Air Mail

Gliding Achievements


That delightful book "Soaring Flight" by the late Terence Horsley has a good account of the early attempts at crossing the Channel in a glider.

As long ago as June 1931 Robert Kronfeld was towed to 10,000 feet over the coast of France and glided direct to Dover. In 1937 Philip Wills flew from Dunstable to Dover but had to abandon the attempt to cross through inadequate height, an attempt a year later by Kit Nicholson meeting the same fate, and Mr Wills had another similar experience in September 1938.

On April 22nd 1939 Geoffrey Stephenson took off from Dunstable at 2.55 p.m. in his Kirby Gull, crossed the Thames east of London, and was down to 1,000 feet when he reached Hawkinge; here he was about to land when he found a strong thermal and climbed to 6,000 feet before heading for France, landing at Le Wast, some ten miles east of Boulogne at 5.35.

There is no mention of "Sandra" or Mr. Beardmore; the machine shown is not a high performance one and I doubt if it could have made the trip; perhaps the big hooker the front was used to attach a cable for an aerotow?

Upwood, Cambs. G. E. Pinkerton (Dr.)



With reference to the flight by Lissant Beardmore (Motor Sport February 1982 p. 193), Ivan confirm that this was indeed the first channel crossing by glider. The Canadian opera-singer piloted his Professor sailplane, "Sandra", from Lympne, Kent to Saint-Inglevert Aerodrome near Boulogne in 90 minutes on 19th June 1931.

London NW11, Michael Herridge



This photograph taken at an Air Rally at Ronaldsway, Isle of Man, about 1936, shows a Cierva (not Curva) Gyro-plane, the engine I think was an Armstrong-Siddeley 7-cylinder (? Lynx). I first saw one of these at Hooton Park, Cheshire about 1928/9, when Senor Cierva was touring the country on demonstration flights.

The drill seemed to be, after warming-up the engine, to taxi round the field until the requisite revs were obtained on the Gyro and then try for take-off. Not vertically, as per present-day helicopters, but fairly vertically, depending on conditions and wind direction.

Penwortham. Lancs. S. W. Layfield