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Aerial Experimenters Come to Filey 1910

by RB

It looks as if the well-tried stretch of hard sand on Filey Beach will become a regular practising ground for flyers. Mr J.W.F. Tranmer, having obtained formal permission

from the Filey Urban District Council for its use, is pushing ahead with his plans. He writes us upon this subject as follows :–

“ The beach at Filey extends four miles, and when the tide is out there is nearly a quarter of a mile in width. The  sands are generally smooth and hard. On my J.A.P. motorcycle I have done 46 m.p.h. per Cowey speedometer, and with my 20-h.p. Vulcan car have done 35 m.p.h. with six men up.

“This will show you what Filey sands are like. A splendid site is being prepared for sheds, a proper slipway from the sands, 12 yds wide, is being made, and an approach road from the land side half a mile long for motor cars is being constructed. I intend to put up two large sheds at present, and am prepared to let one of them for short periods to other experimenters like myself.”

Flight June 18th 1910

From research by Filey Bay Initiative – Aviation History

Bleriot Aeroplane at Filey (Courtesy Fisher Crimlisk Archives)

England’s First Aeroplanes tested in Filey

by RB

Mercury 1 on Slipway at Filey ( Crimlisk Fisher Archives)

Robert Blackburn built aeroplanes in Leeds and needed somewhere to develop his new aeroplanes. His First Monoplane (1909) was tested at Marske and Saltburn but was not successful.

He took over the Filey Flying School early in 1911. The Second Monoplane first flew on the 8th of March 1911 at Filey. It crashed on this first flight, was rebuilt and continued in service until 1912. The Mercury Monoplanes were developed while he was at Filey.

Only two Mercury IIs were built, Racing No. 22 and Racing No. 27 (later to be 33). The second one set a record for crossing the Bristol Channel record. Both flew in July 1911 for the first time but No. 22 was wrecked on the 22nd July 1911 at Brooklands. The development of the Mercury continued with the production of the Mercury III. The first one flew on the 9th November 1911. It was fitted with the most powerful engine of the entire Mercury range (60 hp Renault) and was the only one with tapered wings.

Robert Blackburn continued to make aeroplanes and Blackburn Aircraft Ltd. eventually moved to Brough. The company is now part of BAE Systems.

Robert Blackburn continued to run the company until 1953, and died in 1955.

Filey Bay Initiative

Daring Feats of ‘loop the loop’ Flying Benny

by RB

Mercury 1 Filey Beach

Mercury 1 Filey Beach (Fisher Crimlisk Archives)

Robert Blackburn took on Bentfield (Benny) Charles Hucks as instructor and chief test pilot at his Filey Aircraft testing site in March 1911. Benny Hucks was a pioneering aviator with several accomplishments to his name:- On the 17th of May 1911, he flew the Mercury I to Scarborough and back in 19 minutes, averaging 50 mph and reaching a height of 1,200 feet (a Northern England record).

Benny achieved the only Aero Club Aviators Certificate awarded in Filey (No. 91) on the 18th of May 1911 even though the engine seized, the propeller flew off and he crashed in front of the examiners! On the 10th of July, he flew 40 miles by night via Bridlington and Scarborough, landing on the beach back at Filey by the light of bonfires.

On the 1st of September he became the first person to do a double crossing of the Bristol Channel (Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff and back). This was in a Mercury II. Benny Hucks is also credited with being the first in England to fly upside down and loop the loop. Local legend has him looping the loop over Filey railway station.

Hubert Oxley took over the job of flying instructor from Benny Hucks in September 1911. Benny Hucks went on to do flying shows and joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1914 where he was awarded the 1914 Star. He was invalided from the front with pleurisy, became a test pilot for the Aircraft Manufacturing Company and died from pneumonia on the 7th of November 1918 after catching Spanish Flu. He was 34.

Filey Bay Initiative

Filey Aircrash Tragedy – Two Killed

by RB

mercury 3 with Renault Engine (Fisher Crimlisk Archives)

On December the 6th 1911, Hubert Oxley, trainer at Filey Flying School,  took the Mercury III up with Mr Robert Weiss as passenger. Mr Oxley was in the habit of swooping down the cliff under full power and pulling up sharply at the bottom. This time, the wings broke up and the aeroplane crashed into the beach. The aeroplane was estimated to be doing 150 mph at the time of the crash (the top speed was only 75 mph). Both pilot and passenger died.

Five more Mercury IIIs were built, but all with 50 hp engines. A Jack Brereton replaced Hubert Oxley as instructor and the Flying School moved to Hendon in late 1912.

Filey Bay Intiative – History of Aviation