Capt Herbert John 'Horse' Horsey




One of the original 16 pilots of Imperial Airways in 1924

b. Cheshunt, Herts 26 Nov 1899

RNAS and RAF in WWI, then joined Supermarine, followed by British Marine Co. as a flying-boat captain on the route from Southampton to Guernsey. When BMC became part of the newly-formed Imperial Airways in 1924, he was one of their founder-pilots.

In December 1926, he reported seeing a 'Mock Sun': "While approaching Ostend at a height of a thousand feet, shortly after 4 p.m. yesterday Captain H. H. Horsey, Imperial Airways pilot, flying a Handley Page Napier air liner from Cologne to London, had the unusual experience seeing two suns in the sky.

The two suns were exact replicas, even to the colouring of the clouds around them. Captain Horsey imagined that was "seeing things," but was reassured when his engineer, who was seated beside him, said that he also could see this phenomenon.

The Air Ministry meteorological expert at Croydon Aerodrome, after receiving a report of the pilot's experience, declared the occurrence to be a very rare phenomenon known to meteorologists as a 'mock sun.'"

(Ahem), apparently this expert was referring to a 'parhelion'; "Parhelia occur when the sun or moon shines through a thin cirrus cloud composed of hexagonal ice crystals... (they) most commonly appear during the winter in the middle latitudes."

Here's what they must have seen:


In June 1927, he created a new record for big passenger aeroplanes, by flying from London to Cologne in one hundred and sixty minutes, at an average speed of 130 miles an hour.

Address in 1932: 138 King's Hall Rd, Beckenham, Kent

A flight commander in the ATA in WWII, but died 6th January 1941 after he hit cables and crashed on 2nd January,  2.5 miles NW of Wroughton ferrying a Curtiss Mohawk.

G.P. Olley wrote in his obituary: "An atmosphere of gloom settled over the war-time base of British Overseas Airways Corporation when the tragic news came throught that Captain H. J. Horsey ('Horse' to his friends, and that meant every one) had died suddenly from the injuries he had received in an accident some days before."

Gordon reported that, a few days before, "poor old 'Horse' was concerned that he had broken his clean record - up to then, he had never had a major crash, or harmed a hair of the head of a single passenger."

Herbert is buried in Hatfield Heath, Essex.


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