An International Atmosphere at the Eastbourne Club's
Garden Party: Saturday August 12th 1939
(Flight August 17th 1939)
Although the Eastbourne Club's Garden
Party at Wilmington aerodrome last Saturday was not graced this year
by those high officials in aviation circles who
add tone to such meetings with their speeches, there is no doubt
that it was one of the most enjoyable functions of its kind. What is
more, it took on quite an international flavour, for of the many
visiting aircraft several had come item Germany, France, Belgium,
and even as far away as Poland.
Throughout the sunny afternoon a somewhat massive but excellently
supported programme was attacked and frequently departed from in a
delightful impromptu manner.But as was the case last year, the only
criticism that could be offered was on the score of its length. At
the same time, it should be stressed that the Club had seen fit to
introduce one or two instructive items not strictly connected with
flying, but which did provide a refreshing break to those who had
seen one or more demonstrations beforehand.
Between mid-day and 2.15 p.m. aircraft began to arrive, for within
this period an arrival competition was being held. Visiting pilots
were directed where to park their machines by the ever-handy A.A.
scouts, and then greeted by officials who drove them to the
clubhouse, Where they were welcomed by the Eastbourne Club's
chairman, Mr. C. A. Wilson. By this time the enclosure in front of
the clubhouse had begun to fill, while spectators from Eastbourne
and the surrounding districts arrived by the hundred.
The first part of the programme was devoted to demonstrations headed
by a Tipsy piloted by Mr. A. Munro in the place of Sqn. Ldr. E.
Mole, who is still unfortunately hors de combat after his accident
in the Folkestone Trophy Race the previous weekend. Munro showed how
the Tipsy could climb. In fact, one could be pardoned for suggesting
that it climbed almost too well, for although the Tipsy was made to
loop and spin with ease, it required good eyesight to see these
manoeuvres from ground level.
A rather more dashing show was put across by F/O Pickard in the low
wing BiBi-Be 550. After a series of smoothly executed steep turns
and dives the BiBi was brought in rather too low over the aerodrome
boundary hedge for the mental comfort of the onlookers. Even so, F/O
Pickard was able to pull off a very neat three-pointer at the
critical moment. Almost before he had landed Mr. Hollis Williams was
off in the General Aircraft Cygnet, which incidentally was the first
production model of its type. After last Saturday there can be no
doubt that Mr. Williams has got this tricycle business thoroughly
weighed up. His high-speed approaches were enough to make any
sensitive pilot groan in anguish as the Cygnet merrily romped into
the ground at a steady 75 m.p.h., but seemingly miraculously was
able to pull up within 70 or so yards without any difficulty. At
other times he showed how easy this machine would be to put down in
a small field. Gaining a little altitude the Cygnet was made to loop
and halt roll out of the top and even to dive on its back just to
show that a machine which is easy to fly can also be acrobatically
minded. Next came Mr. George Miles. F. G.'s brother, who proceeded
to put the latest Miles Monarch through its paces with in series of
perfectly judged turns and loops, finishing up with an almost
lift-like approach after the best (Going down, Madam) Miles
traditions. By this time one demonstration was beginning to get
rather like any of its predecessors.
However, Mr. G. N. Wickner took up one of the new Wickos and showed,
at a somewhat nerve-shattering low altitude, what a handy acrobatic
machine a two-seater cabin aircraft can be.
As soon as the Wicko landed the Hon. A.W.H.Dalrymple arrived in the
little Train-engined Chilton. Almost immediately he took off again
to put up an excellent show in this comparatively speedy aircraft.
In fact, after last Saturday anyone could be pardoned if they left
Wilmington convinced that there was nothing in the way of flying
which the Chilton could not do.
The demonstrations proper were brought to a close with a neat
performance by Mr. B. T. Hardy in a Taylorcraft. Approaching
parallel to and quite near the lines of spectators, he proceeded to
clear the boundary by a matter of inches, and landed - he almost
dropped it- with so little forward speed that the machine pulled up
within less than a dozen yards.
Under the intriguing heading cf "Back your fancy," the next part of
the programme proved to be a handicap race between a Gipsy 1 Moth
flown by F/0. O. T. Hazel, a Whitney Straight piloted by Mr. L.
Bellairs, and a Messerschmitt Taifun piloted by Herr E. A. Scheidt.
Unfortunately the handicapping went a trifle astray, for the Taifun
overhauled the little Gipsy, as if the latter was part of the
balloon barrage, when it still had another lap to go. The Whitney
Straight apparently went astray, for it disappeared behind some
hills for quite a considerable time. While the race was on George
Solak was cruising around in his Polish R.W.13 on his return from
Shoreham, where he had been sent to clear Customs.
After a somewhat humorous interlude in which two Gipsy Moths were
used to bomb a car driven up and down the aerodrome, Frilulein Vera
von Bissing took off in her B.F.W. M35 to give one of those highly
polished and perfectly executed acrobatic exhibitions that have made
her name famous throughout Europe. Her programme ranged from simple
loops to half bunts in both upward and downward directions. Her slow
rolls were gems of precision, while the old Siemens-engined M.35
seemed to be just as at home doing steep turns on its back as when
flying iii a more orthodox attitude.
After this exhilarating performance a platoon of the Middlesex
regiment gave a demonstration of how the Bren gun is used on
aircraft daring to come within their range. For this purpose two
Moths snooped around the countryside, making, at intervals, dashes
across the field of fire.
While the various sections were deployed across the aerodrome an
innocent Hornet arrived, to the horror of all concerned and Rex
Stocken in particular (the latter was nobly doing the running
commentary) and his comments sotto voce were heard very clearly over
the loud-speakers. They were at least explicit. Next came two brief
demonstrations, one by Crossley Warren in the new Parnall Trainer
and the other by George Solak in the R.W.D.13.The former's show was
very polished and included a series of power dives into the centre
of the aerodrome from behind the spectators (very frightening). The
latter, however, wisely contented himself with a few genteel
fly-pasts, afterwards most politely doffing his hat to the
applauding crowd. Before the grand parade of all the visiting
aircraft, which brought the afternoon programme to a close, Miss Ray
Clark jumped from a Moth flying at 2,000ft. Her parachute opened
immediately and she landed with perfect accuracy in the middle of
the aerodrome. Unfortunately she lost her grip of the shroud lines
and was unable to spill the air, with the result that both she and a
nearby official were dragged some distance in the fresh breeze
before help arrived. In a few seconds the canopy was got under
control and stowed into a waiting car.
A view from the control tower of a small section of the large
crowd at Wilmington on Saturday. In the background can be seen a BFW
M35, Tipsy, Wicko and the new Parnall Trainer.
Mr G.N Wickner, in his Wicko zooms up over some of
the visiting aircraft during the course of a demonstration
Fraulein Vera von Bissing makes her point (or
appears to do so) when chatting with two German companions in the
shade of her B.F.W. M-35
The prize-winners for
the arrival, distance and concours d'elegance were then announced.
George Solak had flown that day from Lwow in Poland in his R.W.D.-13,
and so he rather naturally went home with the prize for having come
the greatest distance. R. P. Mason won the award for the open class
in the concours d'elegance with his Moth Minor, while Herr E.
Gerbrecht won the closed class with his superbly finished Arado 79 a
roomy two-seater side-by-side low-wing monoplane with an inwardly
retractable undercarriage. Herr Gerbrecht also won the arrival
competition by a short head from F/O. Pickard in the BiBi-Be 550.
Mr. Anson, of Hull, won the distance competition for English
Eastbourne's Garden Party in theory ended with the presentation of
awards by His Worship the Mayor of Eastbourne, but in actual fact it
continued well on into the evening with the erection of a
searchlight by a detachment of the Queen's Royal Regiment.
Additional high-spots were a firework display and a realistic
bombing raid in which the searchlight boys got busy and all the
A.R.P. Volunteers from the surrounding districts co-operated.
Altogether a very convincing show.