ACA Woking News by Paul Holden, PRO

17 October 2002

AIRCREW SEE MORE EARLY AVIATION FILMS

John Fairey
John Fairey

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
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
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
Lion-powered Fairey IIIF
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
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
Fairey Flycatcher replica
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 entertainment!

Back to top of page