Cromarty Archive

Round Britain Waterplane Flight

Round Britain Waterplane Flight

Date Added: 01 January 2003 Contributor: Unknown Year: 1919 Picture No: 118

This is a fascinating picture of a seaplane just off Cromarty. Does anyone now when this event took place?

Albums: Events, The Sea

Groups: Cromarty - Seaplane Base


This picture would be of a flight sponsored by the London Daily Mail for a competition for around Britain Flight 1919. Pilots in this plane would be the great Australian Aviator Harry Hawker and possibly Commander Mackenzie Grieve. More information about the pilots, and their exploits can be seen on this external site. Comment left on 06 August 2003 by John Macdonald
The first seaplane base was first started up in Cromarty in 1913. Comment left on 06 August 2003 by Sue Florence
This was the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain �5000 'water plane' race, which was given a waiver by the War Office at the time, to allow the Royal Aero Club supervise the event.So soon after WW1, civil flying over certain parts of the UK coastline was
sensitive, but just before the race, regulations affecting the restricted areas were dropped, allowing the event proceed.
Comment left on 27 October 2003 by Clem Watson
Looking at the link supplied by John, this flight actually took place in 1913. Hawker arrived in Cromarty around 1pm on Tuesday, 26th August.

"Aberdeen was reached about 11 a.m. His Scottish admirers, consisting of quite 40, 000 people at Aberdeen alone, gave him a most hearty welcome, and sped him on his way about noon. Some two hours later Cromarty was reached."

He then took off for Oban, via the Caledonian Canal. (Not quite 'Round Britain' then!)

"Now commenced the most difficult part of the course. The Caledonian Canal runs among lofty mountains, and the numerous air-eddies and swift air-streams rushing through the mountain passes tossed the frail craft to and fro, and at times threatened to wreck it altogether. On some occasions the aeroplane was tossed up over 1000 feet at one blow; at other times it was driven sideways almost on to the hills. From Cromarty to Oban the journey was only about 96 miles, but it took nearly three hours to fly between these places. This slow progress seriously jeopardized the pilot's chances of completing the course in the allotted time, for it was his intention to make the coast of Ireland by nightfall. But as it was late when Oban was reached he decided to spend the night there."

The flight ended in a crash in Lough Shinny, around 15 miles north of Dublin. Hawker escaped unscathed, but his mechanic was injured and the plane was a right-off.
Comment left on 16 April 2005 at 13:41 by Garve Scott-Lodge
Most likely this photo was taken in 1913! Hawker is flying the Sopwith for the Circuit of Britain (or Round Britain Race) which was to be completed in 72 hours to win the Daily Mail's $25, 000 prize. Hawker only completed 2/3rds of the distance, crashing with his engineer, Harry Kaupe, who was slightly injured. Harold Penrose gives a few more details in his book, British Aviation, the pioneer years. Actually there was more than one Round Britain race - 1911, aeroplanes; 1913, hydro-aeroplanes. Penrose also confirms Clem Watson's statements and shows a close-up photo by Peter Lewis of the craft at Yarmouth. Comment left on 30 March 2007 at 03:46 by Bob Davis, aviation historian
This August marks the 100th Anniversary of the attempt made by the great Australian pilot Harry Hawker and his mechanic Harry Kauper to complete the 1913 Circuit of Britain Race. A commemorative flight is being undertaken by another Australian pilot, Jeff Boyling, in G-PBYA, the Duxford based Catalina. More details can be found at Comment left on 27 March 2013 at 15:43 by Jeff Boyling
My great grandfather Frank Ryan a local fisherman saved Hawker and Kauper from drowning that day. I have an engraved multitooled penknife given to Frank for his heroic efforts from Sir Roger Palmer estate landowner of Loughshinny. Comment left on 27 May 2019 at 06:32 by Gerry Coleman
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