A Fleeting Peace

Golden-Age Aviation in the British Empire

For some years after WWI, there was a reasonable (if somewhat precarious) living to be made by offering the general public 'joy-rides'.

And very popular they were too, for a while; in September 1921 Capt A F Muir (of Surrey Flying Services) said that, so far that year, he had taken up over 7,000 people, and the scarlet Avro 504K G-EBIZ owned by Messrs Hill and (Capt Percy) Phillips carried 91,000 passengers between 1924 and 1935.

It seemed that anyone who could afford an ex-RAF Avro 504 could set up as an individual or a company, and try their luck.


Capt 'Jerry' Shaw with two little girl passengers whom he took up in his golden D.H.60 Gipsy Moth G-EBQE 'Arom' at Lympne in April 1928


There was an initial 'joy-riding boom' period in England from May 1919 to March 1920; during this time, 66,785 passengers flying 'for hire or reward' (almost all of them joy-riding) were carried. Over 50 companies set up business, but the slump of 1921 put an end to easy money, and to most of these companies.

In Australia, things were even more relaxed; up until November, 1920, when the Air Navigation Act was passed, pilots were free to run joy-riding concerns quite unhampered by C. of A. restrictions, or any other restrictions for that matter: "A number of unpleasant crashes was the not unnatural result."

By October 1925, joy-riding still accounted for the majority of flying in England - 43,766 passengers, more than 3 times as many as the scheduled airlines - and the following year a new record was set, with 67,329 passengers.

By 1928 the newly-established flying clubs were taking over most of the day-to-day work of offering joy-rides, but even so in 1930 there were still 12 companies offering 'joy-riding' in England; Australia had 6, and Canada 16.

October 1930: "Great Britain shows a steady and nearly uniform growth for the past few years and reaches a total of nearly 3,700,000 miles in 1929, of which, roughly, 1,200,000 is on regular air routes.
Australia, starting with less than one-third of the British mileage in 1922, had practically equalled it by 1929, reaching a total of nearly 3,500,000 miles, of which 478,000 was on
regular air routes.
Canada, with less than 200,000 in 1923, did not pass Great Britain's total until 1928, but nearly doubled it last year, reaching a total of 6,284,000 miles, of which 491,000 was on
regular air mail routes alone."

By the mid-thirties, though still popular, 'taxi, school and joy-riding' companies accounted for rather less than 25% of aeroplane ownership.

June 1936: "A REAL OPPORTUNITY The best position on the South Coast for 'joy-riding' is for sale as a going concern. Includes machine, field (rent paid until October), motor car, and all printing and bill-posting. Pilot and ground engineer available. "


February 1932: "Although joy-riding is, and has been, the only branch that can show a profit, it unfortunately created a table of false values for this reason. There were pilots, for instance, last year 'on tour' with joy-riding 'circuses,' who were receiving extremely good salaries. In addition to which they received a commission and their expenses. Of course, they stayed at the Grand or the 'Majestic,' made going to bed well under the surface a matter of duty, and generally putting out the boat on a pretty hefty scale. And this isn't romance, it's reality. There are certain people connected with operating companies to-day, unfortunately, who are under the impression that aviation is Nature's excuse for having a good time. Just look back into the history of joy-riding in this country, and what does one see?

The whole of its field is littered with wrecks of "Aviation" firms. Wrecked for the most part by rank rotten management, and spendthrift policies. The whole trouble has been that the majority of these firms have been inefficiently run by men with little or no business experience. They operated in the blissful belief that "the weather to-morrow will be O.K.," and spent their takings up to the limit. An error of judgment and a write off, or a spell of dud weather, and there was another joy-riding company up a gum tree. Few people can realise how precariously some of these firms exist, and what a struggle it is to see the winter through. Ask some of their engineers and pilots who are given holidays, sometimes lasting from September until the next March ! Do we have to look far to see evidence of this? We do not. A great many of these people " live on the posh " during flying days, and then in the fall and 'til the next spring eke out an existence on bread and jam! Who wouldn't be an airman?"

April 1935: "with a public that has, for the most part, become inured to the sight of mere flying, or even of aerobatic flying, a modern team of display pilots must be beyond criticism, and a modern display must rival, if in miniature, the great show at Hendon. Furthermore, Sir Alan Cobham's display, designed as it is to encourage people to use the air,
must blend the spectacular with the commonplace so that the "circus" element is not too dominant."

April 1936: "There is no doubt that the opening flying display of the year showed a number of distinctly new possibilities. Not only are the joy-riding rates lower, probably, than they have ever been before, so that more people will be encouraged to discover that there is really nothing very terrifying about this flying business, but the general public is also being shown at least a few types uhkh might eventually appeal to them as private owners, flying lessons are being given and scholarships are being awarded to those newcomers who show the greatest aptitude."

December 1937: "Within the past two years, however, the novelty has  worn off the circuses and receipts from this source have dropped considerably."


A.V. Roe & Co. Ltd

Based in Blackpool, Southport, Manchester, Fleetwood, Morecambe, Waterloo Sands (Liverpool), Rhyl, Douglas and Windermere; Hounslow 1919-21

1919: "Three Avro pilots have been kept busy all the week. Members of Rhyl Council have led the way in flying."

"The Avro Northern Stations have now taken up 20,000 passengers, a most remarkable figure. Preston has been licensed, and it is hoped that active operations will soon be undertaken there. A 'travelling circus' has now been established, which will tour various towns in turn, spending a few days at each, to give demonstrations and take up passengers. The dates arranged so far are:— Barmouth: September 15 to 20; Nottingham: September 22 to 24, and Derby: October 6 to 11."

November 1926: "Mr. Brown was the leading pilot of the Avro joy-ride company in the years immediately following the war. For the last five years he has been the chief instructor at Barcelona".


- Lt Macrae MC

- Harold Hamersley

- Walter G R Hinchliffe

- Mr Shanks

- Capt H A Brown

- Capt F G M Sparks

- Capt E D C Herne

- Capt H S Broad



- 1919 Avro 504M G-EACX (K-134) which was withdrawn from use May 1920;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EADD (K-137) which was scrapped Dec 1919;

and "about 10" other Avro 504s, probably including:

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EACW which crashed off Southsea Nov 1919;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EADM

Aeroplane Services Ltd

Based in Croydon, 1929-34


- 1929 Avro 504K G-AAEZ

Air Pageants Ltd

Active 1934-1937


- Avro 504N G-ACNV (K1808);

- D.H. 60M Moth G-ACOA (VH-UQA), which crashed Hanworth 1936;

- Avro 621 Tutor G-ACOV (K1791);

- Miles M.2D Hawk G-ACPC

Air Travel Ltd

March 1934: "For the coming season Air Travel, Ltd., will be sending their "Silver Trio" round the country on its own and not in conjunction with any other display or aircircus. They will be using the same three Avros ("Mongoose") which they operated with Sir Alan Cobham's display last year, and will be joyriding at a large number of towns in the South and Midlands."

Air Transport

May 1932: "At Stag Lane, two members, Mr. G. M. Harris and Mr. D. Peacock, have now formed a joy-riding company with the name of Air Transport, and they are already operating "Spartan" three-seaters at various places on the South Coast."

Berkshire Aviation Co /

Berkshire Aviation Tours Ltd /

Aviation Tours Ltd /

Northern Air Lines

Based in East Hanney, nr Wantage; Ford; Witney; Hanworth, 1919-1929

 Joy-rides took place all over the Midlands and the Home Counties, and the machines were overhauled in a barn near East Hanney during the winter.

Feb 1930: "Northern Air Lines, whose directors are Mr. F. J. V. Holmes and J. F. Leeming, are acting as managers for the Manchester Corporation, and Mr. W. Ledlie is the manager on the spot.

Berkshire Aviation Tours, Ltd., which is a subsidiary of Northern Air Lines, probably holds the largest stock of "Avros" and Le Rhone 110 h.p. engines in the country, and they deal solely with joyriding."


"Britain's first aerial touring joyriding company"



- Alan Cobham;

Fred J V Holmes;

- J D V 'Jack' Holmes

- Capt F G M Sparks

- O P Jones



Pat O'Hara (parachutist)



- 1919 Avro 536 G-EAKN which crashed nr Brill Aug 1924;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EAKX;

- 1920 Avro 504K G-EASF;

- 1924 Avro 504K G-EBKB;

- 1925 Avro 504K G-EBKX which crashed Lancs Jul 1934;

- 1926 Avro 504K G-EBOB;

- 1927 Avro 504K G-EBQR ex-Western Aviation Co Ltd;

- 1927 Avro 504K G-EBSL which crashed May 1932;

- 1927 Avro 504K G-EBSM;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-EBVW which was dismantled Hootoon Dec 1931;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-EBXV;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-EBYW;

- 1932 D.H. 83 Fox Moth G-ABUP which crashed Scunthorpe Aug 1933


Brompton Motor Co  Ltd

 Based in the Isle of Wight 1921

"Altogether it looks like being a busy season on The Island, and the two pilots will have their hands full"



- Capt A H Dalton

- Capt R E Dean



- 1921 Airco D.H.6 G-EAWT;

- 1921 Airco D.H.6 G-EAWU, which crashed Isle of Wight Mar 1922;

- 1921 Airco D.H.6 G-EAWV


Henderson Flying School Ltd

In 1919, Lt-Col George Lockhart Piercey Henderson offered flights to the general public in an Avro at Hounslow Aerodrome: £1 a head. There was enormous interest; "queues of 50 or more were patiently waiting and the aeroplane could hardly get up and down fast enough".

October 1928: "After luncheon the flying events commenced ... the crowd, by the way, ran to 20,000, according to one report ... there were also joy-riding machines if any wished to try their luck. Col. Henderson was very busy with his Avros"

June 1930: "Lieut.-Col. Henderson is doing a roaring trade on his Junkers "13"—joy-riding.The monoplane evidently takes the public fancy, for it is never on the ground more than 10 minutes together"


- Lt Col G L P Henderson



- 1921 Avro 548 G-EBAJ which crashed Brooklands Apr 1928;

- 1923 Avro 548 G-EBFM which crashed Weybridge Sep 1928;

- 1927 Avro 548 G-EBRD scrapped in South Africa June 1928;

- 1927 Avro 548 G-EBSC which crashed South Africa May 1928;

- 1927 Avro 548 B-EBVE scrapped Nov 1928;

- 1928 Avro 548 G-EBWH scrapped Jul 1928;

- 1928 Avro 548 G-EBWJ;

- 1928 Avro 548 G-EBWO which crashed Reading Apr 1929;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-EBYE;

- 1929 Avro 504K G-AAFJ.

- 1930 Junkers F.13ge G-AAZK belonging to the Walcot Air Line. Lt Col Henderson was killed in this aircraft on 21 July 1930.


 Campbell Black (Aviation) Ltd  
 Cathcart Jones Air Circus  
Cornwall Aviation Co Ltd

Based St Austell, Margate, 1924-1936

 Cornwall Aviation 1

Cornwall Aviation 2

G-EBNR, I think

with thanks to John Moody, who found the above 2 photos amongst his father's effects. He told me, however, that "I'm not sure how he would have come across them; he couldn't have taken them himself, as he was born in 1929... So all a mystery."


 poster image, with thanks to Terry Sear



The Bristol Summer Meeting, in June 1932



- Capt Percival Phillips

- Jo Cameron


- 1924 Avro 504K G-EBIZ, registered to 'Messrs Hill and Phillips;

- 1926 Avro 504K G-EBNR;

- 1927 Avro 504K G-EBSE;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-AAAF;

- 1930 Avro 504K G-AAYI


and possibly

- 1930 Avro 504K G-AAUJ which crashed Harrogate Oct 1932

Devonshire Aviation Tours Ltd

Based in Exeter, 1932



- Avro 504K G-ABZC which crashed Chard Apr 1933

- 1930 Avro 504K G-AAYM;

Goodwin-Chichester Aviation Co (New Zealand)

April 1929, Flight: "On the occasion when these machines were flying, about 300 people were flown at one guinea each"

"The club employs four pilots, all ex-service men"


- Capt Stedman

- Capt G Bolt

- Capt Hewitt



- 1928 Avro 594 Avian IIIa G-NZAV / ZK-AAC;

- 1928 Avro 594 Avian IIIa G-NZEE / ZK-AAF;

- 1929 Avro 594 Avian IIIa ZK-AAN;

- 1929 Simmonds Spartan ZK-ABL;

- 1931 Avro 616 Sports Avian ZK-ACM

Grahame-White Co.

Based at Hendon, 1919

"As regards the flying, the Grahame-White Co. had in commission four Avro two-seaters, 110 h.p. Le Rhone engines, which were kept as busy as could be, taking up passengers at 10s. 6d. and one guinea a time. The half-guinea flights were necessarily somewhat short..."




- Maj R H Carr



- 1919 Avro 504K G-EAAX;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EAAY;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABA;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABE;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABF;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABG;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABH;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABN;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABO;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABP;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABW;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EABX;

- 1919 Blackburn Kangaroo G-EADE which crashed Hendon Jun 1919;

- 1919 Blackburn Kangaroo G-EADF which crashed Hendon May 1919;

- 1919 Blackburn Kangaroo G-EADG

Hillmans Airways Ltd

August 1934: "The Ards Airport, Newtownards, the first civil aerodrome in Northern Ireland, is to be officially opened on August 31st...Hillman's Airways will also be carrying out joy-riding with three D.H. "Dragons"


Imperial Airways Ltd


In 1927 and 1928, much to the disgust of Flight: "The most astonishing feature of the Bournemouth meeting was the presence of the Handley Page 'Hampstead' with three Bristol 'Jupiter' engines, which was used for the undignified task of taking holiday crowds for 'joy-rides' over Bournemouth and surrounding districts.  ... why should such a monopoly company come along and start competing with our 'joy-ride' concerns, who receive no subsidy whatever? Already plenty of difficulties face our struggling 'joy-ride' concerns, who are doing splendid propaganda. For a monopoly company to cut in is in the worst of taste, and we trust that there will be no more 'Imperial Joy-riders.' "

They took no notice, of course:

May 1930: "the Imperial Airways Silver Wing "Argosy" air-liner City of Glasgow will fly up to Renfrew today, and will take up passengers."

April 1932: "Another wet week-end spoilt business for the joyriding firms. In spite of the weather, Imperial Airways had a large party of between 200 and 300 visitors on Saturday afternoon, and a large number of them took flights in one of the Handley Page 42's."

- 1925 the H.P. 9a Hampstead G-EBLE 'City of New York' later re-registered in Australia as VH-ULK

- 1925 A.W. Argosy I G-EBLF 'City of Glasgow'

Irish Air Lines

May 1932: "IRISH AIR LINES, with headquarters at Waterford, commenced operations as a joy-riding "circus" at Arklow, County Wicklow, last week, and had a very good send off. Equipped with Avro 504K aircraft they are to tour the country giving joy-rides, and demonstrations of crazy flying and wing-walking. Already arrangements have been completed for visits to thirty-six towns in Ireland, and a director of the company told our Dublin representative that negotiations for other sites are in progress. The touring party, consisting of four pilots and two ground engineers, will be entirely independent of hotels, as all their kit is being carried in a motor trailer caravan."


(both ex Northern Air Transport)

- 1932 Avro 504K EI-AAM (ex G-AAYH);

- 1932 Avro 504K EI-AAN (ex G-ABHP)


Jubilee Air Displays Ltd

May 1935: "Jubilee Air Displays, led by Lt. O. Cathcart Jones, will be giving a show on Saturday, May 11 , at 2.15 p.m. Flights will be available in the ''Comet ' flown by Scott and Black in the MacRobertson race. On Empire Air Day the aerodrome will be open to the public from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m. at a charge of 3d. The first hundred "joy" flights will be given at half price."


The London Air Circus

August 1932: "PLYMOUTH AIR WEEK In order to popularise flying in Devon an "air week"  has been arranged by Capt. Dean, Plymouth Air Port Officer, to commence on Monday, August 22, and to last for six days.

The London Air Circus, recently formed at  Broxbourne aerodrome under the leadership of Fit. Lt.  Bannister, has been engaged to give aerobatics, displays
and joyrides."

Luffs Aviation Tours Ltd

Based in Weybridge, 1930



- Avro 504K G-ABAA which is in the RAF Museum


North British Aviation Co Ltd

Based in Hooton Park, Lake District, 1929-33. Covered Lancashire, Cheshire and the Lake District.

 Founded byE E Fresson and L J Rimmer; also William Mackay; became part of Cobham's Circus in 1933


- 1920 Avro 504K G-EASF; (ex Berkshire)

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EAKX; (ex Berkshire)

- 1923 Avro 504K G-EBGZ;

- 1923 Avro 504N G-EBHE;

- 1925 Avro 504K G-EBKX; (ex Berkshire)

- 1924 Avro 504K G-EBIS written off Apr 1935;

-1927 Avro 504K G-EBSJ;

-1928 Avro 504K G-EBXA;

- 1929 Avro 504K G-AAEZ;

-1929 D.H. 60G Gipsy Moth G-AAGA (ex Dorothy Hamilton Gault);

-1930 D.H. 60G Gipsy Moth G-AAYL

- 1930 Avro 504K G-ABHJ crashed Hooton 1933;

- 1930 Avro 504K G-ABHK crashed Hooton 1933, as well;

- 1931 Avro 504K G-ABLL crashed Lowton Morr 1934.

North Sea Aerial Navigation Co Ltd

Scarborough, 1919-22





- 1919 Avro 504K G-EAGV which crashed Yortkshire Aug 1920;

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EAGW which crashed Scarborough Jul 1920


Pauline Gower

Miss Pauline Mary de Peauly Gower and her engineer Dorothy Spicer were involved in the British Hospitals Air Pageants in 1933 and 1934 (when it was called the 'Sky Devils Air Circus')

April 1934: "" Piffling Poems." By Pauline Gower. Price Is. 3d, post free.
PIFFLING is a misnomer for the collection of poems by Miss Pauline Gower, published recently. They are not perhaps in the highest poetical style, but we don't suppose that they are meant to be. Some of them are parodies of well-known poetry, in an aviation vein, but they are all very readable and amusing. Miss Gower is a "B" licensed pilot who, working together with her Ground Engineer, Miss Dorothy Spicer, has probably done more hard work joy-riding than any other woman pilot in the country, and from her varied experience has gained an insight to the mentality of pilots which has enabled her to make these "Piffling Poems" well worth getting."

September 1938: " Women With Wings," by Pauline Gower; 10s. 6d., John Long, Ltd.
A CONTRAST is found in this, another woman pilot's book. The reader must again be prepared to wade through a luxuriant profusion of cliches (everything happens with "a sickening thud"), but the going is made a lot easier by Miss Gower's gay insouciance.
Everybody in aviation knows now Pauline Gower, as pilot, and Dorothy Spicer (now Mrs. Pearse), as fully licensed ground engineer, operated a Spartan on taxi, joy-riding and air display work. Here Miss Gower offers the inside story of these activities. She flew thousands of joy-riders without mishap, though, judging by some of her confessions, a very special providence must have been watching over the Avian.
When travelling air circuses become totally extinct (and the time seems very near) the future historian will be able to learn a lot about them from Miss Gower's book. She succeeds completely in conveying the impression of the endless labour of touring—the long hours, car journeys and cross-country flights, problematical fields, accidents to aircraft and personnel, and always malevolent weather.
A definitely entertaining book, even if 10s. 6d. does seem rather a high price for 223 pages that can be read in an evening."



- Pauline Gower


- Dorothy Spicer



- 1929 Simmonds Spartan G-AAGO;

- 1930 Spartan 3-seater G-ABKK which crashed Coventry May 1936

Southern Aircraft Ltd

Based in Shoreham, Eastborne, Lewes, 1925-30


- Eddie Wallace

- Cecil Pashley

- F G Miles



- 1920 Avro 504K G-EATU belonging to Cecil Pashley

- 1924 Avro 504K G-EBJE bought from F G Miles

- 1927 Avro 504K G-EBVL;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-EBYB;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-AACW which crashed Gatwick Jan 1931


Supermarine Aviation Co

Based in Southampton, Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight 1919

"An extensive programme of pleasure flying trips has been inaugurated recently... visitors at Bournmeouth enthusiastically availed themselves of enjoying the thrills of over-water flying"



- Cmdr B D Hobbs DSO DFC



- 1919 Supermarine Channel I


Surrey Flying Services

Based in Croydon, Southsea, Yarmouth and Portsmouth 1919-34

1921: "The five-seater Avros carried nearly 500 passengers in one day last week - some flying!"

1922: "Surrey Flying Services have been having a busy time lately. They have been erecting another Avro to add to their joy-ride fleet and, with this completed, have now started on the erection of a D.H. 9."

June 1922: "There is now too much work for the one Avro. Mr. Yule (sic), who has been engaged for the last three years  piloting machines in Norway, has joined the Surrey Flying Services as pilot, and will be in charge of the new Avro when it is away on joy-riding excursions. During the week-end, Capt. Muir has been at Leighton Buzzard, taking up joyriders in connection with a carnival that is being held there."

April 1931: "Mr. E. Smith, well known as a pilot of Surrey Flying Services, was killed instantaneously when he and his companion, Mr. C. M. Brown, who was the owner of the machine, crashed in the centre of some cross-roads in Wallington. The machine was an Avro Avian, G-EBZD, which originally belonged to Airways Publications, Ltd., but was sold to Mr. Brown some time ago."

June 1930: "Surrey Flying Services have had three joy-riding machines constantly in commission over the week-end, during which period they carried over 1,000 passengers, in addition to which 20 pupils are under dual instruction on the Avian, and the D.H.9 is kept busy on Continental work."

 And here is a splendid photo of 'William Alfred Pask of Tailor, Reepham, Norfolk and daughter Rosa' about to enjoy their ride in an Avro 536, which was sent to me by his grand-daughter Enid. Probably at Yarmouth, almost certainly in the 1920s:

William Pask and Rosa Surrey Flying Services


- Capt A F Muir

- A B H Youell (1922-23)

- Mr E Smith



Royal blue fuselages with white letters, and silver wings with blue letters.

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EAIR which crashed Hayling Island Aug 1923;

- 1919 Avro 536 five-seater G-EAKM which crashed Taplow Jul 1928;

- 1919 Avro 536 five-seater G-EAKP;

- 1921 Avro 504K G-EAWI which crashed Croydon Sep 1921;

- 1921 Avro 504K G-EAWJ;

- 1922 Avro 548 G-EBBC;

- 1922 Avro 504K G-EBDP;

- 1922 Airco D.H.9 G-EBEP, which crashed Surrey Nov 1928;

- 1923 Avro 504K G-EBFW which crashed Yeovil Sep 1926;

- 1923 Avro 504K G-EBHM which crashed Port Talbot Jun 1927;

- 1923 Avro 504K G-EBII;

- 1924 Avro 548A G-EBIV;

- 1926 Avro 536 five-seater G-EBOF;

- 1926 Avro 536 five-seater G-EBOY;

- 1927 Avro 536 five-seater G-EBRB whcih crashed Barry May 1928;

- 1927 D.H.60X Moth G-EBSO which crashed Brooklands May 1932;

- 1927 Avro 536 G-EBTF;

- 1927 Avro 594 Avian III G-EBVA (later sold to Geoffrey Shaw);

- 1928 Avro 504K G-EBYW;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-EBZB;

- 1928 Avro 504K G-AAAF;

- 1928 Avro 548 G-AABW;

- 1929 Airco D.H.9 G-AADU;

- 1929 Avro 504K G-AAGB;

- 1930 Avro 504K G-AAYM;

- 1930 Avro 504K G-ABAY

Welsh Aviation Co Ltd

 December 1920: "NEW COMPANIES REGISTERED: WELSH AVIATION CO., LTD., 31, Fisher Street, Swansea.

Capital £5,000, in £1 shares. Acquiring business of aviation carried on at Swansea by F. G. M. Sparkes and E. A. Sullock.
First directors : T. W. Jones, D. Dill, G. Rowe, F. G. M. Sparkes, E. A. Sullock and C. H. Mills.


G-EAWL at Pendine Sands - via L Pritchard

The Aeroplane Feb 22 1922: "To satisfy an execution issued by the bailiff against the Welsh Aviation Co. Ltd., four Avro aeroplanes were offered for sale at a public auction at Swansea on Wednesday. The machines went very cheaply. Three with 120-h.p. Le Rhone engines fetched £50, £40, and £30, respectively, and one with 80-h p. Renault engine was knocked down at £12 10s.  They were all purchased by the same buyer, Mr. Evan Williams, a turf accountant of Neath."


- Capt F G M Sparks

- Capt H S Broad


Aeroplanes: "These aeroplanes were familiar at Swansea, Neath, Port Talbot, and Porthcawl, where they regularly ply for hire."

- 1919 Avro 504K G-EAFH;

- 1921 Avro 504K G-EAWK which crashed Swansea Bay Oct 1922;

Gloucester Citizen - Saturday 07 October 1922: "Swansea Aeroplane Tragedy. WITNESS WHO REFUSED A TRIP. A verdict that death was due to asphyxiation through drowning was recorded at the inquest at Swansea on Evan Williams, commission agent, of Neath; Frederick Percy Bush, air pilot of Swansea; and Sergt-Major Biggin of the R.A.S.C.. also Swansea, the three victims of the aeroplane accident over Swansea Bay. After being up for a trip the machine was preparing to alight when it nose-dived into the bay, all three men being drowned.

Jack Thomas, of Neath, said he was in charge of the motor-car that brought Evan Williams to Swansea. Williams asked Bush to take him and friend for a flight. Witness was asked to go up, but declined. There were no straps on the machine. Consequently no one was strapped in. On returning from the flight after half hour, said witness, the machine was too high to effect a landing at the ordinary spot, and it returned to a lower altitude. He believed that when banking the machine nose-dived into the water two hundred yards from shore.  The machine might have side-slipped. John Marshall, the Cabin Aeroplane Depot. Swansea, said that the machine had been thoroughly overhauled and was in proper order. Witness said he could only guess the pilot lost control of the machine. The Coroner said the cause would more or less always remain a mystery."

Evan Williams RAeC photo 1916

Evan Williams in 1916

- 1921 Avro 504K G-EAWL;

- 1921 Avro 504K G-EAWM


Western Aviation Co Ltd


Based in Cheltenham, Witney 1927-31

Gloucester Citizen, March 1927: "NEW COMPANY. Western Aviation Limited has been registered as a private company with capital of £1,000 in £1 shares to carry on the business of manufacturers of and dealers in flying machines, aeroplanes, seaplanes or other aircraft or machines, etc.

The directors are :— Mr. E. W. Jordan, Belmore House, Bath Road, Cheltenham, engineer, and Mr. J. Sheils, Terry Lawn, Pittville, Cheltenham, secretary.

The qualifications is and the remuneration as fixed by the company.

The secretary is Mr. J. Sheils and the solicitor Mr. H. F. Midwinter. Crescent-place. Cheltenham. The registered office is Crescent-place, Cheltenham.


1927: "WANTED AT ONCE. A really sound " B " licensed Pilot for joy-riding.—Full details, experience to WESTERN AVIATION, LTD., 1, Leamington Place, Cheltenham."


Gloucester Citizen, October 1927: "FLYING! Western Aviation Ltd. are giving passenger flights from 5s. each at Castle Meads Daily until October 17th. On Sunday afternoon, in addition to the usual passenger flights, a spectacular exhibition of stunt flying will be given. Admission to Field 6d.; Children Half-price.

Cheltenham Chronicle - Saturday 11 April 1931: "WETTEST EASTER FOR YEARS. In spite of the moist conditions and poor visibility the Western Aviation aeroplane giving flights from Kayte Farm seems to have been busy, and has often been seen flying over the town."





- Avro 504K G-EBQR;

- Avro 504K G-EBXV


Wight Aviation Ltd

1930 - 1932


May 1930: "THE ISLE OF WIGHT FLYING CLUB cordially invite all members of Light 'Plane Clubs, private owners, and others concerned with aviation, to attend at their Air Pageant, to be held at Shanklin Aerodrome, on Thursday, June 12, at 2 15 p.m., on the occasion of the official opening of the Club
by Air Vice-Marshal Sir Sefton Brancker.

Joy-riding will be carried out throughout the meeting by Wight Aviation, Ltd."

"Capt. Ward who, together with his pilot, Mr. Woodward, runs Wight Aviation, Ltd., and is the founder of the Isle of Wight Flying Club, is to be congratulated on initiating the meeting"



- 1930 Simmonds Spartan G-ABNU owned by Capt R Ward


Zenith Airways

Based in Rhyl 1935; Camber Sands, nr Rye, 1936


May 1935, Flight: "ZENITH AIRWAYS LTD.: Private company, registered May 3. Capital:  £1,000 in 5/- shares. Objects: to operate all methods of aerial conveyance ; manufacturers and repairers of and dealers in all types of aircraft, etc. The subscribers  (each with four shares) are Herbert D. Ward, "Belvedere," Thames Drive. Leighon-Sea. Essex ; Geo. T. Butler. The first directors are to be appointed by the  subscribers."

March 1951, Stuart Campbell Brander, writing in Flight: "More so, perhaps, than any other veteran type at last year's R.A.F. Display, the Avro 504 must have brought acute attacks of nostalgia to many spectators. Hundreds of Service pilots received their ab initio training on this endearing type, and there are many others who were once engaged in the joy-riding or circus business (or, as some would have it, "racket"): that fraternity of pilots who, throughout the summer months, persuaded their 504s out of incredibly small fields and, after completing the required circuit, gracefully "swish-tailed" in to a brakeless landing.

My last engagement as a ground engineer on a rotary-engined 504 was in the early summer of 1935 at Camber Sands, near Rye. Later that year I joined Sir Alan Cobham's circus, whose fleet of 504N Avros were, of course, radial-engined.
The 504 used at Camber Sands was something of a mongrel, as an authentic "N" airframe, owing to the scarcity of Lynx engines, had been modified to accommodate a Clerget rotary."

"The year before, at Rhyl, we operated directly from the sands, even continuing at high tide when but a narrow strip of foreshore remained. Our "runway" was marked out with red flags which, not surprisingly, were at times insufficient deterrents to prevent children, during a lull in flying, from digging large sand-castles in the middle of the area; and the ensuing ruthless destruction of these hazards often led to tearful protests from their owners or, worse still, to irate admonishments from parents. Absent-minded bathers on their way to the sea, too, would cross over just at the moment of take-off, whilst the ever-present beach dogs were a constant source of worry.
On Bank Holidays business was particularly brisk, and flying would be almost continuous from early morning till dusk."


- 1935 Avro 504N G-ADGB

and possibly one of:

- 1935 Avro 504N G-ADGC;

- 1935 Avro 504N G-ADGM;

- 1935 Avro 504N G-ADGN

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