Dr Edward Whitehead Reid

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  b. 22 Jun 1883 in Canterbury Kent

A GP (as was his father). "He had a fine athletic figure, and was a good all-round athlete".

In WWI he served as surgeon in the Duchess of Westminster Hospital in France, and later in Egypt. Taught to fly by pilot friends, he bought his first plane (G-EAFH, an Avro 504) in 1922, then the same year acquired the first privately-owned SE5a (G-EAZT) before swapping it for another (G-EBCA) which he then raced in the 1923 Aerial Derby. This latter aircraft was somewhat underpowered at the time and apparently could only just reach 65mph. (He finished last, even on handicap).

He bought his first SE5a for £30 from an enterprising mechanic who had been given 5 war-surplus ones to smash, but instead carefully took them apart, piled them up to look "like firewood", bought the lot for a fiver at auction and then carefully re-assembled them.

He housed his aircraft in his own hangar on his own aerodrome, flew to "just about every air meeting of importance", and often took part in races.

He was a friend of the novelist Joseph Conrad, and in 1927 recalled him saying after his first flight that flying was easy "compared to rounding Cape Horn in a sailing vessel in a storm". But then, apparently Conrad said that about everything, except writing a novel.

Later, a Flight Lieutenant with 601 (County of London) Bomber Squadron and President of the Kent Gliding Club.

d. 20 Oct 1930, aged 47, near Maidstone, Kent after he crashed during an attempted forced landing in his Westland Widgeon II G-EBJT 'Wendy'. He and his passenger, 21-year old Irene Burnside, were returning from a gliding exhibition and had run into bad weather. She was killed outright, he died a day later from his injuries.

 

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