Wilmington (Eastbourne) Aerial View

Snapshots In Time Index

Eastbourne's Afternoon
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.

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 flight.

Mr G.N Wickner, in his Wicko zooms up over some of the visiting aircraft during the  course of a demonstration flight.

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

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 competitors.

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.