23 July 2001
EARLY HISTORY OF FAIROAKS
AND AIR RACES RECALLED
At their July Meeting, members of the Woking Branch of the Aircrew Association
enjoyed a riveting talk from Ron Paine, now an erect and sprightly
octogenarian, who first flew from an airstrip on a farm near Chobham (which
subsequently became Fairoaks Airport) and went on to win a record number of Air
Races in the years after World War 2.
talking in front of G-ADGP, the Miles Hawk Speed Six
racer in which he won the King's Cup Air Race six times, at a maximum
speed of 196 knots.
After the talk, members of the Woking Branch ACA were able to inspect Ron
Paine's original Hawk Speed Six, which is now owned by a retired Concorde pilot
and kept at Fairoaks Airport.
The farm was owned by Lt Col Louis Arbon Strange DSO MC DFC (one-time CFI of
the RAF Central Flying School at Upavon), who was then the Managing Director of
the Spartan Aircraft Company, who frequently flew from his farm to their
factory on the Isle of Wight, often taking Ron Paine with him. Ron Paine's
family lived next to Sir Sydney Camm, the designer of the Hurricane. After his
father's premature death, Sydney Camm took him under his wing, not only making
sure that he was apprenticed to Barnes Wallis as an aircraft engineer, but also
getting him pilot training.
Air Racing started in 1922, principally as a means of promoting new aircraft
and public awareness of flying as a serious means of transport. The King's Cup
Air Race all round Britain started in 1922, and did much to prove the
reliability of the aircraft developed between then and 1927, when Pylon
Racing started at Brookwood, following American practices. Up until 1932, all
the aircraft taking part were biplanes. 1934 saw the England to Australia Race,
whilst the annual King's Cup event, restricted to aircraft of all British
construction, brought the low wing monoplane into being. Miles Hawks
were prominent up until the 2-day racing at Hatfield in 1938, which was the
last event before the war interrupted racing until 1947.
The narrow single-seat cockpit looks very snug !
Miles Hawk insignia on the fuselage
As new airfields opened after the war, mostly with grass surfaces, airport
authorities, starting with
Birmingham Elmdon Airport, and followed by Newcastle, Leeds/Bradford and
Coventry, asked the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom to launch National
Air Races to promote flying. Ron Paine came second at Birmingham in 1947, and
third in the King's Cup in 1948 in a Miles Hawk Speed 6, and earned enough money
in generous sponsorship from petrol companies to buy the aeroplane! After this
he went on with it to come second out of 85 aeroplanes participating in the
Daily Express Air Race from Bournemouth to Dover, and to win the SBAC trophy
for the King's Cup Air Race 6 times, at a maximum speed of 196 Knots, allowing
him to keep the trophy in perpetuity!
This same vintage aircraft, built in 1935, has been bought in 1999 and fully
restored to mint condition by a retired Concord Pilot, Roger Mills, who fell in
love with it as a 5-year old, when Ron Paine was racing it. Roger keeps it at
Fairoaks and, after the meeting, invited ACA members into the hangar for a
Ron Paine (left), current owner Roger Mills (next left) and his maintenance
(Alec Dunbar of Woking ACA and Philip Flack) with their pride and joy.
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