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A History of Aeronautics by Marsh and Vivian

Who took his flying brevet at Brooklands in November of 1910


Geoffrey

de Havilland, though of later rank, counts high among designers of British machines. He qualified for his brevet as late as February, 1911, on a biplane of his own construction, and became responsible for the design of the BE2, the first successful British Government biplane. On this he made a British height record of 10,500 feet over Salisbury Plain, in August of 1912, when he took up Major Sykes as passenger. In the war period he was one of the principal designers of fighting and reconnaissance machines.

F. Handley Page, who started in business as an aeroplane builder in 1908, having works at Barking, was one of the principal exponents of the inherently stable machine, to which he devoted practically all his experimental work up to the outbreak of war. The experiments were made with various machines, both of monoplane and biplane type, and of these one of the best was a two-seater monoplane built in 1911, while a second was a larger machine, a biplane, built in 1913 and fitted with a 110 horse-power Anzani engine. The war period brought out the giant biplane with which the name of Handley Page is most associated, the twin-engined night-bomber being a familiar feature of the later days of the war; the four-engined bomber had hardly had a chance of proving itself under service conditions when the war came to an end.

Another notable figure of the early period was 'Tommy' Sopwith, who took his flying brevet at

Brooklands in November of 1910, and within four days made the British duration record of 108 miles in 3 hours 12 minutes. On December 18th, 1910, he won the Baron de Forrest prize of L4,000 for the longest flight from England to the Continent, flying from Eastchurch to Tirlemont, Belgium, in three hours, a distance of 161 miles. After two years of touring in America, he returned to England and established a flying school. In 1912 he won the first aerial Derby, and in 1913 a machine of his design, a tractor biplane, raised the British height record to 13,000 feet (June 16th, at Brooklands). First as aviator, and then as designer, Sopwith has done much useful work in aviation.

These are but a few, out of a host who contributed to the development of flying in this country, for, although France may be said to have set the pace as regards development, Britain was not far behind. French experimenters received far more Government aid than did the early British aviators and designers--in the early days the two were practically synonymous, and there are many stories of the very early days at Brooklands, where, when funds ran low, the ardent spirits patched their trousers with aeroplane fabric and went on with their work with Bohemian cheeriness. Cody, altering and experimenting on Laffan's Plain, is the greatest figure of them all, but others rank, too, as giants of the early days, before the war brought full recognition of the aeroplane's potentialities.

One of the first men actually to fly in England, Mr J. C. T. Moore-Brabazon, was a famous figure in the days of exhibition flying, and won his reputation mainly through being first to fly a circular mile on a machine designed and built in Great Britain and piloted by a British subject. Moore-Brabazon's earliest flights were made in France on a Voisin biplane in 1908, and he brought this machine over to England, to the Aero Club grounds at Shellness, but soon decided that he would pilot a British machine instead. An order was placed for a Short machine, and this, fitted with a 50-60 horse-power Green engine, was used for the circular mile, which won a prize of L1,000 offered by the Daily Mail, the feat being accomplished on October 30th, 1909. Five days later, Moore-Brabazon achieved the longest flight up to that time accomplished on a British-built machine, covering three and a half miles. In connection with early flying in England, it is claimed that A. V. Roe, flying 'Avro B,',' on June 8th, 1908, was actually the first man to leave the ground, this being at Brooklands, but in point of fact Cody antedated him.


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