AND NOW VINTAGE AEROPLANES
AND NOWVINTAGE AEROPLANES
one wit() Itab it it ally does his As motoring in a vintage sports car,
and his pleasure flying in a vintage aeroplane, I was naturally most interested in the recent references to the older types of aircraft in MoTou SPORT. All this set nu, wondering as to how
many vintage aircraft are now flying in t his country possessing current Certificates of Airworthiness, as distinct from those other historical types which are brought oat occasionally for display purposes under temporary Permits to Fly. As a resultof this I spent an -evening going through the Register, of British Civil Aircraft, and herewith is a résumé
of my findings.
To begin with I found that a ‘Vintage Aeroplane Club would liardly be such an auspicious affair as its car and motorcycle contemporaries, for there are on the Register only eight aircraft which would qualify under the pre-1931 ruling. Beeflutie of this I decided to extend the qualifying date to 1935, whilst keeping an eye open for anything of interest which Might. come just outside the period.
For the preservation of by far the oldest aircraft On the Register we have to thank The Hawker Aircraft Co., who, to their eternal credit, still run G-ElfM11, a 1024 Hawker Cygnet I with a Bristol Cherub engine. Its current C. of A. is valid up In May, 1951, although its previous C. Of A. expired in 1929, aml its first C. of A. was issued in 1926. 1 very much hope that somehOdy will be able to provide for us some more information about this, for evidently we have here no mere minicum pieve.
From 1924 we go straight to 1028 to Ii,,,! f hat our second oldest. aircraft is a Westland Widp,eon 111 owned by N. C. Anderson of Stranraer. its registration letters being I remember seeing 110; aireraft. myself in 1948, Iii it unfortunately Os last C. of A. .expired in 1949, and sine.. then I understand it has been strung up in the roof of one of its owner’s barns, he having gone all modern with an Auster. One
hopes that the Widgeon and its Cirrus Hermes engine won’t have to perish there.
The year .1929 has only one representative in G-AAI1W, a German Klemm L25 IA with a SaIntson engine, belonging to G. R. Lush of Hastings. This is in current use. 193o
..The year 1930 has bequeathed us no fewer than live aeroplanes. the oldest. according to its registration date in May of that year, being the 11.11. ofa; Moth G-AAWO, belonging to ‘1’. H. :Marshall and Partner of Dorset. This is oil(‘ of the famous wooden fuselage. Gipsy Moths with the right-way-up Gipsy I engines designed by Major Frank HalfOrd, -who raced his Halford Special and Alvis cars at Brooklands in the mid-twenties. Amy Johnson flew to Australia in o Gipsy Moth, hut her mount, “Jason,” is now in captivity in the Science Museum.
and therefore out-Side the scope of fhis art iele.
G-A.-M0 used to belong to Captain Fresson. of Highland Airways fame, who was extremely -attached to it, and flew it all over the place in Scotland. I flew it myself this year, when it taught me all about. the charm of the vintage aeroplane. I must admit that its outside exlutust appealed very much to the schoolboy in me; in rather the same way as did the huge six-inch rev.counter-of an Anzani Fraser-Nash I once owned.
Equipped with racing exhaust stubs in place of the log pipe. G-AAWO flew in the Daily Express South Coast Air Race this year, and, although it was not placed in the final result., it was leading for most of the race front its limit position. June. 1930, saw the registration of C-AAZP, a Puss Moth now in current use by Autowork, Ltd., of NVinehester, and two more aircraft were registered in July, one being the Miles 101 Martlet, now owned by the Ultra Light Aircraft Association of London. This, -I believe,
was the original Miles -aircraft, a single. seater biplane, G-AAYX, but it does not seem to be in use just at present.
The other aircraft was another Gipsy Iengined D.H. 00G, registration G-ABAG, inevitably known as The Bag,” which appears under my own name. Bought for the-same price as you would pay these days for an old motor-cycle, it was thoroughly rebuilt by my partner in the enterprise, Eric Hodson, who did practically all the work with his own hands, whilst I stood by holding a hammer, and trying to look intelligent. Eric is that comparatively rare combination, a licensed aircraft engineer who is also an enthusiastic pilot, and, years ago at Brooklands, he used to look after John Grierson’s very celebrated Gipsy Moth “Range et Noir,” the exploits of which, I think, are not so well known as they deserve to be.
We entered “The Bag” for the Grosvenor Trophy Race at Newcastle last year, but alas, after holding its own very well in the first lap it broke several of its rocker bracket bolts in the second, and I had to force-land it on a disused aero drome whilst it emitted noises reminiscent of a Super Sports Morgan three-wheeler. The bolts which broke were new ones, and since we’ve put back the original 20 year-old ones we’ve had no more trouble.
The fifth aircraft to be registered in 1980 was another Puss Moth with a Gipsy III engine, G-ABDF, which received its original C. of A. in August, and is now owned and flown by J. M. Banks and Partner Of London.
Another five aireraft have survived from the 1981 registrations which include, first of all, a brace of Puss Moths, G-AEOA, owned by Airways Aero Associations of London, and G-AHLO, belonging to R. Potgeiter of High NS’ycombe. Then there is another wooden MG Moth, G-AILT.J, belonging to W. It. Suffern of London, but this is fitt ed with the more powerful Gipsy II engine, which is
similar in design to the Gipsy I, but pulls out More horses. I fancy that G-ABJJ used to belong to the flying club at Fairoaks, but under its present ownership it, too, flew in the South COlLst Air Race, and was a non-starter in the. Grosvenor Trophy. For the preservation Of the other two 1931 aircraft we are once again heartily indebted to the Hawker Aircraft Co. for not only are they still running G-ASITA, the only Hawker 4111 Tons “fit, but alsoG-ABMR, the last remaining Hawker Hart .2. The Toni Tit, of course, is a light aeroplane, but one is, surprised and delighted to -find that an old Service. typelike the Hart is still running, a type which will be well remembered by those MOTOR SPORT readers who were Service pilots before the war, or who did their training in South Africa during the war. What a pity other Manufacturers have not followed Hawker’s example. as the well-loved Service aircraft of pre-war days are practically all just a memory now. There is, I believe, no surviving example of the Gauntlet or Gladiator in this .country, for example, yet this Hart is still flying
When we remember that Hawker’s are also still flying the last Of the thirdcanes under a civil registration, we can only conclude that there are influential people in the Hawker concern who have very much the right ideas.
Only three aircraft seem to have survived from 1032, two of them being single-seater Comper C.L.A. 7 Swifts. G-ACTF, belonging to Ron Clear, the test, pilot, of Purbrook, .and G-ABUS belonging to A. L. Cole of Goring. Both these aircraft are very well known, having appeared in several recent races and air rallies. Then we have just one more Gipsy Moth, the Gipsy 1-engined D.H. COG of M. C. Harley Of St. Neots. This aircraft is apparently serviced at Old Warden, where the Shuttleworth Collection Jives, ‘SO it must be tended by sympathetic hands.
When one remembers the enormous plpalarity of Gipsy Moths before the war (they were the standard equipment of the majority of the flying clubs in the mi(l-thirties) one is rather shaken to find that only four examples still survive. What happened to all the rest ?
G-ABYA is the registration of Harley’s aeroplane.
The year 1933 has left us four aeroplanes, according to the Register, though I have personal knowledge of a fifth, which should be returning t the Register before very long.
There can be few amongst the prent generation of pilots who haven’t flown a Tiger Moth at aome time or another, so it is interesting to find that the oldest surviving, example was first registered. in 1933, and that G-ACDI is still earning its keep by working for Air Service Training at ‘Iambic.
Giro Aviation, of Southport, have the satisfactionof knowing that they operate the only two D.H. Fox Moths Which appear in the Register, G-ACCB and G-ACEJ. The Fox Moth was the ideal aircraft for the family man who was still determined to. enjoy his flying, for he .could sit happily in his open cockpit whilst his family sat face to face in the railway-carriage sort of cabin which was situated in front of, and below, the pilot. Best of all, Papa was able to make sure his brood was all present from time to time during the journey by lifting up a flap and peering at them through a hole, rather as the hansom cabmen of Victorian times used to do.
The Fox Moth was also favoured by record breakers without family ties, •who. would fill the cabin with an extra petrol tank instead of a family. John Grierson did this when he installed a 55-gallon tank for his successful solo trip across the Arctic Air Route front England to New York via the Greenland lee Cap in 1934. The Fox Moth, also enjoyed raving successes, with its single Gipsy Major engine,’ and that it was a re;• markable design is proved by the fact that a few have been built. in Canada since the war, the one concession to modernity being a ‘nibble canopy over the cockpit.
In June, 1938, G-ACHP, an Avro Club Cadet fitted with a Gipsy Major engine, was first registered, and this seventeen year old aeroplane is still doing a useful job of work Oil communications duties for a well-known aircraft firm. Messrs. Saunders-Roe of the Isle of Wight.
The other 1933 aeroplane Iknow aboutis another Avro Cadet G-ADIE, which is Of very vintage appearance, being a twoseater biplane with an ArtnstrongSiddeley Genet radial engine. This aeroplane was flown across here from Ireland for C. of A. overhaul after being stored for ten years.
The 1934 list contains eight aeroplanes. of which five are Leopard Moths. , G-ACKW belongs to F. T. Bingham of Homey, G-ACLL is owned by C. -P. L. Godsal of London, and H. F. Buckmaster of Taplow flies G-AlYS, all of these aircraft being in current use. Then,
once again, we find a manufacturer who makes use of his old products, for G-ACMA and GACMN are both operated by De Havillands of Hatfield.
Blackburn’s, too, deserve commendation, for they have in current use another 1934 aeroplane in GACL13, a side-by-side. Blackburn 13-2 Trainer I, at Brough.
And lastly we have two rotating wing aircraft, G-ACUU, one of those pleasantly vintage-looking open Ciervit C30A Autogiros, this example owned and (Iowa by G. C. Baker of Ludlow, and G-ACYE. another aircraft of the same type, also with an Armstrong Civet I engine, owned by Mrs. M. M axwe I-Cluinnellof Northampton, though at the time of writing G-ACYE hasn’t got. a current C. of A.
Guy Baker, with whom I flew in a Tipsy this sununer, is a great rotating wing enthusiast, in other words a sort of Chain Gangster of the air, and he uses his Autogiro for both business and pleasure purposes. Rotating wing enthusiasts all know each other, of course, and When they are teaching each other to fly in a strong wind they have been known to find themselves going backwards on the approach !
It is not substantially true that all the Royal Air Force pilots during the war who found themselves engaged in flying Autogiros had no front teeth, but it is a fact that the stick on these machines hangs down front the Sky instead Of corning up through the floor, and it is possible, if the pilot doesn’t look what he’s doing, for the Stick to oscillate backwards and forwards in a violent and threatening nutnner. 1935
The year 1935 gives us a rather formidable list Of 17 aeroplanes, but I think it is worth running through them as some of them are quite interesting.
To begin with we run into a spate of Miles models, a make which Imsn’t bothered us since the little Martlet of 1930. There are two well-known racing machines, G-ADGP, the famous M-2-1, Speed Six of Ron Paine of NVolverhamp• ton, an extremely fast maeltine which one might almost call t he ” Paine Special,” and G-ADNL, tile )15 Sparrowhawk of G. G. M. Alington of London. There are tWo Falcons. GADFII, of D. E. Bianchi of AsIkford, and G-ADLI of J. W. Ilaggas of Hatfield, and lastly comes the Hawk Major. G-ADMW, ()I’ T. IL ShipSide of Nott ingham.
Of De Havilland products we have three Tiger Moths. G-ADI A and G-A1/1.1, owned by Brooklands Aviation of Weybridge, and G-ADIII of L. D. Tr:11)pin of London ; four I lornet Moths, G-ADLY of Viscountess Mat ri Bury of Newtownards Ina current C. of A.). G-A1)K.111 of Mrs. M. K. Wilberforce and Partner of Essex. G-ADJV of .1. J. Lister of Doncaster, and, lastly, G-ADKI: of C. 13. Mills of London. This last aeroplane has belonged to the famous Mills circus family for many years, and is finished in the Bertram Mills’ circus colours of red and green. Only one Rapide has qualified for our vintage era, G-ACPP belonging to Yellow Air Taxis of Stratford-on-Avon, and a De Havilland rata avis is G-ACZP, the D.1I. 86 with four Gipsy Six engines,
belonging to Bowzmiker, Ltd., of Bournemouth. This has no current C. of A. Lastly we have an interesting aeroplane, G-ADHE, a D.H. 60G8 Moth Major owned by S. H. Wood Of Blackpool. This being one of the light wooden fuselage Moths fitted with the relatively powerful Gipsy Major inverted engine, it should, I imagine, be the most potent open Moth of them
Cierva’s of Southampton have got a C30A Autogiro, G-A1OC, and as a matter interest one more of these machines 6; now being flown (appropriately, if oddly) nv llola Towels, Ltd., of Birmingham. This machine, G-AIITZ, first appeared on the Register after the war.
Returning to 1935 we complete our list with the only BA. .Swallow to make our vintage grade in G-ADPS, belonging to F. G. E. Walker andF. W. Thompson of Hythe, but, jumping for a moment to 1987, I feel I must add that in that year what is apparently the only remaining Avro Tutor was registered, G-AIISA; belonging to J. Neasham of Co. Durham.
That, then, is the lot. and although I don’t pretend that this list is either exhaustive, or accurate, I have been as painstaking its my natural indolence will allow me to be. In any ease I am convinced that it is worth making a record of these older aeroplanes and their owners, for just as many of us are cheered by the sight Of a vintage car on the road, so, outside the flying club, it is good to see something a 1nit different. amongst the usual run of modern aircraft like Austers, Messengers,
ProetuiN. and so fort h.