Your recent issues have been very evocative of memory for the writer, particularly the references to early aviation, because my father, Mr. Ernest Brown, purchased an Avro 504K biplane from Col. G. L. P. Henderson in the Brooklands days. At that time the Colonel was running a 45-h.p. Renault. Our Avro was flown up to Lancashire by Jock Anderson, also referred to in your notes, and he mentioned that the Renault was tremendously fast, but had a habit of discarding front wheels at speed. This was early in 1930, and both the Colonel and Jock were killed in flying accidents very soon afterwards, the latter whilst giving instruction over Croydon. An eye witness told me that the aircraft was flying upside-down for a while with poor Jock hanging on by his hands.
Turning now to Mr. Lister’s letter in the December issue regarding his uncle Gustav Hamel, if Mr. Lister cares to write to me I will be pleased to let him have a photograph of his uncle in his aircraft, which he can copy. This photograph was taken in a visit to Burnley by Gustav at the invitation of my father, who always stated that he (Gustav) was the first man to loop the loop. Gustav flew from the local cricket ground and on one excursion cut through nearby telephone wires. From my photograph, I would say that the engine in this aircraft is an air-cooled Vee-eight and the period would be 1913.
To conclude, I would refer to Mr. W. A. Emmett’s letter in the same issue regarding the Crossley demonstrator. My father held the Willys Overland Crossley agency from 1927 to 1929, and the Mr. De Solla referred to by Mr. Emmett was still working for them at that time. I seem to remember his having mentioned the incident recalled by Mr. Emmett. Other interesting agencies held by my father included Gregoire (Little Greg), Rhode, Autocrat, Lea Francis, Vulcan and Salmson.
There was certainly much more variety and colour in those days, and I do not think the modern age has offered very much in the way of compensation for what has been lost.
John R. Brown.
[The letters relating to early aviation had an astonishingly large and enthusiastic response, so that we feel almost prepared to launch Aero Sport! Those relating to Gustav Hamel have been sent on to Mr. Lister.—Ed.]