Pre-1914 Hendon

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Sir,
Your correspondent George Grigs need no longer wonder whether there are any more senile readers who can recall the early looping-the-loop demonstrations at Hendon. I was there on the last Saturday of November, 1913, when B. C. Hucks demonstrated the act, flying a rotary-engined Bleriot monoplane. Later it was announced by megaphones that Gustav Hamel was going to attempt looping on his Moraine-Saulnier monoplane. His first attempt was abortive and resulted in a tail slide, but shortly afterwards he completed a successful loop and landed, having had enough for one day.

Benfield Charles Hucks took up flying in 1911 after he had completed a motor engineering apprenticeship at the Thorneycroft factory at Basingstoke. During the 1914-1918 War he was in the RFC spending most of his time on test and experimental flying. He died in the influenza scourge which swept Britain in 1918. Gustav Hamel entered the Aerial Derby of 1914, for which purpose he ordered a new Moraine-Saulnier monoplane. On collecting the new machine from the French factory he had two forced landings due to engine trouble. In spite of this warning he attempted the crossing of the Channel. His remains were found later, identification being through his flying jacket.

Hamel was not a German—he was brought up in this country and educated at Eton. His father was a distinguished physician and by appointment to the Royal household. His family was of Scandinavian origin. Amongst his special cars I remember seeing him arrive at Hendon on a two-seater bolster-tank Mercedes.

Francis A. Kappey.
Ryde, IoW.