Frivolous Flying Facts Number 2 – A Pilot in a Bowler Hat 1911

We move on in time now to 1911 and this could possibly be one of the first stunts ever carried out by a pilot. Tommy Sopwith, a young dare devil pilot took off in his Bleriot monoplane, much like the one which was the first to fly the English Channel back in 1909 (see video clip of the oldest plane in the world still capable of flight witnessed at The Shuttleworth Collection.)

The History of Aviation – A personal journey of discovery

 He was already dipping and diving, not only impressing a crowd but stretching his flimsy aircraft to the limit, when he took off one day in a bowler hat; not the most sensible headwear for an open cockpit. Realising this, too late, he flew back over his little hanger at Brooklands and tossed the hat out, to the delight of the crowd watching him from below, pulling immediately into a steep climb. I found this wonderful little story, which I have paraphrased for your delight, in the authorised biography of Sir Thomas Sopwith by Alan Bramston. I am sure you all know that Tommy Sopwith went on to be famous, well known for many great aircraft which bear his name and I will write a more serious account of his accomplishments at a later date.

Meanwhile, I will finish with a short video of a 1916 Sopwith Triplane, of only five years later, also witnessed regularly flying at Old Walden as part of the Shuttlworth Collection.


I do apologize if the links are not working correctly. I’m having technical problems downloading videos, but i’ll try again tomorrow!

Here are some photos instead. One of a 1916 Sopwith Pup. The Dixie is hiding behind it.


Filed under Book reviews, Early Flight, Frivolous Flying Facts

2 responses to “Frivolous Flying Facts Number 2 – A Pilot in a Bowler Hat 1911

  1. quick question: just how many visitors do you get to your domain please?

    • Normal posts 50+. My highest rate for a post this year was just over 300 in the first day. People seem to be able to locate my posts through google sometimes a couple of years after by tagging. Couldn’t follow the link to your blog by the way

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