The History of Aviation – A personal journey of discovery

A few years ago, if you had predicted that I would be fascinated by old aircraft and that I would carry out a substantial amount of research into flying boats and early aircraft carriers; would be a member of the SVAS, the Shuttleworth Veteran Aviation Society and also  regularly attend air shows, I would have been highly amused.

Don’t misunderstand me. I have always been interested in history, especially social history, and thinking about the lives of the people who flew in, worked on or maintained these aircraft, has made them even more precious to me.

On Saturday I was privileged to attend a Meet the Pilot Flying Day at

Shuttleworth, and if you enjoy air museums and have not already done so,
visiting this airfield in the heart of the Bedfordshire countryside is a must.

Firstly we strolled among the aircraft, pulled out from their hanger museum for our delight. When I look closely at the 1938 Hawker Hind, I thought of my elderly friend Norman who, at 102 years of age still remembers being a Capstan machine operator, making nuts and bolts at Hawkers back in the thirties.

Then, reaching further back in time to the 1918 Bristol Fighter F2b, I can’t help but look closely at the wings and admire the webbed stitching, probably carried out by the first women allowed to work in the factories during WW1.

It was an amazing day. Half way through the superb exhibition of flight, the commentator willed us to concentrate on the air sacks across the field, and within an hour our wish was granted and the air was still; perfect for flying the Old Edwardians.

As the 1912 Blackburn Type D Monoplane, the oldest British aircraft still capable of flying in the world, took off we gasped with pleasure, enjoying every moment of the display. Then, as the sun dipped below the cloud line, leaving a sunset of many coloured hues, the 1909 Bleriot XI lifted off the ground, filling us with a collective sense that we were experiencing a never to be forgotten moment in history.

The BleriotXI 1909 – September 24th 2011

My next novel to reach the press will refect my growing interest in the history of aviation.


Filed under Early Flight, The Shuttleworth Collection

2 responses to “The History of Aviation – A personal journey of discovery

  1. Diana, a lovely account of a very enjoyable day at Old Warden. It’s inspiring to see visitors getting enthused about the place, it reminds me how awestruck I was thirty odd years ago when I first visited. There really is some magic that lingers over the airfield on a still evening when the “Eds” come out to fly. It’s hard to describe, it’s better experienced first-person. I’ve put together a sequence of photos of the Blackburn/Scud II pairing on PlaneTalk some other photos of the evening can be found on my Flickr account

    • Thanks for getting in touch Rob and for sharing your links. I have been so fortunate to have encouragement and support from John and Richard from the Shuttleworth archives and in time I intend to write several blogs about Shuttleworth, as soon as my next novel is released. I have only watched the Edwardians on two occasions, once on the anniversary of the famous Bleriot flight across the Channel in 1909 and last Saturday. Anyone who loves aircraft or history or both should make a note in their plans to attend a flying day at least once in their lifetime…… then they’ll be hooked for life!
      All the best

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