A-Z of industries
Airfields and early aviation
by Lawrence Hill
(Page created 14/08/08. Last updated 25/06/09)
In the 19th century, flying
with passengers was entirely with balloons.
In 1825 Charles Green was
making successful balloon ascents and taking up a brave paying public. The sites
for such flights were confined to towns such as Kendal, Carlisle and anywhere
where there was a co-operative gas works.
In 1889, a ’Professor’
Higgins and a Miss Le Voy were making balloon ascents, often to 4000ft, when
Miss Le Voy would descend by parachute. Hysterical crowds of 2 to 3000 people
No organised air transport
In 1903 in the USA the
Wright brothers achieved sustained flight, however short.
After this, brave experimentation was going on in various parts of the
world – and in Cumbria. In 1908 the success of Count von Zeppelin in Germany, who had made
a 12 hour flight over the Swiss Alps, galvanised the Admiralty to ask Vickers in
Barrow to build an airship. They
were given plans for an unproved design designated HMA1.
This was not a success but Vickers went on to build successful airships
much used in World War I.
Both before and after WWI
the main centre for flying in Cumbria was on Windermere.
Here the Northern Aircraft Company was established with a club, hangars
and workshops. This was at Hill of Oaks on the eastern shore of Windermere,
south of Bowness. In 1918, after WWI,
there was a surge of ex-RAFC pilots buying surplus aircraft to give passenger
flights. They moved from place to
place hoping to gain trade.
Prior to World War II there
were no organised air transport services in Cumbria.
In 2008 only Carlisle at
Crosby in Eden may have a commercial future, having been bought and upgraded by
Air Stobart, an off-shoot of the Eddie Stobart transport company.
Two well-established pilot training organisations are based at Carlisle.
At the disused RAF airfield at Kirkbride, some training is carried out on
gyro-copters plus a thriving flying club.
A potted history of this airfield near Barrow-in-Furness.
Flying Boats & Fellow Travellers
A website charting the history of the Sunderland Flying Boat factory that once stood on the shores of Windermere, and the nearby settlement specially constructed to house the factory workers and their families.
Lakeland aviation and airfields : Ken Davies,
Regional Publications, 2001
In the shadow of the eagle's wing (The history of aviation in the Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway region, 1825-1914) : Peter Connon, St Patrick's Press, 1982
An aeronautical history of the Cumbria, Dumfries & Galloway region. Part 2, 1915 to 1930 : Peter Connon, St Patrick's Press, 1984
Carlisle Airport : A history of Crosby on Eden airfield, 1914-91 : Paul Wiggins, Solway Aviation Society, 1991
Wings on Windermere : The history of the Lake District's forgotten flying boat factory : Allan King, Mushroom Model Publications, 2008
PLACES TO VISIT
RAF Millom Aviation and Military Museum ( www.rafmillom.co.uk
Solway Aviation Museum ( www.visitcumbria.com/car/solavmus.htm )