to Malta and back in Puss Moth G-AAXW in 2 days: see the videos here :http://www.britishpathe.com/video/to-the-cape-and-back-in-19-days and here: http://www.britishpathe.com/video/malta-and-back-in-2-days
In 1931, he was seriously injured when he, Lord Lovelace and their American mechanic crashed near Tripoli, as they were flying to Kenya.
His marriage didn't last; Melita left him in 193 and filed for divorce. He was in court again, when he was accused of assault by Mr Thomas Birks, a solicitor's clerk. Charles, described as a 'civil pilot wth a distinguished record' tried to persuade his wife to return to him, and somehow thought that a revolver might help; Mr Birks tried to intervene, and alleged that Charles fired a shot at him. Charles, however, won the case and was awarded 15 guineas damages (although he had asked for 50).
He then formed his 'Flying Circus' - 8 aeroplanes which toured India in 1933 "giving displays of formation and stunt flying to over a million people who have never seen such a thing before... Joy rides will be offered to people at a small charge".
He was back again by popular request in 1935, as co-respondent in yet another divorce case - this time with Mariska Marguerite Spurr.
d. August 7, 1971. Only 2 people went to his funeral...
King's Cup in 1923, 1925, 1930

photo: 1925, aged 29

Capt Franklyn Leslie Barnard OBE AFC

Winner of the first King's Cup in 1922. "an exceptional pilot - careful, skilful, and daring" and "his ability as an engineer was fully equal to his skill as a pilot".

b. 1896; his father, Owen Barnard, was a stockbroker's clerk (and not related to Charles Barnard's father).

AFC in WWI; chief pilot for Instone (later) Imperial Airways. OBE in 1927.

Killed in July 1927 while testing propellers for the Bristol Badminton which he had entered for the King's Cup Race, which crashed at Filton after the engine seized. Major Beaumont, appearing for Imperial Airways at the inquest, said the company felt it had "lost one of the world's magnificent airmen".



It is with profound regret that we have to record the death, as the result of a flying accident on Thursday, July 28, of Capt. F. L. Barnard.

Capt. Barnard—one of our mostexperienced and popular pilots—was carrying out a test flight on the Bristol " Badminton " ("Jupiter VI ") biplane, which had been entered for the King's Cup Air Race, at Filton aerodrome, when, according to eyewitnesses, the engine suddenly stopped and the machine crashed to the ground just outside the 'drome from a height of about 200 ft. When a number of people who had been watching the flight arrived in the field where the machine had crashed, the latter was found completely wrecked, with the engine embedded in the ground, and the unfortunate pilot lying in the cockpit beyond human aid.

From evidence at the inquest, which was held on July 29, it appears that when Capt. Barnard's engine failed, he put the machine into normal gliding angle and attempted to land. While manoeuvring to do so, the machine lost flying speed and stalled from about 80 ft. Capt. Barnard had already made three other test flights on the machine, trying out different airscrews.

Capt. Barnard's loss to the aviation world is a great one indeed, for he was an exceptional pilot, careful, skilful, and daring—but daring only when flying alone or testing. He served in the Air Force during the war, and was awarded the Air Force Cross. Following the Armistice he was pilot to No. 24 Communication Squadron, when he carried many distinguished personages to and from the Continent. He then became associated with Instone Air Lines, and later, when Imperial Airways was formed, was their chief pilot.

His skill as a pilot was such that he was entrusted with many important aerial missions—the most conspicuous of which was the piloting of the Imperial Airways D.H. "Hercules" air liner, carrying Sir Samuel Hoare, Lady Maud Hoare and party from London to Cairo on the inaugural flight of the Egypt-India service. He also, it will be remembered, took part in previous King's Cup races, being the winner in1922 and 1925, and flying last year the Bristol " Badminton "in its original form.

Capt. Barnard leaves a widow and young son, to whom, in common with his many, many friends, we offer our deepest sympathy.


King's Cup in 1922, 1923, 1924, 1925, 1926

photo: 1930, aged 32

Flt-Lt John Francis Tuffnell Barrett

From Surrey. DSO and bar, DFC.

Killed in WWII: 3rd September 1941, when a Group Captain, RAF; buried in Berlin's WWII Cemetery


King's Cupin 1930

(RAeC photo  missing)

Mr John Morgan Barwick

b. 22 November 1908 in London, a Director.

RAeC Certificate 13625, 4th March 1936

'Master of Fox Hounds of the Bedale Hunt'; lived at Firby Hall, Bedale Yorks in 1936.

King's Cup in 1938


Jean Gardner Batten in 1930

b. 15 September 1909 in Rotorua, New Zealand, a "shy, determined girl".

"By the time I was nineteen I knew my future must be in flying." Studied music from a young age but, having passed the Royal Academy of Music Finals, she sold her beloved piano to get to England and pay for flying lessons. 

One of the most spectacularly successful aviators of the early 30s; after her solo flight from England to Australia in 1934 (at the third time of trying) the New Zealand Govermnment awarded her £500 in recognition of her feat. She was in Melbourne a few months later to greet Scott and Campbell Black as winners of the MacRobertson Race, and left Sydney the following April to fly back to England, but didn't quite beat her record.

In November 1935, came her real breakthrough: she flew to Brazil and beat the South Atlantic crossing record, taking 13 hrs 15min in her Percival Gull.

This time, she was awarded:

  • the Order of the Southern Cross (by the Brazilians);
  • the Gold Medal of the French Academy of Sports;
  • the Brittania Trophy (by the Royal Aero Club);
  • the C.B.E. for 'general services to aviation';
  • the Legion d'Honneur (the French seemed to like her, for some reason);
  • the Johnson Memorial Prize (from the Guild of Airline Pilots and Navigators), and
  • she was guest of honour in Paris at the Aero Club de France.

In October 1936, having attended literally dozens of receptions and award-giving ceremonies, she set off once more, this time to fly to New Zealand in her Percival Gull. On the way, she beat Harry Broadbent's record solo time to Australia, despite a puncture in the tail tyre which a helpful aerodrome official repaired by stuffing it with face sponges.

Just as Scott and Guthrie were returning rather sheepishly from the miserable Schlesinger Race to Cape Town, Jean was getting ready to fly from Australia to New Zealand. She arrived there on October 17th, met by large and enthusiastic crowds; the first woman to cross the Tasman Sea, the first direct flight from England to New Zealand.

On the last day of 1936, however, Jean's South Atlantic record was beaten by another woman - Mme Maryse Bastié.

In 1937, Jean again won the Brittania Trophy, the Harmon Trophy, and the Segrave Trophy for her 1936 flight. In October she set off for England again; at one stage, she was heading west, trying to beat Harry Broadbent's record, as Harry Broadbent was heading east, trying to break her record. She won; Jean beat Harry's record, while he had to give up at Basra. "I confess I am fed up", he said...

Jean picked up yet more awards; the Gold Medal of the Royal Aero Club; the Gold Medal of the F.A.I. (no less); summoned to Buckingham Palace to meet the King and Queen of the Belgians (exciting); immortalised in Madame Taussaud waxworks (until they melted her down, at least), another round of receptions as guest of honour...

But  her brief time in the spotlight was coming to an end. Harry Broadbent took back his Australia-England record; Arthur Clouston and Victor Ricketts more than halved her England-New Zealand record time in 1938. She still attended dinners and receptions in her honour; she wrote her autobiography (called, rather disappointingly, 'My Life'), but she made no more record attempts. Even so, her remaining record, solo to Australia, stood for over 40 years.

In WWII she toured the country as part of the 'Wings for Victory' campaign, giving dozens of lectures anywhere between Manchester and Penzance.

Her Percival Gull, G-ADPR 'Jean' was presented to the Shuttleworth Trust on 26 April 1961, having been requisitioned by the RAF in WWII and then returned to Hunting Aircraft. However, by 1969 it needed major repairs and was grounded until 1978. Jean herself offered to come back from Tenerife to help: "I used to be quite good at stitching canvas on wings". It was sold in the early 90s (when Shuttleworth was strapped for cash) and is now on display at Aukland Airport:

In 1980 she and Edgar Percival were made liverymen of the Guild of Airline Pilots and Navigators, and she then travelled to Hull to open the 'Silver Wings' exhibition, in honour of Amy Johnson.

Jean Batten owned:

a 1929 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-AALG, which she flew to New Zealand in 1933;

a 1929 DH.60M Moth, G-AARB, in which she broke the England-Australia record in 1934, and was later owned by Gabrielle Patterson, R Gordon and BK Lyall (simultaneously, that is), and later,

a 1933 DH.60G III Moth Major, G-ACKF.


She died in 1982 in Majorca.

photo: 1931, aged 39

in 1933, with thanks to David Thayer

Mrs Elise Battye

"On an income of £1,000 a year, Mrs Elise Battye keeps a small house within thirty miles of London, a Morris Minor as an essential adjunct to the scheme, and a Moth aeroplane. In the latter she flies 180 to 200 hours a year for under £250 all told.

She flies constantly to the Isle of Wight, Gloucestershire and Norfolk - to the last two as many as three times a month - and all these places are unpleasant to get to by any other means." [this is still true, of course]

[The average salary in 1934 was less than £200 a year]


King's Cup in 1935

Elise owned:

- a 1930 DH.60G Gipsy Moth G-AAYL, and then

- a 1935 Miles M.2H Hawk Major, G-ADLA, which was sold to South Africa in 1939.



F/O J Beaumont (with Mrs B)

an instructor with No. 5 Flying Training School in 1931; Flt-Lt 1935; Chief Flying Instructor 'for civilians' with Air Service Training at Hamble from 1935.

In 1934, "The demonstration was by two of the A.S.T. flying instructors, Fit. Lt. J.B. Veal and F/O. J. Beaumont. This couple have already been seen at the R.A.F. Flying Club Display at Hatfield, and the excellence of their flying commented upon... It would be difficult to over-praise the cleanliness and smoothness of their display."

King's Cup in 1934

Mary, Duchess of Bedford

b. Mary du Caurroy Tribe in 1865 in Stockbridge Hants, the second daughter of the Rev. W H Tribe; he later became Archdeacon of Lahore and (after growing up in Sussex, where she and her elder sister Zoe were looked after by their uncle and aunt), she lived there for several years. It was in Lahore that she met, and married, Lord Herbrand Russell, who in 1888 became the 11th Duke of Bedford.

She was probably best known as an aviator, but had several other strings to her bow; she was a member of the Society of Radiographers, and was "interested in natural history, especially ornithology". To prove this, she once shot 200 pheasants in a day and (although presumably not the same day) caught 18 salmon weighing 200lb.

Actually, she wrote scientific papers on ornithology, and was a member of the British Ornitholgists' Union.

She was deaf (I'm not sure if this was always true, or if it developed later on in life).

During WWI, Woburn Abbey was turned into a hospital and every morning the Duchess would "go on duty at 5 or 6am, and in her nurse's dress would assist at nearly every operation." The King was pleased to award her the 'Royal Red Cross, in recognition of her valuable nursing services', in Jan 1918.

Her personal pilots included C D Barnard, James Allen and (from 1934) R C Preston, but she herself learned to fly in 1933.

Dame Mary from 1928.

She owned:

a 1927 DH.60X Moth, G-EBRI;

the 1927 Fokker F.VIIa, G-EBTS, 'The Spider', in which she broke the England-Cape Town record in 1930;

a 1928 DH.60G Gipsy Moth (G-AAAO);

later she owned

a 1931 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-ABOC, later sold in Kenya,

a 1932 DH.60G Gipsy Moth, G-ABXR,

a 1933 GAL ST.4 Monospar 2 G-ACKT, registered in October, in which her personal pilot, James Bernard Allen, was killed in December 1933, and finally

a 1934 D.H.60G Moth G-ACUR in which she flew out over the North Sea in March 1937 ...

... and disappeared.

Lady Utica Beecham, b. Utica Celestia Welles; married Thomas (later Sir Thomas) Beecham on 26 July 1903.

She owned a 1925 Avro 504K (C724, G-EAAY).

Don Bennett 1948

Don Bennett in 1947

Donald Clifford Tyndall Bennett CB CBE DSO RAF

flag australia b. 14 September 1910 in Queensland

'Pathfinder' Bennett for his work with Bomber Command during WWII. As you probably know, the Pathfinder Force consisted of people who actually knew how to navigate properly, and marked the targets for the bombers.

In May 1945, he became a Liberal M.P.: "Air Vice-Marshal D. C. Bennett, Pathfinder chief and youngest man of his rank in the R.A.F., was returned unopposed to-day as Liberal M.P. for Middlesbrough West."

In 1948 he and his wife bought a couple of transport aircraft, formed AirFlight Ltd, and joined the Berlin airlift to fly dehydrated potatoes to the 2 million population.

CEO of British South American Airways until forced to resign over an interview he gave in 1948.

Opinions varied on what had happened: "SACKED FOR SPEAKING MY MIND-Airway Chief Air Vice-Marshal D. C. T. Bennett has been dismissed from his post as chief executive officer of British South American Airways. The following statement was issued by the British South American Airways Corporation: "The board have terminated the appointment of their chief executive, Air Vice-Marshal D. C. T. Bennett, following differences of opinion on matters of policy.

In a statement, Air Vice-Marshal Bennett said:— "Last week, in view of current misinformation on certain affairs of this corporation, I granted an interview to a newspaper correspondent, at which I expressed views concerning the obvious ills of British civil aviation in general and concerning recent interference with management by the Minister of Civil Aviation. It is because of this that I have been forced to discontinue my appointment. I feel I should make it clear that I have been forced to take this course for exercising what I consider to be a right—the freedom of speech."

"A personally difficult and naturally aloof man, he earned a great deal of respect from his crews but little affection."

He also came 8th in the Monte Carlo Rally of 1953, driving a Jaguar.

Wrote his autobiography in 1958, called, of course, 'Pathfinder'.

 Died 15th September 1986, aged 76

MacRobertson Race in 1934

margaret bennett 1934


faith bennett 1944

in 1944

Faith Bennett

b. May 12 1903 in London as Margaret Ellen Riddick.

She married Hollywood film writer Charles Alfred Seiny Bennett in 1930, and calling herself 'Faith Bennett', was an actress pre-WWII -  firstly on the London stage and then in films. Known (apparently, according to iMDB) for 'Seeing Is Believing' (1934), 'Master and Man' (1934) and 'Eyes of Fate' (1933), although I've seen references to other films e.g. 'Love In The Air' and 'Atlantic Crossing.'

At the same time, she took up flying and passed for her 'A' Licence in 1934.

Anyway, in May 1941, she decided to 'do her bit': "Faith Bennett, actress and writer, is flying to England to ferry 'planes for the Royal Air Force [sic]. Mrs Bennett was born in London 30 years ago [sic]. Flying is her hobby. She holds both American and British licenses. ''One of my brothers died in the last war, another is in the Royal Navy, my sister is a censor at Bermuda - they are all doing their bit, and I want to do mine,' she said."

And indeed she did; she served in the ATA for over 4 years.

Post-WWII, she married Herbert Henry Newmark who, as it happens, was also an aviator:

herbert newmark 1938

She d. 1969 in London.

One of the ATA Women

Philippa Bennett 1946 RAeC

Philippa Mary Bennett

26 March 1946:

"26-year-old Miss Philippa Bennett has been flying planes ever since she was 17. For 5 and a half years she flew with the Air Transport Auxiliary service, when she piloted all types of planes from 4-engined bombers to Spitfires. She got her B Licence in 1938. Now she is proposing to make a business out of what was her hobby and her war work; she has bought two high wing monoplanes with which she is starting her own air taxi service at Southampton Airport. She hopes to specialise in aerial photographic work.

Photo Shows: Miss Phillippa Bennett in her taxi monoplane at Southampton Airport"


One of the ATA Women

photo: 1916, aged 20

photo: 1930, aged 34. Same bloke,  more pies.

Capt James Leonard Neville Bennett-Baggs

Chief Consultant pilot for Armstrong Whitworth, the 'burly' Bennett-Baggs

King's Cup in 1925, 1930

mini - r r bentley

Richard Read Bentley in 1917


b. 20 November 1897 in London

Dick described himself as "one who preferred to live in the open, rather than within the confines of a London office" - one who, luckily, found it possible to make his living mainly by aviation.

His mother having died when he was 12 (he said "I did not then recognise that my father was a broken man due to the loss of my mother"), he and his father had to move from Sheen Gate Mansions to a boarding house in a less fashionable area of London. After a while in an office in a paper merchant's - which he hated - he was packed off to Canada; when he got there, he found that his father had also died.

After a stint as a farm hand in Canada, he came back to England and joined the RFC in WWI (photographic reconnaisance with 59 Sqn, then a flying instructor at Hooton).

Then,"I hung around in London trying to get a job without any luck, like hundreds of other demobs.  As I didn’t want to return to Canada I decided to try Rhodesia." He soon fell under Africa's spell, and for quite a long time lived in the jungle and went from job to job, supported by his dwindling RAF gratuity.

He then had "four marvellous years" after joining the South African Air Force - "Whoopee!!! Back on a job I really knew".

When the D.H. Moth first went on sale in 1926, Dick immediately decided he wanted to fly one from London to Cape Town. He raised the £600 he needed from the Johannesburg 'Star', in return for exclusive publicity, and on the 1st September 1927 set out from Stag Lane in G-EBSO, carrying a Mauser pistol generously lent to him by his C.O. Sir Pierre van Rynefeld. Lady Bailey had christened the aircraft 'Dorys', after Dick's then-girlfriend (later his wife), and you can even watch Lady B do her stuff here.

After a "trouble-free" flight, he arrived in Cape Town on the 28th September, completing the first solo flight in a light aircraft from England to Cape Town (and the longest single-engined flight to date, for which he got the RAeC's Britannia Trophy).

The 'Star' unexpectedly presented him with the aircraft (the the original deal was that it would be sold) and he then made his living from air taxi and joy-riding flights. In 1928, he escorted firstly Lady Heath, then Lady Bailey across the Sudan in their record-breaking flights (them women weren't trusted to fly alone, of course).

He and Dorys flew back to England for their honeymoon and then spent a few months at Hooton. On the way back down to Cape Town (yes, again), they met up with Glen Kidston and Donald Drew, who were using a Fokker triplane to do 'aerial safaris'; they offered to give Dorys a lift so that Dick's plane could carry a spare propeller for Stanley Halse's plane (I know this is all very complicated, I'm trying my best). Anyway, the Fokker made a forced landing and Dorys bumped her head quite badly, but was apparently OK. Dick later said that "I have said “apparently” because twenty years later - we had parted in 1938 - in 1948 she died in America of a haemorrhage of the brain. Could that blow received in 1928 have been the root cause of her demise?"

The flying world grew steadily and Dick soon became a ubiquitous figure on the civil aviation scene.  "Popular, energetic, resourceful, he was as indifferent to the weather as to the day of the week, joining in the harum-scarum adventures of customers, welcome everywhere.”  He flew the Shell Comper Swift G-ABUS, and his aerobatic displays were memorable.

He flew in the RAF(VR) in WWII, remarried (to Anne), then retired.

Dick died in May 1990, aged 93.

All quotes shamelessly lifted from Roma Part's 'Pioneering Spirit', which is on the Johannesburg Light Plane Club's website www.jlpc.co.za

photo: 1912, aged 20

photo: c1934, aged 42



Capt Henri Charles Amedie de la Faye Biard

From Jersey; a very early flier, test pilot for Supermarine. Schneider Trophy pilot in 1922, 23 and 25 (during which he crashed, "making a huge hole in the sea", but emerged merely slightly dazed).

His autobiography is called, er, 'Wings' (1934).

Joint runner-up, Best Name in a King's Cup Competition.

King's Cup in 1923, 1924

Nancy Beynon Birkett, in 1931

from Hove, b. 29 April 1901, had a 1929 Southern Martlet, G-AAII, which later became EI-ABG in Ireland.

photo: 1928, aged 26

F/O Lascelles Spence Birt

Killed (whilst in RAF Reserve) 25/6 Oct 1929; Birt was piloting the Short Calcutta flying-boat 'City of Rome' which ran into a gale after leaving Naples and set down on the sea near Spezia. An SOS was picked up and a steamer sighted them, fixed a cable and started to tow them in. Unfortunately the cable snapped and the flying boat capsized, drowning the crew and four passengers.

King's Cup in 1928

mini - t campbell black

photo: 1934

Mr Tom Campbell Black

MacRobertson hero (Part I).

b. 22 August 1899 in Brighton

RNAS in WWI, then moved to Kenya as a 'soldier settler'. Persuaded Mrs Florence Kerr Wilson to set up Wilson Airways in 1929, and became her managing director and chief pilot until 1932 when he returned to England as personal pilot to Lord Marmaduke Furness. He always liked horses.

Married Florence Desmond (a famous actress and comedienne) in 1935, before Charles Hughesdon (see below) did.

See here:  for a movie of CWA Scott and Tom Campbell Black explaining how they got from Mildenhall to Melbourne (although Tom, too busy having a fag, don't say much. He only says 'Kircut', actually)

Tom's obituary, in The Aeroplane - September 23, 1936 by Charles G Grey, the Editor

Tom Campbell Black was killed at the Liverpool Municipal Aerodrome at Speke on September 19 in an accident of a kind which has happened over and over again without harm to anybody. That Tom Black of all people should have been killed in such an accident is a freak of Fate.

At present the north side of Speke airport is occupied by 611 West Lancashire (Bomber) Squadron, Auxiliary Air Force. On Saturday Tom Black, who had flown up from Gravesend a day or two before in the Mew Gull in which he was to compete in the Johannesburg Race, was demonstrating the machine to the Liverpool people who had backed him in the race. He had made several flights, and an experienced pilot who saw them said that Tom Black's last landing was the best he had ever seen in a Mew Gull or anything else, and that his landings were better and better after each flight.

To make inspection by the public easier the machine was in a little roped-in enclosure close to the RAF's Bessonneaux temporary sheds. At four o'clock in the afternoon Tom Black started out from this little enclosure intending to fly the machine back to London. His line when taxying out to the proper place from which to take off at the Western side of the aerodrome down by the river against an East wind took him parallel with the boundary of the landing area - necessarily in the direction from which any machine landing into the wind in the ordinary way would arrive.

At that moment Flying Officer P S Salter, RAF, who had taken one of 611's Harts up for a test, was coming in to land, which he did in a quite orthodox and proper manner - up-wind towards the squadron's sheds.

Tom Black started taxying out with a man on each wing-tip. A short way from the enclosure he signalled to the men to let go and speeded up to about 15 mph, then he slowed to about 10mph and was to be seen looking at something in the cockpit. That probably accounted for his not seeing the Hart coming in.

The pilot of the Hart obviously could not see him, and so long as pilots are stuck behind massive motors they never will have a chance of avoiding collisions on the ground.

Those on the ground saw what was happening, but naturally could do nothing to stop it. The Hart came slowly on, taxying towards the sheds, and the left wing of the Mew Gull hit the left leg of the undercarriage of the Hart, which collapsed. Apparently the first revolution of the airscrew of the Hart after the impact hit the top of the Mew Gull's left wing and the next tore straight across the cockpit. The screw then hit Tom Black, who evidently threw up his hands to protect his head when he saw the Hart looming over him, and the screw hit him on the side so that he died from internal injuries.

The narrowness of margin between this fatal accident and what might have been merely an annoying collision is shown by the fact that the windscreen, or rather the forward fixed part of the transparent cover of the cockpit, is untouched, as also is the back-board of the cockpit against which the seat rests. A foot either way would have saved him.

If the machines had met head-on the Hart would probably have removed the motor from the Gull, and though there would have been a fire the impact between the machines would have been so slight that the odds would have been in favour of Tom Black getting out. If the machines had met at a slightly different angle the airscrew of the Hart would probably have chewed up the wing of the Gull and would never have touched the cockpit at all. And naturally if either had been going at different speeds, faster or slower, the collision would never have happened, because the angle of their tracks, which was estimated by an experienced on-looker at about 170 degrees, would just have allowed them to clear one another.

Tom Campbell Black was born in 1899. He went to the Royal Naval School at Greenwich, where he was when war broke out in 1914. Thence he joined the RNAS at Cranwell in 1917. Naturally he was best known even among aviating people, as co-pilot with CWA Scott, of the de Havilland Comet which won the MacRobertson Trophy and its £10,000 first prize in the race from Mildenhall to Melbourne. Later he added somewhat to his reputation by flying from London to Cairo in something under twelve hours, - but these were minor affairs when compared to his real service to British Aviation as the great pioneer of Air Transport in East Central Africa.

With the financial help of that far-sighted lady, Mrs Wilson of Nairobi, he started Wilson Airlines, which today is linked up with Imperial Airways, and was the foundation of air transport in our East African colonies. Tom Black himself made thirteen journies by air between Kenya Colony and England, which did much to convince East Africa. Also by way of proving his arguments he flew round the capitals of Kenya, Tanganyika, Uganda, and Zanzibar in a day.

For all that work rather than for the merely ephemeral notoriety of hitting up a few records Tom Black deserves to be remembered as one of the builders of British Aviation.

As an inidvidual Tom Black was one of the most lovable persons I have met. His Service work and his African flying proved that he was all that a man should be, and he had a far-seeing commercial sense, but with it all he had a sort of juvenile charm and simplicity which endeared him to all who knew him at all well. Everything appealed to him as being intensely amusing, and yet he had an earnest and serious side to his character.

His sense of humour was immense. If only one could get some of his Central African adventures down on paper just as he told them they would be a great success. His story of the Serengetti lion which killed the American tourist who tried to take a kinema picture of it after it had been wounded, and what happened after that, could have been made by Rudyard Kipling into one of his best stories, practically without alteration.

Another of his endearing qualities was his loyalty to his friends. One found it in his admiration for CWA Scott, and his stories of their partnership in their race to Australia. I might make Charles Scott uncomfortable if I wrote all that Tom Black told me about him, but I do think that it is due to both of them to say that when after the Australian race certain handsome financial offers were made to Charles Scott, as the senior pilot, he insisted that Tom Black should share the proceeds with him - and that in an equally proper spirit Tom refused to share.

In March 1935 Tom Black married Miss Florence Desmond. Some day the theatre trade will discover that she is one of the World's greatest tragic actresses, as well as one of our greatest comediennes. In fact the last time I saw Tom he was greatly pleased because at last somebody in the theatre trade had offered his wife a real acting part in a play, instead of just regarding her as a genius in funny films and in cabaret. They were a happy couple, and so completely opposite in temperament that their married life was bound to be a success.

Last year Mr and Mrs Tom Black formed Campbell Black (Aviation) Ltd. to take on any kind of job in aviation. They were the sole directors. The company began its activity by owning a few aeroplanes and letting them out to air circuses and Tom Black used to get quite a lot of fun out of running about the country supervising their activities while preparing bigger schemes. The last time I saw him was on one of those trips to the opening of the Municipal Aerodrome at York. We published a photograph of him at the time. There he was his joyous, boyish self, and that is how I like to remember him.


I've read this a few times now, and I still can't quite understand what happened at Speke.

The airport looked like this in 1936:

We are looking north-west; the River Mersey would be bottom left, off the edge of the photo.

If there was an East Wind, aircraft would be taking off and landing into it, so Tom would go to the western end of the landing area.

The Hart would also be landing at the western end, heading east. He would probably land very close to the spot where Tom would be parked, waiting for his turn to take off. The Hart was landing 'up-wind towards the sheds', and then taxied 'towards the sheds'.


what was the Hart doing taxying back westwards? Apparently the two aircraft hit almost head-on - the left wing of the Gull struck the left undercarriage of the Hart. Surely the Gull was static, as Tom was looking for something in the cockpit and obviously not expecting a Hart bomber to suddenly appear on top of him?


One explanation is that Tom was parked facing south-south-east, the Hart landed south-west of him and then turned north-west, though I wonder why in that case the Hart pilot didn’t see the Gull.

Unless (and this seems unthinkable) Tom was taxying across the middle of the landing area, not paying proper attention; the Hart landed, came straight on and hit him.

Poor Mr Salter; he must have gone through the rest of his life known as the man who killed TCB.

King's Cup in 1933

MacRobertson Race in 1934

(photo missing)

Capt Norman William George Blackburn

b. 25 May 1895 in Leeds. brother of Robert (founder of Blackburn Aircraft), from 1944 in charge of all Blackburn factories in Yorkshire.

However, they fell out spectacularly in 1950; Norman and fellow director H V Gort had their appointments terminated by the rest of the Board; they then called an extraordinary meeting to sack the rest of the Board, and Robert sent out a circular to shareholders asking them to vote against them. Which they duly did, by 2 to 1, and Norman and Mr Gort were sent packing.

Robert died in 1955, Norman in Mar 1966.

King's Cup in 1930

photo: 1921, aged 20

photo: 1930, aged 29

Flt-Lt David William Frederick Bonham-Carter CB, DFC

No, I don't think he's related to Helena. He was related to Florence Nightingale, though!

b. 22 February 1901; an RAF Officer at Martlesham Heath in 1936, later Group Capt and Station Commander at RAF Waddington in WWII, despite being stone deaf by then; seconded to RCAF and involved in Canada with the Empire Training Plan, then Air Commodore (first President of Newark Air Museum).

Died 1974 in Ipswich.

King's Cup in 1928, 1936

Lt P A Booth, RN

Accompanied Cyril Alington in the Schlesinger Race, attending to the "navigation and such duties".

A Supernumary Instructor at the School of Naval Co-operation, Lee-on-Solent.


Schlesinger Race in 1936

photo: 1912, when a Lieutenant in the Black Watch, aged 26

Air-Vice-Marshall Amyas Eden Borton, CB, CMG, DSO, AFC


When a General in 1919, directed Ross Smith to survey the route to Australia, laying the foundations for all the future trips

King's Cup in 1933, 1934

mini - g h bowman

Sqn-Ldr Geoffrey Hilton Bowman in 1916

b. 2 May 1891 in Stretford, Lancs.

Air League Challenge Cup in 1921



Mr G EF Boyes

King's Cup in 1928, 1929
Mr F D Bradbrooke

on the staff of 'The Aeroplane'

King's Cup in 1935


Flt-Lt J Bradbury

Transferred from the Army to the R.F.C. in 1917; 1919-20 R.A.F. in Egypt, and from 1921-25 in India, seeing active service in Waziristan in 1923 and 1925.

A test pilot at Martleslham from 1926.

King's Cup in 1931

photo: 1923, aged 28

Mr Mogens Louis Bramson

from Copenhagen. Flew with Major Savage's 'Sky Writers' at Hendon in the 1920s - borrowed an aeroplane to write a certain lady's name in the sky. She, of course, later became his wife.

And, would you believe it, he was in charge of the 'Scandinavian Sky-Writing Expedition' in 1923-24.

King's Cup in 1931

photo: 1916, when a 2nd Lieutenant in the RFC, aged 23

in 1926

Sqn-Ldr (Sir) Christopher Joseph Quintin Brand KBE, DSO, MC, DFC

born in Beaconsfield, in the 'Cape Colony'. WWI Ace (16 victories). Knighted in 1920 after (more or less) flying to Cape Town in the Times' Silver Queen. Principal Technical Officer at RAE Farnborough 1925-7; played a vital role in the Battle of Britain in charge of No 10 (Fighter) Group. later Air-Vice-Marshall; died in 1968.

King's Cup in 1926

photo: 1930, aged 33

Capt Hubert Stanford Broad MBE AFC

b. 18 (or 20) May 1897

shot through the neck in WWI by one of Richtofen's Red Circus pilots; [c.f. Angus Irwin, below]; second in Schneider 1925, to Jimmy Doolittle.

In 1928, he spent possibly the most boring 24 hours of his life by beating 'all existing figures' for long endurance flights in light aeroplanes (unfortunately there was no official 'record' to beat as such, the FAI not recognising such things). His log makes, um, rivetting reading:


5:30pm: Hendon

7:40pm: Gloucester

8:30pm: Coffee and sandwiches

11pm: Over Central London, 3,000ft; watched theatre crowds leaving

Midnight to dawn: Remained over Edgeware

2:30am: second meal

4:10am: First signs of dawn

5:10am: Biggin Hill. Saw night bomber in air


Noon: Stamford. Very sleepy

4:30pm: Ipswich


Having trimmed the controls, Hubert settled down and read 3 complete novels 'to relieve the boredom'.

When he finally landed, he he said that he was very stiff with cramp, and promptly went home to sleep. His Moth still had 12 gallons of fuel, so it could have kept going for another 4 1/2 hours...


He was named as co-respondent in Beryl Markham's divorce in 1939.

de Havillands test pilot until 1935 (Bob Waight succeeded him) - broke the world's speed and height records for light aircraft in the original monoplane Tiger Moth, then joined RAE Farnborough; Hawker test pilot post-WWII; died 1975



 No. 2. CAPT. H. S. BROAD, Senior Production Test Pilot, Hawker Aircraft Co.

 FOR sheer wealth of flying experience it is doubtful whether there is another pilot in the world to equal Hubert Broad. He has flown everything from diminutive single-seaters to multi-engined--bombers, and including a number of out-and-out racing aircraft. His logbooks, of which he has filled some nine or ten, total over7,500 hours' flying time and 182 separate types. These are honest types—not modifications or different mark numbers of the same aircraft. Many of these he has also flown as seaplanes. Broad, at the age of nineteen, learnt to fly at the Hall School of Flying at Hendon in 1915. The aircraft on which he made his first flight (there was no dual, a pupil did straights across the airfield until he felt it was safe to do a circuit)was the single-seater Caudron with35 h.p. Y-type Anzani engine. Believe it or not, with this tiny horsepower the Caudron occasionally was made to stagger into the air with two people on board, but the passenger had to sit on the wing by the side of the nacelle.

 Early Days

 The end of 1915 found Broad in the R.N.A.S. at Eastchurch, and he was on the very first course at Cranwell, which was then a R.N.A.S. establishment rejoicing in the name of H.M.S. Daedalus. His first tour of duty at the front was with No. 3 Squadron at Dunkirk. He was among a number of pilots lent by the R.N.A.S. to the R.F.C. No. 3 Squadron flew Sopwith Pups, and it was while he was on one of these, escorting a bombing raid by 90 h.p. R.A.F.-engined B.E.s, that he was shot through the neck by one of Richtofen's later Goering's—Red Circus pilots.

 On recovery he spent a while as an instructor at Chingford and then went for his second tour of operations with No. 46 Squadron, who flew Sopwith Camels. The end of the 1914-18 war found Broad instructing at the Fighter Pilots' Flying School at Fairlop.

 Peace found him, as it found so many other young fellows ,with the ability to fly aircraft superbly and no other means of making a living. But a good living could be made by joy-riding in the early 1920's. First he joined the Avro Company, who were running joy-riding in a fairly big way, and in 1920 went to the Adiron Lakes in America with two Avro 504 seaplanes. These two aircraft saw their last days in Long Island, where they were completely wrecked by an autumn gale.

 By the next year he was back in England competing in the Aerial Derby air race round London on a Sopwith Camel. He finished 6th.In October, 1921, Broad joined de Havillands. Those who know this great concern now will smile to learn that when it started in those days it consisted entirely of two fabric hangars and a hut at Stag Lane. If memory serves, the capital of the company at that time was £100.

 The D.H. series numbers, which started in the Aircraft Manufacturing Co. Ltd., were carried on in this new firm, and Broad flew every one of the D.H. designs from the D.H.27 to the D.H.90. In the same period he did a lot of test flyingfor other aircraft constructors.

 He did the W.10, Handcross, Hendon, and some others for Handley Pages, the Parnall Pipit and the Saunders A. 10 fighter. On the Gloster Grebe he ran into wing flutter for the first time (this trouble, in those days, was on a par with the compressibility troubles we have now).

 Seaplane testing

 Another big job he did was most of the development work on the Gloster II and III racing seaplanes. Over a period I used to go with him to Felixstowe regularly. As a Press man I was forbidden the precincts of the R.A.F. seaplane station, but there was a perfectly good Great Eastern Railway pier alongside the station. I used to climb over the fence and watch the proceedings from the pier head. Broad nearly lost his life there one day in October,1924. As he was landing the Gloster II a forward strut to the floats collapsed, and the aircraft turned completely over. Mrs. Broad was watching from the shore, and it seemed a very long time before Hubert appeared on the surface.

 In 1925 Hubert Broad flew the Gloster III racing seaplane in the Schneider Trophy contest which was held that year over Chesapeake Bay in America. This was the race in which Henri Biard, flying the SupermarineS.4—the true forerunner of the Spitfire—crashed in the water with wing flutter. Broad finished this race second to Jimmy (now General) Doolittle. That must have been a vintage generation, because many names from that period have found their way into the high-spots of this last war.

With the advent of the D.H. Moth in all its variants, Broad was to be seen performing aerobatics at most flying club meetings and entering many of the races. These included the King's Cup Race, which he won in 1926. He was flying a delightful Cirrus I Moth, which was a study in ivory and red. His average speed over the whole732 miles was 90.4 m.p.h. His piece de resistance in aerobatics was a perfectly formed big loop, the base of which was only some 150ft from the ground. It was a joy to behold, but very dangerous to perform. Broad had sufficient sense to realise this and sufficient courage to stop doing it.


 It was during an aerobatic show that Hubert had his closest shave in a life packed with incident. And it was so simple. Flying a D.H. Tiger Moth with no one in the front seat, he did a slow roll—a stunt at which he was a master. The safety belt in the empty cockpit was loosely done up. While the Moth was inverted the belt hung down and, as the aircraft turned the right way up again, the belt came back over the joy-stick. The result was that Broad had only about 1 1/2 inches of stick movement; but, nothing daunted, he made a sort of tail-up, seaplane landing. In this connection it is to be remembered that there were no lovely 2,000-yard runways on which to this sort of thing. In those days there was not a single runway available in Britain; not even for the take-off of over-loaded aircraft for long-distance records!

 Another unhappy moment occurred when he found the tail trim (the incidence of the whole tailplane was adjustable)of a D.H.34 had been connected in reverse. By a good deal of jockeying he managed to get into Northolt. On yet another occasion a careless mechanic left a screwdriver jammed in the chain and sprocket of the rudder actuating gear. This necessitated a down-wind, crosswind, finishing up into-wind landing at Hendon airfield, because that was a bit bigger than Stag Lane.

 One of the prettiest little aircraft he ever flew was the original D.H. Tiger Moth monoplane. This was tailored exactly to fit Broad. Physically he is not of big stature and few other pilots could get into the machine. In the front of the cockpit was a bulkhead which had two holes just large, enough for the feet to be threaded through, and these holes had to be padded with sorbo rubber so that Broad's shins did not get barked while landing and taxying. Springing was almost non-existent. Span was22ft 6in and length only 18ft 7m.

 In August, 1927, on this machine he broke the world's record for light aircraft for both speed and height. For the former the figure was 186.47 m.p.h., he having taken19 min 59 sec to cover the 10 km, and for altitude he reached 20,000ft in just 17 min. A year later he took two more world's records on the D.H. Hound.

 In 1935, after 20 wonderful years of service, he left de Havillands and later did some flying for the Air Registration Board. From here he went to the Royal Aircraft Establishment and finally joined Hawkers to be in charge of all their production testing at Langley. He will be 50 in a matter of a few weeks, yet every day sees him at oxygen height testing Tempest IIs. As he says, he has gone from 35 h.p. in the Anzani to over 3,000 h.p. in the Centaurus and Sabre VI, and from 2 ½ lb/sq ft in the Caudron to 40 lb/sq ft in the Tempest II.

King's Cup in 1923, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930, 1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1938

Jennie Broad in 1935.

b. 28 June 1912 in Cape Town.

Flight, April 1937:   "The chief attraction of the weekend was a demonstration of the Hillson Praga monoplane by Miss Jennie Broad. After she had put the machine through its paces, numerous members took the opportunity offered of going up with her in the machine."

According to the Blue Mountains Advertiser (Katoomba, NSW), Fri 18 Nov 1949: “Miss Jennie Broad first graduated as a pilot in 1934, and to add to her experience qualified as a ground engineer. By this she helped to meet her flying instruction expenses in overhauling engines for airline companies and working as a club engineer. She had many jobs in aviation, including flying passengers to air rallies in Holland and Belgium and demonstrating and selling light aircraft. Through the experience she gained in this field, she became England's first woman test pilot.

On the outbreak of war she joined the W.A.A.F. as a transport driver and received a commission as a code and cypher officer. In July, 1940, in answer to the call for civilian pilots to ferry aircraft for the Royal Air Force, she transferred to the Air Transport Auxiliary. From ferrying light training aeroplanes she graduated to fighter aircraft and bombers, flying some 40 different types of aircraft until 1944, when she was medically boarded. She then joined a welfare organisation for the Royal Air Force and after a few weeks' training in Germany went to the Middle East, where she operated clubs on R.A.F. desert stations in Egypt and Iraq.”


After the ATA in WWII, Jennie moved to Australia 'as a refugee from British bureaucracy' (reportedly saying "Australia is the only country in which to live these days"), and in 1951 joined the WRAAF as a 'Flight Officer, Administrative'.

Jennie Broad 1951

By then, she had made her political views perfectly clear; she didn't like that Socialism:

"In August 1948, I returned to England." she said. "When I had left, the country had had five years of the toughest time. They had had all the horrors of the blitz bombs, the doodlebugs and so on. But I had returned expecting to find my country free of some of the rules and directions of war. When I left the people had a tremendous hope for the future and were proud of the part their country had played. I spent two of the unhappiest months of my life there. Gone was the spring in the step of the people. They were tired and content to accept the rules that had been laid down for them. The queues were longer than ever. The people were living mainly on whale meat and fish. We got one egg every six weeks.

I could not understand it at all. But slowly it came to me. It was in 1945 that the Socialists took over. They came with the old Labour Party understanding on the part of the people. But it was not long before Mr. Attlee had nationalised everything he could lay hands on. Taxes were on such a scale that the worker found it paid him better to stay away from work at regular intervals. A large number of girls in the Post Office admitted that they had deliberately lost a day a fortnight because it paid them better to do so.

In 1947, we introduced the 'Engagement Order.’ In 1735 compulsory labour was abolished in England but it rested with a Labour Party to re-introduce it.

To-day there are at least three men who are serving terms of imprisonment because they refused to accept the work that was offered to them. Refusal to take the job offered means imprisonment. You see the people are gradually again being enslaved. In England, owing to the nearness of war, we had gone further along the road to compulsion in everything and Labour was presented with an already working scheme for the carrying out of their policy. In that regard the Labour Party in Britain was in a better position than was the case in Australia. We have our identity cards. If I move from town in town I have to register and re-register. When I return to England if I go abroad I have to register again. I decided to leave.it. We had won the war but lost our freedom. Nobody is allowed to follow his own will. If he works overtime, he is summoned and fined. In Australia they had been in danger of going along the same path but they had recovered in time and realised what it meant”



The Biz (Fairfield, NSW), Thu 15 Jun 1950:  "MEET JENNIE BROAD Fairfield residents have noticed an attractive young woman chatting with women in the shopping centre. It was Miss Jennie Broad, one of those courageous women who was a test pilot in Britain during the war. Charming and feminine, Jennie Broad has proved herself courageous during the war; and no less now is she displaying courage of a high degree.

Knowing the pitfalls of socialism in Great Britain, and the hardships it has brought upon the people who should now be enjoying a measure of relief from wartime restrictions, Jennie Broad came to Fairfield, when she heard 'a woman was standing for Parliament to oppose Socialism'. Although Miss Broad belongs to no political party, she says that she has seen the ill-effects of Socialism on family life, and she felt it her duty to come to Fairfield, meet the family people, and warn them to shake Socialism from their backs before it is too late.' Miss Broad speaks from personal experience, and she says she will address any gathering of women who, want to know the facts about Socialism and how it affects working people."

One of the ATA Women


photo: 1937, aged 27

Mr Harry F J Broadbent

Australian record-breaker (solo round-Australia record in 1931), born 1910. Listed polo, tennis, golf and cricket among his other pastimes.

King's Cup in 1934, 1937

joan broadsmith 1939

Joan Irwin Broadsmith

b. 23 Jul 1917, Withington Chester but resident in the Isle of Wight.

Her father, Harry Edgar Broadsmith, was one of the original directors of Saunders-Roe.

joan broadsmith and adam karolyi

Adam Karolyi, right, with his girlfriend, Joan Broadsmith, in the cockpit of his plane. Adam was 21 when he died of his injuries after he crashed his plane in Sandown, just days before the Second World War started [actually G-AAAL belonging to the IOW Flying Club, on the 21 Aug, 1939]. He had planned to join the RAF.

[G-ABBX, in the photo above, also belonged to the Isle of Wight Flying Club].

Adam, 21, was flung from the wreckage but suffered 75 per cent burns and died in Shanklin Cottage Hospital the next day.

His girlfriend, Joan Broadsmith, daughter of Saunders Roe’s managing director Harry Broadsmith, was so traumatised by Adam’s death she doused herself in paraffin and set herself alight but survived. 

See http://www.iwcp.co.uk/news/wight-living/chale-plot-is-a-page-turner-31755.aspx

 joan broadsmith Empire Air Day 1939 1939

"Interested in aeroplanes since she was 14, and with Flying Officer brother in the R.A.F., Empire Air Day is bound to hold a special interest for Miss Joan Broadsmith, of Cowes, who is working at Lee Airport, Sandown, to secure her ground engineer's licence. Miss Broadsmith, who is 21, is a member of the Civil Air Guard."

Joan joined the ATA briefly in 1942, but did not progress beyond 'Cadet'.

d. 1993

One of the ATA Women

Harold Leslie Brook


b. 11 October 1897, in Bradford

Only learnt to fly in 1933, and just scraped up the minimum 100hrs solo flying time required to enter the Race. The aircraft was barely ready in time either; a month before the start it didn't have any seats, and was in "a very unfinished condition". Harold was not impressed by "those fools at Reading [i.e. Miles Aircraft]... this is not the first time they have omitted to do something".

In March 1934, he tried to break the England-Australia solo record (held by CWA Scott) but only got as far as the Cevennes before crashing into one of the large mountains they have there. To give him his due, he picked up the important bits of his aeroplane, brought them back and used the engine in this Miles Falcon.

In 1935, after taking part in the MacRobertson, he flew back from Australia in record time; you might like to see him talk about his record-breaking flight (on the other hand, you may have some drying paint that needs watching); if so, click here.

Two years later, he added the Cape Town record. Mercifully, there don't appear to be any interviews about this one. 

Pilot Officer in the Administrative and Special Duties Branch in May 1940.

And, despite what you may read or hear, was never an accountant in his life (although with his spectacles on, he did rather look like one, and when he talked, he did rather sound like one [sorry]), and he signed himself 'Brook', not 'Brooke'.

But 'e were definitely from 'Arrogate.

H. L. BROOK writes to TERRY'S

Dear Sirs,

I should like to take this opportunity of congratulating you on the excellence of your Springs in my Gipsy 6 Engine. In a record-breaking flight of this description the engine has to be run for long periods in extreme temperatures, and at a higher rate of revolutions than normal, and for a valve spring to break would spell disaster. I had never at any time any fear of this happening with your springs, and they are now at the end of the flight in just as good condition as they were at the start.

Yours faithfully,

(signed) H. L BROOK.


Racing No. 31—H. L. Brook, and —?


And speaking of Bradford, here is Harold Leslie Brook, who was born there in 1897, and now resides in Harrogate. He joined the Royal Field Artillery on August 20, 1914, at the age of 16, obtained his commission soon afterwards, and, despite a couple of wounds, served five years in France and India. Restored

to his family, he remained a normal civilian until Yorkshire began to build and fly sailplanes and gliders. These occupations kept him mildly diverted until the approach of his 37th birthday. Then he began to yearn for horse-power. The York County Aviation Club at Sherburn-in-Elmet offered a likely fulfilment of this secret ambition. So, in August, 1933, Brook placed himself in the hands of Instructor Cudemore, and after four hours' instruction became a soloist with serious designs on the MacRobertson Handicap, for which Phillips and Powis have built him the first of their Miles 'Falcons'.

What happened between last autumn and this spring is now almost historic. Brook bought the "Puss Moth" (Heart's Content) in which the Mollisons had crossed the Atlantic, and, with a total of 43 hr. in his logbook, pushed off solo from Lympne to survey the route to Melbourne. That was on March 28, 1934, at 5.20 a.m.

By noon the incident had closed. Describing it a few days later Brook said that, while flying through very dirty weather over France, he was forced down from 12,000 ft. by ice formation on the wings, and, before he knew how or why, the side of an unsuspected mountain was rushing up at him out of the murk. Guided by some uncanny sixth sense, he brought off a bloodless landing on the mountain proper. The scene of this epic of the air was Genolhac, in the Cevennes. With some local help he salvaged the "Gipsy Major," brought it back to England, and has had it installed in Heart's Content II.

Brook's next attempt on the Australian record will not be solo. If expectations are realised, he will be accompanied by two lady passengers.


Another England-Australia attempt

MR. H. L. BROOKE, a member of the York County Aviation Club, left Lympne at dawn on the morning of Wednesday, March 28, on an attempt to break the record for the England-Australia trip held by Sir Charles Kingsford-Smith with the time of 7 days 3 hours. Mr.Brooke was flying the " Puss Moth " (" Gipsy III ") Heart's Content, in which Mr. J. A. Mollison made an Atlantic crossing. A few hours after leaving Lympne, while flying through fog, he crashed in deep snow near Genholac, in the Cevennes. The machine was completely wrecked, but Mr. Brooke escaped with nothing worse than some bad bruises. For five hours he wandered about inthe mountains, and eventually found a small village, where he was given every attention. Later he returned to the wreck of his machine, and removed the instruments and other articles of value.

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1934/1934%20-%200338.html?search=york county aviation club

April 4, 1935


During March the York County Aviation Club, Ltd., flew 63 hours at Sherburn-in-Elmet, and Miss Maurice and Mr.Pilkington made first solos. Two machines flew to Nottingham for the club dance, and Mr. Humble, the honorary instructor, has presented the club with a fire tender—a very apposite gift! The next dance will be held on April 13.

Mr. H. L Brook, who has just broken the Australia-England record with a Miles " Falcon," was trained at Sherburn—which appears to be a pretty good advertisement for the instruction.

http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1935/1935%20-%200775.html?search=york county aviation club


These days, the home of Sherburn Aero Club: http://www.sherburn-aero-club.org.uk/


How H. L. Brook, in a " Gipsy "-engined Miles "Falcon" broke the Solo Record : His Story in an Interview with " Flight

"LAST Sunday afternoon, at 3.55 p.m., the original Miles" Falcon " landed at Lympne, having flown in 7 days•* 19 hr. 50 min. from Darwin, North Australia, withMr. H. L. Brook, of Harrogate, at the controls. The •pilot thus beat the unofficial " s o l o " record of Mr. C. J.Melrose by 13 hr. 10 min., and the officially recognisedperformance of Mr. J. A. Mollison by 1 day 2 hr. 25 min.The shortest time for the Australia-England trip is still,of course, the 6 days 16 hr. 10 min. of Cathcart Jones andWaller in a " C o m e t ."After leaving Darwin at 5.30 a.m. on Sunday, March 24(Australian time), Mr. Brook's time-table was as follows:—Sunday night, arrived Rambang ; Monday, Penang; Tuesday,Rangoon; Wednesday, Calcutta; Thursday, Karachi; Friday,Athens; Saturday, Rome; Sunday, Marseilles (9.25 a.m.) ;Lympne (3.55 p.m.).the Timor crossing, he told a member of the staff of Flight,was " r o t t e n , " with rain, low clouds and heavy head winds.On the trip from Penang he landed on the delta near Calcutta.Over the Sundarbans low clouds and darkness caused him totake this measure rather than to fly on, possibly missingCalcutta, and, as he put it, perhaps making a crash landingthrough shortage of petrol.Perhaps the worst section of the trip was that betweenAthens and Rome, particularly the portion over the channelof Corfu, where a gale was encountered. At Brindisi Mr.Brook was advised not to proceed, but he pushed on andcrossed the Apennines in a snowstorm.And what of the man himself? He is a thirty-eight-yearoldYorkshireman, who, despite the newspaper stories, hasnever been an accountant in his life. When he was youngerhe indulged in motor racing and later built a few sailplanesand gliders. Then he joined the York County Aviation Cluband went solo after four hours' instruction. He next boughtMr. J. A. Mollison's "Puss Moth" Heart's Content, and setout for Australia to survey the route to Melbourne, for he haddecided to enter the MacRobertson Handicap. But ice formationforced the " Puss Moth " down on a mountain side inthe Cevennes. Neither Brook nor the "Major" (which, itshould be remembered, had already been flown over the SouthAtlantic) was rendered hors de combat, however. The enginewas salvaged and Brook brought it back to England, where itwas installed in the first of the Miles " Falcons" which thenwas fitted with extra tanks for the race. During the event itcarried a lady passenger and a large helping of appalling

luck (no connection is suggested between the two facts!).Suffice it to say that the Australian trip, a large portion ofwhich was made in easy stages, took about twenty-six daysDuring his stay "down under," Brook worked until the" F a l c o n " and its engine were in tip-top condition beforestarting his almost unheralded flight.Of travelling in the "Falcon " he says that, compared withflying in an ordinary aeroplane with open cockpits, it was" like travelling in a saloon car instead of on a motor cycle. The veteran "Gipsy Major" was run throughout the flight at 2,100 r.p.m.


Imported specimen 107 Praga E.114 OK-PGC. Regd G-ADXL (CofR 6479) 27.11.35 to F Hills & Son Ltd; dd Speke to Barton 30.12.35. CofV 91 issued wef 27.2.36. Dd 20.4.36 to Harold Leslie Brook; flown by him to South Africa, departing England 6.5.36; arriving Cape Town 22.5.36. Regn cld 6.36 as sold. Regd ZS-AHL 6.36 to OG Davies, Cape Town. Sold 8.37 to H Cooper, Cape Town. Converted to glider at Youngsfield 9.53.


30th Aug. 1940.

The undermentioned are granted commissions
for the duration of hostilities as Pilot
Officers on probation:—
22nd May 1940.

Harold Leslie BROOKE, D.C.M. (84353).


MacRobertson Race in 1934


photo: 1917, when a Lieutenant in the Army Service Corps, aged 25

Capt Frank Crossley Griffiths Broome

Vickers test pilot - he and Stanley Cockerell (q.v.) were known as the 'Heavenly Twins'; Frank served under Stanley in WWI; when Frank married Miss Ismay Lermitte in Colchester in 1920, Capt. S. Cockerell, A.F.C., was best man.

He and CJQ Brand were in the same squadron in WWI.

In 1920 the Heavenly Twins were the pilots of the attempt, organised by The Times, to make the first flight from Cairo to the Cape. The Vimy Commercial aeroplane left Brooklands on January 24 but crashed at Tabora [Tanganyika] on February 27. They finally reached the Cape "after a series of undeserved misfortunes".


Frank Crossley Griffiths Broome - born in London (St Pancras) in 1892. He enlisted in the Army Service Corps. Won DFC, and AFC. Youngest son of Frank Broome, and lived at Winterbourne, Weybridge. He married Ismay Lermitte, daughter of Lt Col Lermitte (deceased) of Woodhouse, Great Horkesley at All Saints Church on August 17th 1920.

At the wedding ceremony, the cake was adorned with the silver Vickers Vimy, which had been presented to him by The Times newspaper, to commemorate his 1920 Africa flight (in Silver Queen II) The purpose was to test the feasibility of the Cape to Cairo route, and was sponsored by the newspaper. The plane crashed, and it sounds as though the expedition was an arduous one.

Later the same crew of Captain Cockerell, Captain Broome and ex Sgt Major James Wyatt crashed in a seaplane in March 15th 1922, about four miles from Hastings.

Broome also flew with 112 Sqn, based at Throwley. On the night of 19/20 May 1918, he was one of dozens of pilots that took off against a wave of Gothas and Giants which attacked the UK. Broome didn't see them, but fellow sqn pilot CJQ Brand bagged a Gotha that night.
King's Cup in 1922

RAeC, 1934

gabrielle patterson and grace brown fp

r, with Gabrielle Patterson, in 1940

(Forgotten Pilots)

Grace Brown 


b. 2 February 1897 in Pieter Martizburg South Africa

 "Mrs. Grace Brown flew for Air Dispatch (Mrs Victor Bruce's airline)".

Grace Brown was an early recruit for the Air Transport Auxiliary (ATA) in May 1940 but soon had to discontinue ferrying due to "getting into a poor state of health" - a confidential note some two years later says that 'between ourselves, a little elbow-lifting was attached to it'. [I have no real idea what this means, unless it implies a drink problem].

She asked for 3 months unpaid leave, on the understanding that ATA could offer to continue with her services at the end of it. In the event, when she started back in December, she wrecked the port undercarriage leg of an Airspeed Oxford by selecting 'Undercarriage Up' instead of 'Flaps Up' after landing, and was promptly dismissed.

One of the ATA Women

Capt Harry Albert Brown

'Sam', the amiable ex-instructor for the Lancashire Aero Club; joined Avro after WWI and became their chief test pilot from 1928. From 1921-26 he was Avro's man in the Spanish Naval Air Service.

Badly injured in 1929 when the first Avocet crashed at Woodford.

 King's Cup in 1932

photo: 1927, aged 28

Miss Winifred Sawley Brown

b. 26 November 1899 in Brooklands, Cheshire; her father was director of a firm of butchers.

She said she learnt to roll her own cigarettes at the age of five; expelled from school at age fourteen (for writing 'the headmistress can go to hell' on the toilet wall), she made her first flight in 1919 from Blackpool sands.

First woman to win the King’s Cup (in 1930); well known in Lancashire as a hockey player who kept goal for the county and toured Australia with an English team; also a pretty good golfer, sailor and tennis player.

To see her being thoroughly embarrassed by her reception back at the Lancs Aero Club after winning the King's Cup, and to hear her say “Thank you for this welcome, it’s awfully good of you and I’m awfully happy to be back again in Lancashire, at the aerodrome where Captain Brown taught me to fly…. I’m delighted to have won the race and, well, thank you all very very much, I can’t say any more”, see here

Her son, Tony, b. 11 December 1940 in Angelsey, is "loved and remembered by millions as slippery Adam Chance in Crossroads".

She owned:

the 1928 Avro 594 Avian III, G-EBVZ - which her father bought for £500 - in which she won the King's Cup in 1930, then

a 1930 Avro 616 Sports Avian, G-ABED.

'Win' died in July 1984 in Hove, Sussex.


And you can now get a proper biography, entitled "WINIFRED BROWN: Britain's Adventure Girl No. 1", written by King's Lynn's most famous living author, Geoff Meggitt.

See www.pitchpole.co.uk for details!


b 26 November 1899 in Brooklands, Cheshire; her father was director of a firm of butchers.

Learnt to fly in 1926, but in 1928 was the pilot in a horrific accident when she was duped into a publicity stunt by Walter Browning, the 'Dancing Airman', who told her a film had to be delivered urgently, and persuaded to land her Avian in a field. She was surprised to see a crowd of people, realised she wasn't going to stop in time and tried to take off again, but hit the crowd standing near a wall; a 10-year old boy was killed, several persons injured, and "many women fainted". It turned out that the 'urgent film' never existed, just an empty box. She was exonerated of any blame.

First woman to win the King’s Cup, in 1930. She became an instant star across the world, especially in her home city of Salford. Invited to the 1930 Historical Pageant at Buile Hill Park shortly after the race, crowds chanted for a speech to be made. Winifred said “This is really wonderful of you all, I am very glad to belong to Salford” which prompted one audience member to start a sing along of ‘for she’s a jolly good flyer’. The Mayor of Salford congratulated Winifred on behalf of the people, and joked “No man begrudges you your honour and you have put us all back in our place”.

Before the Race, she was "well known in Lancashire as a hockey player who keeps goal for the county and has toured Australia with an English team".

One of the guests of honour at the Ladies Night dinner of the Press Club in December 1930; the chairman reckoned that "Women had forced their way into the columns of the Press, and now they seemed to be on the way to monopolizing them".

She was still an active ice hockey player in 1933, flying herself from Manchester to London to take part in the Sheridan Cup, where she kept goal for the "Queen's Ladies". She was also a pretty good golfer; she and her partner Mrs Brooks got to the last 8 of the Ladies' Northern Foursomes at Leeds in 1938.

Later sailed from North Wales to Spitsbergen in her 45-foot yawl Perula. During WWII, Chief Coxswain in the Marine Department of Saunders Roe.

In 1940 she gave birth to a son, Anthony, after it was revealed she had "secretly married her long time adventure companion Ron Adams" (although I'm not sure what was so secret about it).

She attended the 1950 King's Cup Race, but was "horrified  ... I thought sadly of Bert Hinkler, Cobham, Barnard, Hubert Broad and Wally Hope."

'Win' died in July 1984 in Hove, Sussex.

Winifred Brown was born [26 November] 1899 in Brooklands, Cheshire. She moved to Salford at an early age and went on to attend ‘Bella Vista’, Broughton High School for Girls. Winifred’s father, Mr Sawley Brown, was director of Messrs. James S. Brown & Sons, a firm of butchers.

Winifred was a natural sportswoman, and achieved great success in flying when she became the first woman to join the Lancashire Aero Club in 1926 and the first woman in the region to qualify for a pilot’s licence in April 1927. By March 1928 Winifred was recruited to the rank of a private owner member, and that same year she won the club’s Rodman Trophy.

By the 1930 King’s Cup Air Race, a 750mile race around England, Winifred Brown was an experienced pilot, although she had never flown such a long distance. In the pre-race articles that appeared in Flight magazine, on June 13 1930,Winifred’s entry was not taken seriously, mentioned with six other pilots of the ‘fairer sex’ only briefly. Winifred flew an Avro Avian with a Cirrus III engine with her co-pilot, and later husband, John Ron Adams. The Air Race was full of excitement, after starting the race at Hanworth, London. By the time she reached Barton Aerodrome, Winifred was in third position and the large crowds roared with excitement. The final finish was at Newcastle, by which time she’d run away with the lead. There was a dramatic finish when Winifred spotted a large aircraft behind them. Believing it to be a competitor and determined not to be beaten to the finish line, the Avian was pushed to speeds of 160 miles per hour! Afterwards a mechanic told the Salford Reporter that this speed ‘was courting disaster’. By pushing her Avian to the limits Winifred beat her male contemporaries, including Flight Lieutenant Waghorn, winner of the prestigious Schneider Cup.

As the first woman to win the King’s Cup, Winifred became an instant star across the world, especially in her home city of Salford. Invited to the 1930 Historical Pageant at Buile Hill Park shortly after the race, crowds chanted for a speech to be made. Winifred said “This is really wonderful of you all, I am very glad to belong to Salford” which prompted one audience member to start a sing along of ‘for she’s a jolly good flyer’. The Mayor of Salford, Samuel Finburgh, congratulated Winifred on behalf of the people, and joked “No man begrudges you your honour and you have put us all back in our place”(Salford Reporter 11 July 1930).

Winifred’s later adventures in the 1930s went beyond Britain, this time sailing rather than flying from North Wales to Spitsbergen in her 45-foot yawl Perula. During the Second World War, Winifred worked as Chief Coxswain in the Marine Department of Saunders Roe, the flying boat constructors in Beaumaris. Winifred worked with a fleet of R.A.F. craft with all-male crews, she met Catalinas from Bermuda, landed and embarked crews and towed aircraft.

In 1940 she gave birth to a son, Anthony Sawley Adams, after it was revealed she had secretly married her long time adventure companion Ron Adams.

With thanks to John B. Coxon and Tony Adams


In 1950, Winnie wrote this lovely article for 'Flight':

POST-WAR AIR RACING - is Something Missing?

A Pre-war Winner Asks Some Pertinent Questions


As something "rather different" in post-war air races, the Daily Express  "International South Coast Race" on September 16th seems likely to be watched with interest, especially by "the forgotten pioneers of long ago" - in which category a South African magazine recently included me!

For some time we have been asking ourselves " What has gone wrong - air racing or we old pilots?" Has the sport really lost its thrill and popularity, or have we merely become the club bores who stand at a bar counter and say, between beers, "Things aren't what they were"?

I have been thinking about these questions for several weeks - ever since, in fact, I set off, in excited anticipation and an Austin Seven - to see this year's King's Cup Race. The Wolverhampton Aero Club had very kindly invited me - "Just to show them you are still in the land of the living, Win?" chuckled John Bill over the telephone, for the previous year the B.B.C. had coupled my name with the type of wings that go with a harp! It was 20 years since I had won the King's Cup and 19 years since I have even seen an air race. I had a shock coming to me!

When asked if I were flying, I laughed and replied ungrammatically, "What, me! I'm used to 105 m.p.h.,not 501." And as my little car proceeded at a sedate 40m.p.h. my mind went back 20 years. Who would be there? Tommy Rose, Jimmy Jeffs, Robin Cazalet, "Lamps"? What fun it would be to see them all again!

On arrival at the Star and Garter I rushed to look at the hotel register... I didn't recognize a single name! They must still be in the bar... we had always lingered... they would come later; so, casting respectability to the wind, I ignored my married name and wrote " Win Brown and son."

That night there was a R.A.F.A. dance - to meet the "famous pilots"! The dancing was popular enough, but we were not; when we went on the stage the room practically emptied - the dancers had probably done far more flying than we had!

Still there was a nice bar upstairs, and I talked with interest to the 1950 pilots. "Do you have flying pageants these days?" I asked a young man. For a moment he looked puzzled, then replied "Yes, but we call them 'air rallies'". When I flew in 1930 we had a 750-mile course. Do you like these short circuits? " "Oh yes! It's a better test of flying—none of this navigation stuff enters into it. '

I thought sadly of Bert Hinkler, Cobham, Barnard, Hubert Broad and Wally Hope. That night I went to bed at 11.30 - if there was a party I didn't find it!

Next day I got to the airfield early. I looked and blinked. Was I back in 1930? Where were these modern super aircraft? I felt I could have got into almost any one of the competing machines, and flown as I used to do; but my son, aged nine, was thrilled as I took him round. It was then the Press descended on us - "That's right,sonny - smile up at your grannie!'' My expression was such that the pictures did not appear, but fortunately the bar tent opened and Jack Cantrill, who had given me my first flying lesson in 1925, assisted me to recover.

Then a few old faces appeared, but we all sadly agreed that "things ain't wot they was." As for the race itself - well, it sounded fine on the radio but, with no rudeness intended, I would not describe Hawk Trainers and Austers "screaming" round anything. Princess Margaret's Hurricane gave us a thrill and it was beautifully handled by Townsend, but the two Spits that I hadrelied on to impress my son promptly took off and got lost - so perhaps there is something in this ''navigation stuff" after all! One we never saw again, but the other obligingly returned, much to the delight of my small son, and the spectators - but probably less so to the owner of the aircraft whose tail it knocked clean off.

But what horrifies me about this race - and, for that matter, present-day air racing in general - is that the slide-rule experts, secreted with Charles Gardiner in glass towers, seem reasonably able to forecast the result after one lap! In the King's Cup they were about 60 yards out, and in the two Newcastle races a few weeks later it seems from Flight's report that the ultimate winners appeared unbeatable almost from the outset.

Where is the sport, the fight, the fun of the thing? It seems to me that if you haven't beaten the handicappers before you start you might just as well stay in the bar. On a long circuit a race was never lost until it was won. Engines could pack up in sight of home; flimsy racing wheels could buckle on a careless landing; you might run into cloud or fog and fail to find that white cross in the field; but no matter what happened there was always home - the others might be faring worse. To beat the handicappers was a decided help, but only the beginning of a long story.

After this year's King's Cup I scanned the newspapers, but gone were the old headlines. The little publicity there was went to the tragic accident rather than to Edward Day. I wondered vaguely if a victory for Princess Margaret would have received more publicity, but I doubt it - my papers were full of the footballers who received a free trip to South America, £25 each and the offer of some £175 a month, and returned highly incensed because a hair-cut cost 7s and the people carried rifles!

So good for British prestige, and obviously so much more important than a few men and women who risk their neck for British aviation, a possible prize of £150 and a replica of the Cup. I did risk my neck for about £1,000 in 1930, and in those days the cup was won outright.

What has caused this lack of interest on the part of the Press and public? Has flying become too common? But, for that matter, what could be more common than football and race-horses, sports which still hold the crowds? Perhaps it is the effect of the war - petrol only just off the ration, money short, private owners and aero clubs unable to afford the high-powered aircraft we now scarcely glance at as they do, literally, scream through the sky.

Presumably with the industry in a transition stage pending large-scale production of military jet aircraft, and because of present-day-economic conditions, the trade cannot give the support it did to racing. For this reason one must admire the present-day private owner. Gone are the days of dual at £1 an hour, free petrol, a loaned engine, and perhaps even a free aircraft. To-day one can hardly afford to patronize the bar tent!

My small son was all for presenting the King's Cup to Cole and his Comper Swift. ''That little one has done best, Win - t has gone all that way against the big ones." Out of the mouths of babes and sucklings.... Would the old Circuit of Britain again arouse public interest? Personally, I think it would. Some 15,000 people were present at Wolverhampton this year, but in 1930 similar, if not larger, crowds assembled at each of the controls at London, Bristol, Manchester, Newcastle and Hull, not to mention the turning-points at Southampton, Birmingham,Liverpool, Leeds and Leicester. The King's Cup race belonged to the country as a whole and not just to one area.

But there is another point, and an important one. The rot started to set in way back in 1931, when new King's Cup regulations caused the entries to drop from 101 to 41. Restrictions! They are ruining our country to-day. It seems to be that the South Coast Race is, in some degree, a return to old conditions, and that if it is successful it may influence next year's King's Cup. I hope so, for personally I would like to see a grand and glorious free for all - Maggies to Meteors on the old circuit of Britain.

''What else would you do, Win?" asked one of the old timers as we stood discussing the matter in the bar. "I'd have bookies under nice, coloured umbrellas - but I'd keep them away from the slide-rule experts!" And I suppose you'd have better prizes and bigger bar tents? "Sure!" I laughed. "Well," said an old pilot, slowly, "something has got to be done; the King's Cup to-day is no different to the little races we used to take part in every Saturday at the old pageants." "Rallies, dear, rallies," I corrected.

So we all had another beer, and my small son, waiting outside, began to take a dim view of aviation.


King's Cup in 1930, 1931, 1932

photo: 1930

Flt-Lt T B Bruce

King's Cup in 1929, 1930

Mildred Mary Bruce in 1930

The Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce

b. Mildred Petre on 10 November 1895 in Chelmsford, and married the Hon Victor Bruce in 1926 (although they divorced in 1941).

Raced motor cars, speedboats and aeroplanes, and became a millionaire in her own right through her business interests.

In 1927, published her 'lively holiday narrative' called 'Nine thousand miles in eight weeks' about her journey by motor-car from John o'Groats through England, France, Italy, Spain, Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia. [51 photographs, 12/6d net.]

She then did 6,000 miles in Sweden and the Arctic, and drove from Cairo to Cape Town, but was fined 10 shillings for careless driving when she got back to London. She ignored a policeman's signal and got in the way of other traffic; the officer was of the opinion that she "shouldn't be in charge of a car". She was also probably the first woman ever arrested for speeding.

She then set the record for a double crossing of the English Channel in 1928, getting to Calais and back to Dover in 1hr 47min in a speedboat.

Two months after getting her RAeC Certificate, having only flown 40 hours or so and having had 5 lessons in navigation, she flew solo round the world in her Bluebird IV G-ABDS in 1930-1 (although she sensibly went across the Pacific and Atlantic by ship), and then  tried to fly to Cape Town in an autogyro in 1934, but only got as far as France.

To see the (silent, unfortunately) video of her starting her round-the-world trip and getting a goodbye kiss from (I think we must assume) the Hon Victor Bruce  -  click here.

[One of the Bluebird's engineers reckoned that G-ABDS stood for 'A Bloody Daft Stunt'].

And to hear her speak, see the latter half of this video here.

Founder and joint managing director of Air Dispatch Ltd from 1934, which carried freight and passengers between London and Paris using D.H. Dragonflies.

She owned, at various times:

  • a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-AAZO which was taken over by the RAF in 1940 but 'hit a tarsprayer' in June 1941;
  • a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-ABDG (scrapped in 1943);
  • the 1930 Blackburn L.1C Bluebird IV, G-ABDS, in which she performed 'A Bloody Daft Stunt' in 1930-1 of flying solo round the world;
  • a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth, G-ABGS, which she bought from Emma Bettina Elizabeth Amy Malcolm;
  • a 1931 Blackburn L.1C Bluebird IV, G-ABMI;
  • a Bristol F.2B Fighter, formerly J8258, registerd G-ABXA in 1932;
  • a 1933 DH.84 Dragon, G-ACDL, and
  • a 1933 DH.60X Moth, G-ACMB.

d. 21 May 1990 aged 94; her ashes were scattered in Golders Green Crematorium

Mr M Brunton

King's Cup in 1929

Mr John Reginald Bryans

b. 16 Jun 1906 in Kent, a Naval Officer

Royal Navy Sub-Lt in 1928, Lt in 1929, and a (not very successful) amateur tennis player.

Left the Navy and married Dame Anne Margaret Gilmour, daughter of Sir John Gilmour, in 1932.

A Director of British Continental Airways in 1936; they operated a service between Liverpool, Doncaster and Amsterdam, and from London to Stockholm.

Resigned from the board of British Airways, rejoined the Navy and was promoted to Lt-Cmdr(Emergency) in October 1937.

Later, Chairman and MD of Bryans of Mitcham, Surrey; in 1962 he wrote to The Times: "As an exporter, I humbly submit it is high time everyone stopped talking about a fair basis for British industry to export, and got down to some action".

From 1964, a Director of Seltronic Group.

d. Jul 1990 in London

Aerial Tour in 1930

Mr James Brian Buckley DSC

b. 1905. Royal Navy Service Pilot, attached to HMS Courageous in 1930.

Killed in WWII: 21st March 1943, when Lieut-Commander, RN on HMS Glorious; buried at Lee-on-Solent.

King's Cup in 1930

Mrs Winnie Buller

b. Norfolk but got her aviator's certificate from the French F.A.I. (No 848) in May 1912

by which time I trust her hair was dry, although she seems to have forgotten to plug it in.

photo: 1917, when a 2nd Lieutenant in the RFC

seated in a prototype Hurricane c.1946

George Bulman

Maj (later Flt-Lt) Paul Ward Spencer Bulman CBE MC AFC

Universally known as 'George'; after WWI, test pilot at RAE Farnborough until 1925, then chief test pilot at Hawker Aircraft, where he took over from 'Fred' Raynham.

It was at his instigation that the Hurricane was fitted with a variable-pitch propeller, "The improvement in performance was so impressive that the result was a panic of refitting of airscrews, and the effect on the outcome of the Battle of Britain can be imagined."

Harald Penrose said he was "a great little man, eager yet cool, eyes crinkled in a smile, bald head gleaming as he climbed helmetless into the cockpit".



Flight, 4th April 1946

Britain's Test Pilots

“GEORGE” BULMAN might never have been known in the aircraft industry had he continued at his original occupation. In fact, he would have been more nationalized than he is now, because he started his business career in the Bank of England. Perhaps that is where he got his meticulous attention to detail.

Group Capt. Bulman is seldom known by his proper Christian name Paul, and it is interesting to learn how he ever came to be known universally as "George." He always confessed to a shocking memory for names, and during the 1914-18 war addressed almost everyone as "Colonel" or "General." When peace came, a civil edition had to be found, and his friends and acquaintances became Georges. They, in their turn, called him "George" Bulman.

A little more than a year before the Royal Flying Corps became the Royal Air Force in April, 1918, Bulman learnt to fly on a "Rumpety" (Maurice Farman Longhorn) of No. 4 Reserve Squadron at Northolt. Previous to this he had been in the Honourable Artillery Company, but was dead keen to become a motor cyclist despatch rider. A motor-cycling friend, however, managed to persuade him that flying was the thing really worth doing, and got him transferred to the R.F.C.

After his training, "George” was with fighters exclusively. First in No. 46 Squadron under Major (now Air Marshal, retired) Philip Babington, flying Sopwith Pups and then with No. 3 Squadron, when it changed over to Sopwith Camels. He went to No. 3 as a fighter expert, and in the fighting at Courtrai these tiny Camels—carrying four 20lb bombs each—operated with the tanks. This was the birth of the operations by Typhoons, the direct descendants of the Camel, in the Falaise Gap in the Battle of Normandy nearly 30 years later. It is impossible to get Bulman to talk about his deeds in the 1914-18 war. He was heard to let it slip on one unguarded occasion that he was a bloodthirsty young man, but farther than that he never goes. Asking how many enemy aircraft he got to his credit always brings the same answer: ''We flew as a Flight, and did no individual operations. All victories belonged to the Flight.” Nevertheless, he was awarded the Military Cross for his share.

First Test Work

At the close of hostilities in1918 he was granted a permanent commission, and almost immediately took up his first test flying. He was posted to the Daimler airfield at Radford, where Sopwith Snipes and S.E.5AS were produced, and shortly afterwards went to the ferry pool in the Midlands at Castle Bromwich. Here experience on twin-engined types was gained as the unit had to test and ferry D.H.10s (made by the Birmingham Carriage Co.) and Handley Page 0/400s.

It was because of his work here that he came to take up test flying as a permanent occupation. There happened to be a number of one-engined failures on the D.H.10s which had caused some loss of life among the ferry pilots. "Farnborough“ was investigating the trouble, and "George" took one to Farnborough to replace a crash. He had found the trouble in the petrol system, and the outcome of a talk on this with Roderic Hill (now Air Marshal Sir Roderic) resulted in an invitation to join Farnborough. That was in 1919.

His test flying at the R.A.F. dealt exclusively with engines, and the period between 1919 and 1925 proved to be a fascinating one ; as he puts it,'' ironing out the bugs of the air cooled radial engine." The team with whom he worked took the radial out into the world.

While at Farnborough he did a certain amount of testing for Blackburns, and, among other types, flew the Cubaroo, Blackburn, Beagle and Airedale. In view of the development to-day in helicopters, it is interesting to remember that 20 years ago, at Farnborough, he flew the Brennan helicopter, which had all the basic elements of the successful modern types. It was flown while partially moored in the old balloon shed.

About 1924 there came into existence the R.A.E. Aero Club, of which Oliver Simmonds (now Sir Oliver of Aerocessories) was the secretary, Mr Child the designer, and Bulman the chairman and competition pilot. A monoplane—the Hurricane—with triangular-section fuselage, was built by the members and fitted with a horizontally opposed engine, first a 600 c.c. Douglas motorcycle engine and later a 30 h.p. Bristol Cherub. This contraption nearly wrote "George" off. Vibration from the twin-cylinder engine was prone to shut the petrol off because the cock employed was one of the very ordinary "slide with a hole in it" models common to motor bicycles. This cock was under the dash and was critical of its setting. Imagine, then, the juggling required when the engine and airscrew stopped dead at 800ft. over Redhill while flying from Farnborough to Lympne for the competitions. He had to dive nearly vertically to get sufficient airspeed to force the engine over compression—no small task with a two-cylinder engine—and at the same time search under the dashboard for the petrol cock. The engine picked up with no height to spare.

Display Flying

Pilots who could fly as exquisitely as Bulman were very much in demand for the Royal Air Displays, which were then held on the last Saturday in June each year. Since he was already doing odd jobs for Hawkers, and was thes ervice pilot deputed to fly the Hawker Woodcock in 1924,it was natural that he and the Hawker people became well acquainted, with the result that in 1925 he resigned his commission and joined the company. The Horsley was being flown at the time, and Bulman took over the Mark I from Fred Raynham who was one of the very old stagers. Raynham was, I think, the only man who ever had a joystick break off in his hand and have to land the machine (a Handley Page monoplane) by the small socket at the base, letting go every second or so to look over the side to see where he was going. "George" did all the test flying on the Horsley II, including preparing it for thel ong-distance record, which it held for a few hours in 1927 by flying from Cranwell to Jask in the Persian Gulf. It was beaten the next day by Lindbergh flying from NewYork to Paris. If any pilot to-day thinks he is flying an overloaded aircraft let him remember that when the Horsley was filled with fuel ready for the record, it burst its tyres just standing on the tarmac!

Starting with the Heron and Hornbill, Bulman was responsible for test-flying all the Hawker prototypes right up to and including the Hurricane. The Fury (biplane) and Hart days were the days he loved. He worked like a Trojan turning good designs into super-good flying aircraft. This good test-flying, allied to his technical knowledge and charm of manner, undoubtedly played a big part in bringing the Hawker concern to the pre-eminence which it now enjoys.

Having got Philip Lucas to take on development flying of types later than the Hurricane, Bulman went to the U.S. in May, 1941, as Chief of the Test Branch of the British Air Commission. He had a team of 10 or 11 pilots with him, and they flew all the types of aircraft on order for the British Government, making out flight-test reports on the Boscombe Down pattern. At first this was a civilian job, but after America came into the war he wore uniform and was promoted to Group Captain.

Compressibility Recognised

It was whilst he was in America that Bulman realised that the peculiar happenings which test pilots were reporting were just what the scientists had foretold would happen when speeds in the region of that of sound were approached. Much experimental work was carried out on the Lockheed Lightning, and Bulman devised a method of flying whereby the effects could be intensified or diminished safely and at will. His notes to test pilots on the subject show a clear-cut appreciation of the problem, and he probably has more practical knowledge on the subject than anyone else.

According to Bulman, his test pilot's life was almost devoid of incident—certainly he was always careful to study everything on the ground before taking off—but he has had one or two close shaves. For instance, when he was flying the Leopard-engined Horsley to Denmark, he had a con-rod break over Heligoland. Landing in Germany was forbidden. So, finding that the engine would run at full throttle (imagine the vibration and racket) he flew to Groningen in Holland and landed there. The inside of that engine was a marvel to behold!

And here is a story told for the first time. I have had it filed away in a drawer for years. At a Household Brigade Club meeting at Hatfield "George" put up a remarkable show. To the spectators it appeared as if he climbed vertically to 3,500ft, stopped his airscrew and then, flicking into a vertical dive, regained his engine as he pulled out at no feet. What really happened was that he accidentally gave the Hart a little negative g at the top of the climb and this emptied the Kestrel's carburettor. From the wealth of his experience he remembered that an airscrew will start in a pull-out at 3 or 4g even when it refuses to do so in a straight dive.

After twenty years' service with the Hawker Company, he gave up the directorship which he had held since 1936, and is now taking a well-earned rest before coming back into the industry. But before leaving '' George '' to sit back for a while, let me quote one more case of how an enthusiastic man can get done a job which has far-reaching results. In 1938 all the Hurricanes had fixed-pitch airscrews, and no official sanction could be got for anything else. Bulman scrounged a Hurricane off contract and got de Havillands to collaborate by putting in a two-speed airscrew. He then borrowed a c.s. governor from the Hamilton Standard Corporation in America. The improvement in performance was so impressive that the result was a panic of refitting of airscrews, and the effect on the outcome of the Battle of Britain can be imagined.

King's Cup in 1925, 1927, 1933


Mary Bertha de Bunsen in 1932, aged 22.

Mary was born 29 May 1910 in Madrid, the daughter of Sir Maurice, the British Ambassador there.

She had been dragged round dances and hunt balls by her parents in the hope of finding her a suitable husband - these were, of course, in short supply after the carnage of WWI. "I was far too innocent to realise... that with a lame leg [after a childhood attack of polio] and horn-rimmed glasses I stood no chance whatever". 

She famously served in the ATA in WWII, though, despite these physical challenges.

She never married, and died in 1982 in Dorset.

One of the ATA Women


photo: 1921, aged 23

Mr Alan Samuel Butler J.P.

Chairman of de Havilland; the story goes that in 1921 he asked the one-year old de Havilland Aircraft Company to build a fast two-passenger touring aeroplane to his specification, and stumped up £3,000 for them to do it. The money saved the company from extinction and they appointed him to the board of directors forthwith. He held the position until he retired in 1950.

The aeroplane became the DH37, (which he named, firstly, 'Sylvia' after his sister, then, rather diplomatically, 'Lois', after his wife), which he entered in the very first King's Cup Race in 1922 and again in 1924, coming third.

He and Lois set up a world speed record of 120mph for 1000 km in 1928, and they also flew to Cape Town together .

Entered the MacRobertson Race in 1934 (assigned No 59) but didn't take part.

Was still aviating in 1970.

King's Cup in 1922, 1924, 1926, 1927, 1928, 1929, 1930

photo: 1935, aged 20

Mr Francis Charles Joseph Butler

From Faringdon, Berks. Also liked yachting.

Killed in WWII: 19th June 1940 when a Pilot Officer, RAFVR with 9 Sqn, commemorated at the Runnymede Memorial (i.e. no known grave)

King's Cup in 1937

Mrs Lois Butler

b. 3 Nov 1897 in Montreal, Canada; the "beautiful" [so said Harald Penrose] wife of Alan Butler.

Née Reid. (later, the 'Flying Grandmother', oh well...)

Her first husband having died in 1923, she married Alan Butler in 1925; together they had a daughter and a son.

15th in the Women’s Combined Alpine Skiing at the 1936 Winter Olympics, skating for her native Canada (although she was a member of the British Team before that).

An ATA pilot in WWII, eventually flying more than 1000 hours in 36 types of aircraft. Post-WWII, the Butlers moved to Rhodesia and bought a tobacco farm, but eventually moved back to Studham Hall, Bedfordshire.

She owned a 1930 DH.80A Puss Moth G-ABGX, which was sold in France in December 1934, re-registered as F-AMRX and whose registration was finally cancelled in 1936.

d. 17 Aug 1970 in Piraeus, Attiki, Greece from a heart attack while on holiday, and is buried in Studham.

King's Cup in 1929, 1930, 1933

One of the ATA Women


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