On our way home from Cornwall I was enthusiastic to visit the Fleet Air Arm Museum at RNAS Yeovilton in Somerset. As I explained in my talk last Monday, I never imagined I’d become a ‘flying boat’ anorak, but I was so excited to see models of the first ever aircraft carriers during World War One.
Did you know that the first pilot in the world to take off from a moving ship was in May 1912, which is why this post is scheduled to go out a day later than usual?
Forget about the jets which zoom of aircraft carriers today, (if we had any,) and try to imagine the flimsy air machines from back in those days. Yes, it was an amazing feat of daring on the part of the pilot and advanced engineering skills on the part of the designer, don’t you think?
Commander Samson flew a Short pusher amphibian bi plane, that’s one that floats on the water as well as fly to the uninitiated, from the battleship HMS Hibernia just off the coast of Portland, Dorset. This happened during the Naval Review in May 1912 and must have been quite a spectacular sight to all who witnessed the event. In fact, so impressed was King George V that Commander Sampson dined with him on board his royal yacht the Victoria and Albert.
Returning to the museum, I was also pleased to see the Supermarine Walrus, restored to its original glory, though I’m not sure whether it is airworthy. Does anyone know? This was designed by the famous RJ Mitchel, who, of course, designed the Spitfire and it was built in 1939 in Woolston, Southampton.