Wings over East Yorkshire

Report on meeting held 4th January 2016

Prior Rick Hudson welcomed members and guests and wished all a Happy New Year. He congratulated a member who had received an OBE in the New Year’s honours list. He then introduced the speaker Bro David Mooney, stone mason and eminent local historian. His talk for this, the Charles Brear Memorial Evening, was entitled “Wings over East Yorkshire”.

Bro David admitted a fascination for all things mechanical and aeroplanes in particular. As a stone mason he has come across many dedications which have led him to discover interesting historical facts. One such was a plaque dedicated to the “Flying Man” who in 1733 died and was buried at Pocklington church after a Geronimo line stunt went wrong.

Bro David continued his exploration of the timeline of flight with Sir George Caley who lived in Brompton near Scarborough. Active around 1800, he is regarded world wide as the father of aeronautics. A depiction of the glider he built is engraved into a gatepost on his estate.

Bro David showed a Victorian poster advertising balloon rides a Bridlington, and also a photograph of the balloon escaping from its tether near the Spa, with a man dangling from a rope. The balloon was recovered but apparently no one took up the offer of a balloon ride after that.

As early as 1910, a Bleriot machine paid a visit to Filey and soon after a flying school was established there. Robert Blackburn took a monoplane he had designed to Filey and Bridlington.  In 1913 Harold Blackburn (no relation to Robert) ascended above Bridlington with Isla Tudor, the daughter of the manager of the Spa. She became the world’s youngest aviatrix. Sadly Isla was to die in the Spanish flu epidemic a few years later.

Bro David showed a photograph of the WW1 Royal Navy air station set up on Hornsea Mere. From there Lieutenant Iams, in his Fairy Amble “Jabberwocky”, landed a Danes Dyke with mechanical trouble. The ‘plane was taken to Bridlington harbour as another photograph clearly showed. Airships in the “NS” series were also regularly seen over Bridlington patrolling the east coast for U-boats.  Bro David told of the sad end of airship NS11.

Bro David’s talk, illustrated with rare photographs, took us to the 1970’s with too many local references to detail here. He included local WW1 flying heroes, the Howden airship base and the R38 crash, Amy Johnson, some Blackburn company products, a spectacular crash at Scarborough Castle in an air race, Laurence of Arabia’s suggestions for an air base in Bridlington harbour, trials with large seaplanes in Bridlington Bay, the Airspeed factory in York recently demolished, Sir Alan Cobham’s flying circus and his frustrated efforts to establish an aerodrome at Bridlington, Carnaby airfield WW2 exploits and later use for aircraft trials and experiments, Lissett and Catfoss airfields, and the Driffield airfield meteor pilot training school and their losses.

The vote of thanks was given by Bro John Bapty. Bro John mentioned that his father had flown with Cobham looking for a suitable airfield location for Leeds. He thanked Bro David for his entertaining and detailed coverage of these local events illustrated with wonderful and rare photographs.