Category Archives: Flying Boats and Sea Planes

Lady Mary Heath ~ Extraordinary Female Aviator in the Roaring Twenties

Background and Inspiration to Fly

Mary Heath’s unfortunate start to life, when her father was found guilty of murdering her 220px-Mary,_Lady_Heathmother, did not seem to hamper her development and ambition. Brought up by her grandfather and two elderly aunts, she took an active part in sport and passed a degree in science in Ireland. In WW1 she became a dispatch rider, initially in England but then in France. In her early years her achievements were in sport rather than aviation. In 1925 she was part of a delegation to an Olympic Congress in Prague and her journey by aeroplane changed her life. (photo from Wikipedia)

Her achievements

In 1926 she became the first female aviator to be a commercial pilot by gaining an A licence and she also flew Shorts seaplanes. (Diana’s eyes light up here!) In January 1928 Mary Heath made her name known worldwide, by her solo flight in her Avian from Cape Town to the UK. (Celebrate by Tracey Curtis Taylor this winter – see my last post) In the same year she went to the USA where she hoped to gain a position with KLM, but her gender was against her. Undeterred she continued to work in aviation.

Notable difference

Lady Heath married her third husband Reggie Williams in Lexington Kentucky in 1930, with each marriage securing enough income to continue to fly. The pair returned to Ireland for a further wedding ceremony causing more notoriety, since Reggie was from Trinidad and inter-racial marriages were extremely rare. They both worked as aviation instructors for Iona National Airways.

Death

Mary had a most unfortunate end after such a glamorous life. She developed a serious drinking problem and died in London in 1939 at the age of 43 years – a sad end for a person who fought for equal opportunities in the public eye for so many years, whether it be gender, racial or social standing. She certainly had a story to inspire, although her demise was so very tragic.

For more information on Mary visit:

Wikipedia       Irish Historical Aviation        Eclectic Ephemera blogspot

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Filed under Early Flight, Events, Flying Boats and Sea Planes, Frivolous Flying Facts, Memoirs, Role of Women, WW1

Festive Christmas Deal ~99Cents 14th-20th December!

Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home, historical fiction set between 1910 and 1920 in

Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home

Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home

Southampton, the Solent area and The Channel Islands is 99Cents  for one week only on KINDLE.

~A HEARTFELT READ ~ L Simms Top 100 Reviewer!

          ~VERY ENJOYABLE BOOK~

                      ~ STRONG HISTORICAL NARRATIVE ~

~CHARACTERS DESCRIBED SO VIVIDLY~

Original Aspects of WW1

I was thrilled to receive my latest 5* review on Amazon.com:

I don’t normally read historical fiction, but I’m glad I took the leap with Ancasta. The passion and knowledge the writer possesses flows through the pages, and Ancasta probably has the best background research and world view of any book that I’ve read. A thoroughly enjoyable read, which took me to a place and time completely unknown to me, until now!”

MH84 ~ Please say hello by email sometime. I’d love to say thank you. You have made my day with your encouragement!

OR… A LAST MINUTE CHRISTMAS GIFT

Ancasta Guide me Swiftly Home would also make a great last minute Christmas gift in paperback too for anyone interested in

Historical Fiction

                                    The Great War and the role of Women

                                                                                                             Early Flying Boat

History of Southampton and Woolston

                                                                      a lover of Guernsey or Alderney………

Available in Waterstones West Quay, Southampton or on Amazon

Although the second in The Riduna Series Ancasta is written to stand alone!

and if you read it I would be truly grateful if you could give an honest review on Amazon, Goodreads or both. Please spread the word……………..RT or SHARE…….

Have a wonderful Christmas everyone!

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Filed under Book reviews, Book Shops, Channel Islands, Events, Flying Boats and Sea Planes, Historical Fiction, Southampton, The Great War, Woolston

John Shelton ~ Author of ‘Schneider Trophy to Spitfire’

Today I’m thrilled to have been in contact with John Shelton, the author of’Schneider Trophy to Spitfire,’ an excellent book I reviewed on an earlier post last year. In fact John got in touch with me following that post and has agreed to share with us some background information about his life and how he became interested in Supermarine. John writes:

Schneider Trophy to Spitfire by John Shelton

Schneider Trophy to Spitfire by John Shelton

‘I got as far as a Ph.D in Literature but began to tire of writing or talking about fiction. Renovating an Elizabethan manor house began to consume most of my time and energy and the solving of practical problems became more interesting – real things rather than imagined people. Like R.J., I had a

schoolboy interest in flying model aeroplanes and was soon drawing my own constructional plans (hence my 3-view drawings of Mitchell’s aircraft in my book).

On a chance visit to the Stoke Museum, I discovered that their Spitfire was to be re-housed, accompanied by a display. I volunteered to write the text for this display and was surprised to discover that Mitchell had begun designing aeroplanes for Supermarine as early as the 1920’s.

So, on retirement, I decided to write a full account of his aircraft as, again to my surprise, I found that there was only one book which related directly to his work and this was a sketchy and a rather amateur affair.

The above display activity had been given considerable help by the Solent-Sky Museum at Southampton and I was also encouraged in my later efforts by its Director, Sqn. Ldr. Alan Jones: “the book we’ve all been waiting for”.

I too felt that Mitchell deserved a dedicated account of his work, if only to show how the Spitfire came about – there are countless books about his famous fighter but no apparent interest in the man and how he had reached this design peak. There was also the surprising fact (to me as to most everyone else) that a man from the landlocked Midlands should design almost exclusively flying-boats, was virtually self-taught, and achieved success in his field at a very early age.

Being no stranger to writing extended studies, I felt I could do a reasonable job of collecting material (see my Bibliography) and of putting it together; and as I had also taught Communication as well as Industrial Archaeology, I hoped that I would be able to make a relatively technical story readable. Also, by this time, I had soloed in gliders and powered aircraft and so felt that I might have an insight into what the pioneers of flying had learned and were still learning about exploiting their new element.

Fortunately there were quite a number of books which had things to say about Mitchell’s aircraft and not a few by pilots who had flown them. These, and items scattered throughout other aviation literature, also provided many anecdotes about Mitchell which deserved collecting together as they became out of print or forgotten on dusty shelves. It was therefore very good news when Haynes Publishers accepted my MS, which – it has to be said – concentrated more on the machines than on the man: after all, they were the primary reason for an interest in the man and, as his reputation was only widely known after his death, no-one had thought beforehand to leave detailed information about  his life-story for future biographers.

Given the lack of any full accounts of Mitchell’s life, but also needing to correct his portrayal in the First of the Few film, I tried to steer a course between the known facts about his life and his designs; and, true to my early career, my book had a thesis – which was to trace the vital influence of the Schneider Trophy competitions upon the eventual production of the Spitfire.

Since the publication of Schneider Trophy to Spitfire, I have continued my interest in most things Mitchell and hope therefore that  an extended second edition might be eventually published. Meanwhile, my Blogs are a useful outlet for mature thoughts about the man and his designs as well as a device to keep his name before the general public.’

I would like to thank John for sharing the background to his writing. It’s fascinating looking back at the course of our lives and where it has taken us. John continues to write detailed and interesting posts about R.J.Mitchell and his designs on his own blog:

johnshelton.blogspot.co.uk

I wish him the best of luck with future projects. John’s book helped me enormously when researching for Ancasta and I still use it as a reference to check facts whilst researching for the next in my series.

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Filed under Early Flight, Flying Boats and Sea Planes, Southampton, Supermarine, Woolston