Imperial Airways Pilot

  • -Imperial Airways

    The pilots of Imperial Airways


    Imperial Airways Empire Flying Boat 0370-0161   Imperial Airways G-AAGX HP42 Hannibal 0738-0010

    Formed in 1924 as a merger of

    - the Instone Air Line Company, owned by shipping magnate Samuel Instone, 

    - Noel Pemberton Billing's British Marine Air Navigation (part of the Supermarine flying-boat company),

    - the Daimler Airway, under the management of George Edward Woods, and 

    - Handley Page Transport Co Ltd,

    .Imperial Airways was Britain's first national airline.

    They seem to have recruited heavily from the available RAFVR pilots at the time:

    The undermentioned are granted commissions in Class A, General Duties Branch, in the ranks stated. 19th Aug. 1924.
    Flying Officer. Alan Colin CAMPBELL-ORDE. A.F.C.
    Pilot Officer. Alfred John Clifford OVERAL.

    The undermentioned Officers are confirmed in rank with effect from the dates indicated : —
    Flying Officers.
    26th Dec. 1923. Thomas Clelland LOWE, M.C.
    27th June 1924. William Allan MACKAY, D.C.M.
    2nd July 19241. Philip Thomas HUBBARD.
    29th July 1924. John Anthony Archibald BARBER.
    5th Aug. 1924. Charles Francis WOLLEY DOD, Horace Theodore TOWNSEND.
    12th Aug. 1924. George Beacall POWELL, A.F.C.
    19th Aug. 1924. Oscar Philip JONES, Arthur Sidney WILCOCKSON, Robert Murray Hamilton YOUNG.

    Pilot Officers.
    29th July 1924. Edwin Charles BROWN.
    5th Aug. 1924. Arthur BARRON, Arthur Edwin BETTS, Arthur Leonard ROBINSON, Rene Fisk CATHROW.
    19th Aug. 1924. Guy Tristram Eversley Bostock DORMAN,  Samuel Joseph WHEELER

    The first 16 pilots also included

    Robert Henry 'All-weather Mac' McIntosh

    Leslie Allan Walters

    Alan Bruce Hamilton Youell

    Francis Joseph Bailey and Herbert John 'Horse' Horsey from British Marine Air Navigation

    Walter George Raymond 'Hinch' Hinchliffe and Harry Sanders Robertson from The Daimler Airway

    Franklyn Leslie Barnard from Instone Air Line Company

    Frederick DismoreGordon Percy Olley,and Walter Rogers from Handley Page Transport Co Ltd

  • Alcock, Edward Samson

     Edward Samson Alcock  
    Edward Samson Alcock (1901 - 1974) - Genealogy

    In November 1931 he was pilot of 'Horsa', the first H.P. 42, on a leisurely trip to Heliopolis via Paris, Lyons, Marseilles, Pisa, Rome, Naples, Catania, Malta, Tripoli, Sirte and Marsah Mutra. "Ample time will be spent at each stopping place". The flight took seven days.

    Awarded Master Pilot's Certificate in 1934

    September 1934: "Captain Alcock is a younger brother of the late Sir John Alcock, who made the first Atlantic flight in 1919. After a period of service in the Royal Air Force, Capt. Alcock joined Imperial Airways in 1929, and has now flown a distance of more than 750,000 miles"

    Promoted to Senior Master in October 1938

    d. 1974 in Surrey


  • Alger, Howard Whitmore Cowell

    Howard Whitmore Cowell Alger

    Imperial Airways HWC Alger 

    b. 12 May 1901, Kidderminster

    Imperial Airways pilot from 1928

    based Cairo

  • Armstrong, William

      William Armstrong AFC 
     w_armstrong.jpg   w armstrong 1934   in 1934

    b. Gateshead-on-Tyne 4 Feb 1897

    RFC in WWI; pilot for Airco 1919-20

    Imperial Airways pilot from 1924

    Awarded Master Pilot's Certificate in 1935 

  • Attwood, Ernest Henry


    Ernest Henry 'Titch' Attwood
    Ernest Attwood in 1917  Flt-Lt in the RFC in 1917 - mentioned in despatches

    Ernest Attwood in the Middle East before 1926  in Egypt after WWI


    Ernest Attwood Imperial Airways 

    on duty with Imperial Airways in Southampton

    with a tall dark and mysterious woman *

    Ernest Attwood in May 1938  in May 1938

    b. Birmingham, 6 Mar 1899; joined the RFC in 1917, saw active sevice in Egypt and then became a training instructor at No 5 RAF Flying School in Sealand, Cheshire.

    He joined Imperial Airways in November 1926.

    September 1932: "The Prince of Wales will leave London this morning in the Imperial Airways liner Heracles for Copenhagen, where he is to open the British Exhibition. Two halts will be made en route—one at Amsterdam and the other at Hamburg. The complete journey is expected to take six and a half hours. Captain E. H. Attwood, of Imperial Airways, will be the pilot, and two R.A.F. flying boats from Calshot will escort the Prince on the first stage of his journey across the Channel from Dover. "

    Chief Pilot, South African Division in 1932

    He was killed in November 1938, when piloting Empire Flying Boat G-AETW 'Calpurnia' which hit bad weather, and crashed and sank in Lake Ramadi, 15 miles short of the Imperial Airways base at Habbaniyah. Four of the crew of six were killed; there were no passengers.

    Calpurnia was carrying mail at the time. "Many mailbags burst in the crash, and hundreds of letters are floating on the surface of the shallow lake in which the flying boat lies submerged." The letters were scooped up where possible, marked "Received in Damaged Condition ex Flying Boat Calpurnia" and sent on:

    Calpurnia Mail

    Ernest's grandson (who also kindly sent me the photos) tells me that, although he never met his grandfather, "I knew his wife well, my grandmother, who was a nurse in The Great War and died in 1963. I was told that he did not consider himself to be in the 'real war' but that his brother, who was in the trenches, was the brave one!"

    * Adrian Constable, British Airways Archivist, kindly tells me that "The lady was Minnie Mann. Minnie was one of Imperial Airways senior secretaries, and a more-than-keen photographer.  That photo was almost certainly taken with her camera, and is one of the few times she appeared in front of the lens rather than behind it.  She was apparently well liked by all the pilots, and managed to get in to situations with her camera that others would have found "against the rules".  I wish we had more of her pictures than we do!"

  • BA/Imperial Airways Timetable 1939


    imperial airways timetable

     A 1939 Timetable: London-Sydney in 10 days, 3 times a week

    via Lance Fishman <This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.>


  • Bailey, Francis Joseph

      Flt Lt Francis Joseph Bailey

     Imperial Airways FJ Bailey


    One of the original 16 pilots of Imperial Airways in 1924

    b. 9 Sep 1897 in London

    Flight Sub-Lt in the RNAS in WWI, then with British Marine Air Navigation Co

    Also held 2nd class navigators licence


  • Ballantine, Ronald George

      Ronald George Ballantine

     ronald ballantine


    b. Plymouth on August 2 1913 and educated at Plymouth College. He studied Art in Plymouth and Paris but, like so many of his generation, his life changed after a five-shilling flight with Alan Cobham's Flying Circus (q.v.)

    "He learned to fly privately, and by the time he was 21 he had obtained his commercial flying, navigation and wireless licences, enabling him to join Imperial Airways.

    Initially Ballantine flew as a second officer in the open cockpit of a three-engine Argosy on the Croydon-Brussels-Cologne route; the 20 passengers were able to lounge in wicker chairs.

    He then moved on to the stately four-engine HP 42 biplane airliner. With an almost complete lack of navigation aids, locating Croydon airport in poor weather depended on finding the twin towers of Crystal Palace, then setting a stopwatch and descending blind.

    Ballantine next flew on the Imperial Airways Empire routes to Africa and Asia, before being appointed to his first command at the age of 23; he was based in Hong Kong, flying the de Havilland DH 86.

    During this period he carried out an aerial survey of the route to Bangkok via Hanoi, across the relatively unknown territories of Siam and Indo-China, and he established a 16-hour record for the Rangoon-Calcutta return journey in the DH 86 Delphinus.

    Ballantine earned his nickname, "The Colonel", after General Chiang Kai Shek offered him a colonelcy in his nationalist air force - a post which the Englishman prudently declined."

    Ballantine was described by a colleague as "tall and debonair. . . quintessentially English, and a genial man of great modesty and charm". During the war, following a spirited party with his fellow pilots, he had crashed his car; he never drove again.

    d. Dec 2003


  • Barnard, Franklyn Leslie

      Capt Franklyn Leslie Barnard OBE AFC

       photo: 1925, aged 29      franklyn barnard


     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." - 'Flight'


  • Bennett, Donald Clifford Tyndall

    Donald Clifford Tyndall Bennett CB CBE DSO RAF

        Don Bennett 1948    Don Bennett in 1947 


    flag australia  b. 14 September 1910 in Queensland

    With Imperial Airways, promoted to Senior Master in October 1938

    '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


  • Bowes, George Henry

      Flt-Lt George Henry Bowes

     g h bowes


     the Imperial War Museums

    d. 19/20 Jun 1941, one of 9 killed when Shorts S26 Flying Boat X8274 ('Golden Fleece') crashed at sea off Cape Finisterre en route to Cairo; Commemorated on the Runnymede Memorial, Panel 29.

    28 June 1941: "GOOLE OFFICER MISSING. FORMER IMPERIAL AIRWAYS PILOT Flight-Lieut. G. H. Bowes, youngest son of Mrs and the late Mr G. H. Bowes, of Carter-street, Goole, and a former Imperial Airways pilot, is officially reported missing.

    Flight-Lieut. Bowes attended Goole St. John's National School and Hull Technical College as a boy. He joined the R.A.F. in 1930, and served in Egypt during the Italo-Abyssinian dispute, rising to the rank of sergeant pilot. Later he was a test pilot. In 1936 he entered the service of Imperial Airways, and the following year he was First officer and navigator on the flying boat Caledonia, which made the first experimental transatlantic flight between Foynes (Ireland) and Botwood (Newfoundland).

    He crossed the Atlantic 10 times, and also piloted 'planes on the Near and Far East services. On the outbreak of war Flight-Lieut Bowes rejoined the R.A.F.

    During the German invasion of Norway he was wounded in the knee and bombed out of hospital, but was safely evacuated to Scotland. While in hospital there he became engaged to Miss Joan Walker of Greenock, and was married last November. Flight-Lieutenant Bowes has a nephew, Sergeant-Pilot Bowes, of Fourth-avenue, Goole, who also joined the R.A.F. before the war, and is a prisoner in Germany."


  • Brunton, Maurice

     Mr Maurice Brunton


     b. 6 Sep 1906, Preston, Lanc

    RAF 1925-38; 

    Pilot for Imperial Airways, 1939


    d , 21 Nov 1971 - London



    Research: thanks to Steve Brew


  • CA/Imperial Airways Hannibal


    H. P. 42 'Hannibal'

  • Caspareuthus, Rhinhold Ferdinand

      Capt Rhinhold Ferdinand Caspareuthus

     rhinie casparenthus



     b. Paarl, S Sfrica, 9 Sep 1899

    Ikmperial Airways, based in Cape Town from 1929

    Promoted to Senior Master in October 1938


  • Cumming, William Neville

      FLt Lt William Neville Cumming DFC




     b. Edinburgh 22 Sep 1899

    flew in N Ontario 1926-7; 1926-30 on the trans-prairie night mail; Imperial Airways from 1930

    RAeC Certificate No 22856 in 1947, by which time he was a Company Director and lived in Epsom, Surrey.


  • Dismore, Frederick

      Frederick Dismore

     f dismore


    frederick dismore  an Air Mechanic in 1913

    f dismore 1934 1934


     One of the original 16 pilots of Imperial Airways in 1924

    b. East Ham 26 May 1893

    pilot for Handley Page Transport Ltd 1921-24

    May 1926: "161 MILES PER HOUR. Captain F. Dismore. an Imperial Airways pilot, flew a specially chartered Vickers Napier express from Croydon Aerodrome to Brighton yesterday in the record time of 13 minutes, an average speed of 161 miles an hour."

    April 1933: "MASONIC FLYING CLUB HOLD FIRST MEETING AT BROOKLANDS.  Members of the new Masonic Flying Club held their first official meeting at Brooklands to-day. The club is composed of Masons from all over the country. The idea occurred to a group of pilots at Croydon who are Freemasons. Capt. Dismore, a well-known Imperial Airways pilot, flew several of the members over to Brooklands from Croydon in an Imperial Airways machine, making two trips for the purpose, and others travelled by road. There were about a hundred present in all.

    A miniature air pageant was staged for their benefit, and the Masons were greatly interested in a demonstration of new fire-resisting paint, and in the Lowe-Wylde powered glider. The club proposes to acquire headquarters in the neighbourhood of Brooklands, where arrangements w ill be made for them to receive flying instruction."


  • Drew,  Donald Herbert

      Donald Herbert Drew AFC

     donald drew in 1917

    in 1917


    adelaide and drew 1929

    with Adelaide Cleaver in 1929


    b. London 23 Sep 1899

    'Aeroplane and Seaplane pilot'

    2 July 1930: "AIR PILOT DIVORCED. JUDGE'S COMMENTS ON CO-RESPONDENT. A decree nisi, with costs and custody of the child, was granted in the Divorce Court yesterday to Mrs Arabella Beatrice Angela Drew, who gave her address at the Stafford Hotel, St James's Place, London. She had petitioned for the dissolution of her marriage to Captain Donald Herbert Drew, of the Aerodrome Hotel, Croydon, on the ground of his alleged adultery with Mrs Kathleen Brookie Digby, who offered to write her address, but said she had no permanent home.

    Captain Drew, an Imperial Airways pilot, was in charge of the aeroplane from which Captain Loewenstein, the Belgian financier, disappeared over the Channel.

    The suit was defended, and Captain Drew and Mrs Digby gave evidence denying the allegation.

    Mr Justice Hill, giving judgment, said that there was evidence that Mrs Digby entertained flying officers at the house and that they went there for tea or cocktails. It was obvious from the evidence that Mrs Digby was a woman who was quite capable of committing adultery with Captain Drew or, indeed, he thought, with anybody else."

    He married again, a year later:


    Miss Betty Eley, the musical comedy actress, who played the part of Lady Mary in " The Vagabond King " at the Winter Garden Theatre, London, has become engaged to Captain Donald Drew, the noted air pilot. Miss Norah Blaney, who was also one of the principals in " The Vagabond King " arranged a tea party in an airplane about four years ago, and Captain Drew piloted the machine over London while the party was in progress. Miss Eley was one of the guests, and she and Captain Drew became friends. About 15 months ago Miss Eley went out to Australia, where she appeared in "Hold Everything," and "Love Lies." She returned to England about six months ago. Miss Eley said to-day: "We shall not be married for some time, as my fiancé will be away for three months." 

    d. 1936: "Capt. Donald Drew, for some years an Imperial Airways pilot, died in London today after a long illness at the age of 36.

    Capt. Drew was piloting Capt. Lowenstein's private plane when the Belgian millionaire fell from it into the Channel on July 4. 1928. When Capt. Lowenstein offered him a position as a pilot he would not take it until Imperial Airways agreed to lend him to the 'Lowenstein Navy', as the financier's air fleet was called."

    Wierdly,  Lowenstein's biographer, a Mr Norris, in 1987 "concluded that Lowenstein had been thrown from the aircraft by Donald Drew, the pilot, at the behest of Madeleine Lowenstein, the motive being to gain control of Lowenstein's fortune. He suggested that the aircraft's rear door was completely removed while in the air and a replacement fitted on the beach at St. Pol."


  • EA/Imperial Airways HP42


    Imperial Airways G-AAXC HP42 Heracles at Croydon 20 Mar 1935 0751-0145

  • Egglesfield, L A

      Capt L A Egglesfield



     January 1939: "Captain L. A. Egglesfield, Imperial Airways 'million miles' pilot, has been appointed Deputy Director of Civil Aviation in India, and will take up his appointment next month."


  • Elliot-Wilson, Frank Charles

      Capt Frank Charles Elliot-Wilson




     b. King William's Town, S Africa 19 Dec 1897

    pilot on the South African section of the London-Cape Town route


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