Imperial Airways Pilot

  • Rees, Thomas John

      Mr Thomas John Rees



     October 1939: "PILOT'S DIVORCE. WIFE WHO WAS 'IN LOVE WITH ANOTHER MAN' In the Divorce Court to-day Mr. Justice Bucknill granted a decree nisi to Mr. Thomas John Rees, formerly an Imperial Airways pilot and now an officer in the R.A.F., who gave his address as Kelston Lodge, Repton.

    Mr. Rees alleged misconduct by his wife, Kathleen Rees, and the suit was undefended.

    The marriage took place in 1935 at Devonport. Early in 1938, according to the petitioner's case, Mrs. Rees said that she was love with another man, and they separated. Mr. Rees later found that his wife had stayed with a man at a London Hotel in June, 1938. Costs were given against the co-respondent, Leslie Whittome."


  • Reid, Richard Charles Stuart

      Richard Charles Stuart 'Dick' Reid




    Flying-boat captain.

    b. April 4, 1912 in Potchefstroom, South Africa.

    Reid flew the C-Class flying boats that were introduced in 1936 along a route from Southampton to South Africa, via the Mediterranean, Egypt and East Africa.

    During WWII he carried senior officers around the Mediterrranean and Egypt, and in 1943 he was involved in a dramatic rescue of survivors from a torpedoed merchant ship off Mozambique.

    He died on December 4, 2006, aged 94


  • Rendall, Athelstan Sigfrid Mellersh

      Athelstan Sigfrid Mellersh 'Flaps' Rendall


    Athelstan Rendall

    in 1935


    Imperial Airways Athelstan Rendallr in 1954 0378-0168

    (r) with Bill Pegg and DP Davies in 1954. They were test-flying the Bristol Britannia


    b. January 3 1914 at Chagford, Devon, and educated at Gresham's School and Leeds University, where he gained a BSc.

    He became an assistant ground engineer with the Herts and Essex Aero Club for two years, during which time he gained his pilot's licence. At the time (1935) his address was 'Brooklands Poultry Farm, Broxbourne, Herts', and the following year he joined Imperial Airways as a first officer.

    After a period flying the HP 42 Rendall was posted to the de Havilland DH 86 service between Khartoum and West Africa. During this period he was a very junior co-pilot, acting as engineer, radio operator and steward all in one. Despite his multiple responsibilities, he claimed that his only piloting activity was to work the wing flaps with a hand pump, hence his nickname of "Flaps''. He also undertook charter work in West Africa for the Nigerian government.

    Rendall was very keen on boating, and for some years he managed a friend's 60-foot motor yacht based in the Mediterranean. He later built and sailed his own boat.

    With six children, including two sets of twins, he converted the family car, a pre-war Lea Francis, for holidays.

    In 1955 the Guild of Air Pilots and Navigators awarded him a Master Pilot Certificate for "long service and high achievement'', and in 1959 he became a Liveryman of the Guild. He was appointed OBE in 1964.

    "Flaps'' Rendall died on July 18 2006.


  • Robertson, Harry Sanders

      Harry Sanders Robertson

     Imperial_Airways_Harry_Robertson.jpg 1917


     One of the original 16 pilots of Imperial Airways in 1924(in fact, he was the pilot on its very first service on 26th April, 1924, flying D.H.34 G-EBCX from London (Croydon) to Paris (le Bourget).

    b. 2 Nov 1895, Nottingham

    prev. London Scottish 1914, Border Regiment & R.E. 1915

    RFC and RAF 1916-1919. RAF Overseas (Flt-Lt) 1924-37

    Air Tranpsort Auxiliary in WWII  - see

     d. 12 Oct 1950, Manchester 


  • Robinson, Arthur Leonard

      Mr Arthur Leonard Robinson




    One of the original 16 pilots of Imperial Airways in 1924

    September 1925: "A new air record was created Friday, when Mr. A. L. Robinson, an Imperial Airways pilot, flew a Napier D.H. Express carrying six passengers from Londonto  Amsterdam, a distance by air of 275 miles, in 110 minutes. His average speed was 150 miles per hour."

    His was a rather chequered career; apparently there was a rumour that he insisted on being paid in cash because the taxman was after him. This is from the Western Daily Press, 2 May 1934:

    "Arthur Leonard Robinson (38), a wartime flying officer, stated to have been formerly employed as a pilot by Imperial Airways, was sentenced at London Session, yesterday, to six months' hard labour for obtaining credit by fraud from a London restaurant"

    During WW2 he flew with the ATA, and later as a test pilot for Rolls Royce at Hucknall.

    d. in 1950:

    "ROBINSON Arthur Leonard of 21 Marshall-drive Bramcote Nottingham died 30 September 1950 Administration Liverpool 17 November to Irene Mabel Robinson widow. Effects £2,478 5s 8d." (which sounds quite a lot to me; I wonder how he got it?)


  • Rogers, Walter

      Walter Rogers

     walter rogers in 1917 1917


      One of the original 16 pilots of Imperial Airways in 1924

    b. London 31 May 1895

    with Handley Page Transport Co 1920-24

    Feb 1928: "Capt W Rogers, an Imperial Airways pilot, while testing an air liner, saw smoke and flames coming from the roof of a house near Croydon. He kept flying around the building until he had attracted attention to the house."

    Lived at 'Le Bourget', Cosdach Avenue, Wallington, Surrey in 1932

    w rogers 19341934


  • Rose, Geoffrey

      F/O Geoffrey Rose




     b. Bedford 27 Dec 1897

    Address in 1932: 1, Apsley Heath, Woburn Sands, Beds


  • Sheppard, Jack Sydney

      Jack Sydney Sheppard

     imperial airways jack sheppard 1938 c. 1938



    b. Ballybrophy, Ireland 4 Dec 1900

    Recruited by Charles Kingsford Smith as a pilot for Australian National Airways 1929-30, then joined Imperial Airways

    November 1935: "'PLANE OVERSHOOTS AERODROME Imperial Airways Pilot Injured. Rangoon, Saturday.

    The right wing of an Imperial Airways 'plane was damaged at Rangoon to-day when the machine overshot the aerodrome when landing.

    The pilot, Chief Pilot Mr J. S. Sheppard, was slightly injured, but the two passengers are said to be uninjured. The machine was an eastbound one.

    It is understood that Captain Sheppard is one of the company's best-known pilots. A native of Ballybrophy, Ireland, he is 35 years of age and served in the R.A.F. from 1918-29. He was a member of the North Russian Relief Expedition in 1919. For a year he was a pilot with Australian National Airways. He is now pilot to the Imperial Airways on their Cairo-Khartoum service and stationed at Heliopolis, Egypt. In October, Captain Sheppard piloted the Imperial Airways liner 'Atlanta' when making a record day's flight of 1777 miles from Dodoma, Tanganyika, to Johannesburg."

    Promoted to Senior Master in October 1938

    Jack flew the last civilian flight out of Singapore in 1942, piloting an Imperial Airways Short Empire Flying Boat.

    based Heliopolis

    His son-in-law tells me that "Born in Kildare in 1900, Jack was a real 'rags to riches' story. From a poor Irish farm, he left school at 14 to become an engine mechanic. He joined the RFC as a mechanic and transferred to the RAF in 1918, qualifying as a PFO in time to just miss the end of WW1.

    He flew as a Captain with the Expeditionary Force in Russia, rejoined the RAF having gone down a rank to retain a position. He regained his Captain / PFO position and was a pilot of DH3 biplanes out of Netheravon in 1923. He decided to move to civil aviation in 1929 and moved to Australia for 12 months (where he met Kingsford-Smith and others).

    He became a Captain in Imperial Airways in 1930. Starting in Croydon, he moved to lead a 'silver age' lifestyle in Egypt in the 1930's, lived at Heliopolis, drove an open MG sports car, and became good friends with other pilots (including Rhinie Caspareuthus). 
    He became Senior Captain within 2 - 3 years, and became well known for airmail (London to Durban) records. He soon had 4 or 5 regular runs.
    He married a South African lady in 1941 in Durban and planned to leave Imperial Airways in 1945. Jack retired to Ireland in 1945 where he became a farmer and horse owner / trainer. He finally retired to Durban in 1969 and died there in 1982."


  • Spafford, John

       John Spafford




    b. Mar 1902

    Imperial Airways from 1928

    Address in 1932: 'Braeside', The Chase, Stafford Rd, Wallington, Surrey

    Awarded Master Pilot's Certificate in 1934


  • Store, Gordon

      Captain Gordon Store, MVO, OBE



     b. Kimberley, South Africa, on January 28, 1906.

    In 1931 Gordon was co-pilot and navigator on the 19-year-old Peggy Salaman's record-breaking flight to South Africa in a De Havilland Puss Moth. They set off on Oct 30, 1931 from Lympne in Kent and five days, six hours and 40 minutes later they landed at the Cape, knocking more than a day off the record.

    Young Gordon was educated at Kimberley Boys High School, at Mill Hill and Imperial College, London. He learned to fly at the De Havilland school and in 1926 was commissioned into the Reserve of Air Force Officers. After his flight with Peggy Salaman in 1931, Store remained in South Africa as a director of Aero Services, operating from a grass airfield at Wynburg.

    Three years after setting this record Gordon Store joined Imperial Airways, serving on the airline's African and Empire routes before beginning a long association with the Atlantic in 1939, when he commanded one of the three crews which operated the first regular transatlantic services.

    After the war Store was recruited by Air Vice-Marshal Don Bennett of "Pathfinder" fame as operations manager of British South American Airways, which merged with BOAC in 1949. Store became a Douglas Stratocruiser captain.

    d. October 4, aged 87.


  • Taylor, Rex Oliver Oxley

       Rex Oliver Oxley Taylor




    b. London 21 May 1905

    Imperial Airways from 1930; intially on cross-channel then Cairo-Khartoum service

    based Heliopolis


  • Thomson, George Irving

       Flt Lt George Irving Thomson DFC




    b. Assam, Egypt 25 Oct 1891

    Imperial Airways from 1928

    lent to New Guinea Goldfields Ltd 1929-30

    Address in 1932: 'Beechwood', Hawthorn Rd, Wallington, Surrey


  • Travers, Frederick Dudley

       Frederick Dudley Travers DFC Croix de Guerre




     b. York 15 Feb 1897

    Imperial Airways from 1926; pilot on the Cairo-Karachi Air Mail Service 1926-29

    Awarded Master Pilot's Certificate in 1934


  • Tweedie, Patrick G

       Flt Lt Patrick Graeme? Tweedie




     b. Edinburgh 1902

    Imperial Airways from 1930; based Cairo


  • Walters, Leslie Allan

      Leslie Allan Walters

     leslie walters

    leslie walters 


     One of the original 16 pilots of Imperial Airways in 1924

    b. London 30 Sep 1898

    119, Foxley Lane, Purley in 1932

    The first in the UK to be awarded the Master Pilot's Certificate, in 1934.


  • Warner, ??

      Capt Warner




    2 Jan 1928: "BAGDAD AIR LINER. FORCED LANDING IN DESERT SHORT OF PETROL Capt. Warner, an Imperial Airways pilot, who had been flying all night, at a point 50 miles south of the usual track, found the missing air liner 'City of Teharan' yesterday morning.

    The liner was surrounded by Arabs, who were most friendly, offering the air passengers water, and undertaking to do anything else in their power to assist. Four persons were on board, apparently all well. The reason for the forced landing was that the craft ran out petrol. Sufficient was transferred from Capt. Warner's machine to enable the stranded liner reach the Rutba post, while the passengers and mails were conveyed in Capt. Warner's machine to Bagdad, none the worse for their adventure.

    The wireless equipment of the stranded liner was working perfectly, but its messages were not picked up due to jamming caused by the multiplicity of messages between Bagdad and other stations on the desert route and the machines engaged in the search."


  • Wheeler,  Samuel Joseph

      Samuel Joseph Wheeler

     samuel_wheeler_in_1917.jpgin 1917



    b. Ascot 27 Mar 1898

    Flight Engineer 1924-27, pilot on Cairo-Delhi route 1927-30


  • White, Ernest Robert Bristow

      Capt Ernest Robert Bristow White




    from Flight, August 1941: "Capt. White joined the R.A.F. in 1921 as Boy Mechanic and left the service in December, 1930, with the rank of Sergeant Pilot. He joined Imperial Airways the following year, and in 1933 he was seconded as pilot to the Iraq Petroleum Company, which at that time were laying a 1,200 mile long oil pipe line from Haifa, in Palestine, to Kirkuk, Iraq.

    He was transferred to the European Division of Imperial Airways in 1935, and operated the London-Budapest route. It may be remembered that in 1936 Capt. White established a record by flying the 2,970 miles from London to Brindisi, via Marseilles, and back to London in 18 hours.

    On the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese war in 1937 he piloted pressmen from Alexandria to Penang, one of the longest charter flights on record. In the same year Capt. White represented Imperial Airways in Berlin at the international conference on ice formation, a subject on which he was an authority.

    He was seconded to Atfero in the spring of this year and had flown something like one million miles. On the first Atlantic flight in 1940 he acted as navigator. 

    He was amongst those killed when Liberator AM261 crashed into Goat Fell mountain on Isle of Arran after take-off from Heathfield Ayr on the 10 Aug 1941 (22 killed - 5 crew and 17 travelling as passengers)


  • Wilcockson, Arthur S

      Capt Arthur S Wilcockson




    One of the original 16 pilots of Imperial Airways in 1924

    RFC in WWI; flew the Folkestone - Cologne Army Mail in 1918-19.

    Handley Page Test Pilot 1920-24.

    October 1926: "FLYING OVER A STORM Capt A. S. Wilcockson, an Imperial Airways pilot, who flew from London to Amsterdam and back yesterday, reported on landing at Croydon that there is a severe storm all along the coast, and that he had observed several vessels, principally fishing boats, driven ashore on the Belgian and Dutch sands. On his return journey he counted eight vessels in distress on the shore."

    Jan 1928: "AIR LINER KILLS TWO ROOKS. BIRDS MISJUDGE DISTANCE. While flying a Handley-Page liner over Kent yesterday Captain A. S. Wilcockson, an Imperial Airways pilot, flew into a flock of rooks and killed two of them. He was at a height of 500 feet, and saw the rooks approaching him at the same level. They came steadily on, and made no attempt to avoid the air liner until within fifty feet. They then divided into two flocks to pass the machine.

    One bird in each flock misjudged the distance, and they were caught by the machine and killed. The air liner was undamaged."

     Awarded Master Pilot's Certificate in 1935

    Feb 1938: "PICK-A-BACK 'PLANE UP FOR TEST Atlantic Pilot Sees How It's Done. The Mayo composite aircraft made a second successful separation test flight at Rochester yesterday. Captain Lankaster Parker, chief test pilot of Short Brothers, who was in the control cabin of the lower component, had as passenger Captain A. S. Wilcockson, Imperial Airways Atlantic pilot."

     August 1940: "U.S. Bombers To Fly To Britain. The bombers will take off from Canada, and the flights will be supervised by Capt. A. S. Wilcockson, the famous Imperial Airways pilot, whose services have been lent to the Ministry of Aircraft Production. He arrived in Canada yesterday, along with Capt. D. C. T. Bennett, a veteran Imperial Airways pilot, and Wing Commander Griffith Powell, a former Imperial Airways Transatlantic pilot. Capt. Wilcockson, who served in the Flying Corps during the last war, made a number of survey flights across the Atlantic in 1937. In 1928 he made a record commercial liner flight, from London to Paris in eighty minutes."


  • Wilson, ??

      Capt Wilson




    Jan 1939: "BRITISH 'PLANE AS TARGET Imperial Airways Pilot's Signal. HONG KONG, Tuesday. Imperial Airways machine 'Delia' was fired upon west of Waichow Island, in the Gulf of Tonking, according to a signal picked up here today from Captain Wilson, the 'plane's pilot.

    The machine, which was apparently undamaged, later arrived and departed again from Hanoi on schedule. Two British passengers were on board. Their names are given as the Hon. Mark Watson and Mr A. G. Tully. Apparently the 'plane had come from Hong Kong. W

    Waichow Island is halfway across the Gulf of Tongking, between the Hainan Peninsula and French Indo-China. It is alleged that the firing was done by Japanese warships anchored near Waichow Island."


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