17 October 2002
AIRCREW SEE MORE EARLY AVIATION FILMS
At last month’s meeting of the local Branch of the Aircrew Association, members
thoroughly enjoyed personal reminiscences about his father's aircraft by John
Fairey, son of Sir Richard Fairey, who as Mr C R Fairey founded the Fairey
Aviation Company in July 1915. The first works were at Hayes, Middlesex, and a
field was purchased at Harlington, south of the Great Western Railway, where
they were subcontracted to assemble twelve Short 827 seaplanes. To test
seaplanes, a slip way and sheds were built at Hamble Point, Southampton Water.
Fairey IIID floatplane
The story was woven around 16 mm film clips from his unique private collection
of archive films tracing Fairey aircraft through the twenties and thirties,
including the F II twin-engined, three-seat long range general purpose aircraft
powered by 190 hp Rolls Royce Falcon engines, and the long range Fairey IIID
with Napier Lion Engines, which in 1926 flew from Cairo to Cape Town and back.
Fairey Flycatcher from HMS Furious
The Flycatcher single seat fighter with an Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar engine was
adopted by the Fleet Air Arm and served on the Royal Navy’s Aircraft Carriers.
Film showed this remarkable aircraft taking off from a short deck beneath the
main flight deck.
Lion-powered Fairey IIIF in Egypt
The Fairey IIIF fighter and its Ferret derivative were shown both during test
flying and in squadron service, especially in Egypt. Other short films showed
the Pterodactyl, a modern-looking "all wing" type for the time; a small
aircraft where the wing and wheels were attached after the pilot sat in the
fuselage; and shots of the 1930 Hendon Air Show, including the R101 airship,
which showed just how spectacular the annual event must have been for the large
crowds seen attending.
Fairey Fox on floats
A number of Fairey aircraft were fitted with floats and seen operating from
Calshot. Take off distances were very much longer than when landing! A bonus
was an excellent sequence of the giant DoX seaplane making what almost amounted
to a state visit to England with a number of celebrity visitors. Another
classic film showed a flight test of the Bristol Brabazon, which was intended
to lead the world in civil aviation - but only three were built before jet
airliners took over.
Fairey Flycatcher replica flown by John Fairey
The final movie showed relatively-recent footage of John Fairey flying his
replica of a Fairey Flycatcher from his private landing strip. This aircraft
was made by craftsmen from the original plans.
What a magnificent evening’s
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