impairad
Revised 31 May 2010 (Flying Boat Service to USA link at bottom)

 

The Beginnings of British Commercial Aviation

 

It is over 90 years since the first airplane landed on the shore at Southport, England. In August 1910 Claude Grahame-Waite arrived very unexpectedly at Southport, landing his Farman Biplane on the beach near the pier, immediately drawing a huge crowd.

 

In 1911 a Hanger was built at the north end of town. A second airport was located at Blowick on the back end of town. Aviation had arrived in Southport. In 1919 commercial aviation arrived when the Avro Aviation Company began operating pleasure flights in its AVRO 504K 3 seater, as well as scheduled flights to Blackpool, Manchester, Waterloo Sand and Fleetwood from a sand strip at the Birkdale Palace Hotel. This was the 1st regularly scheduled passenger service in the UK, making a total of 94 flights.

 

British Marine Air Navigation Co.Ltd.
" I will design boats that fly rather than aero planes that float so said Noel Pemberto-Billing, eccentric inventor and founder of Pemberton-Billings Ltd. better known by its Telegraphic address "Supermarine" and some of the early designs were just that, wooden boats with removable wings. In 1919 "Supermarine" made several attempts to introduce a flying boat service along the South Coast and even a Le Havre flight, each was discontinued after a short time. No further commercial attempts were made until British Marine Air Navigation Co.Ltd
. was formed in a joint venture with Southern Railway, owners of Southampton Docks. The Woolston base of BMANC was to become UKs first commercial seadrome with Customs and Immigration and the worlds first scheduled passenger flying boat service was to begin on 14th August 1923 and there-after every Friday to Cherbourg, Le Havre and the Channel Isles. The aircraft to be used was the Supermarine Sea Eagle, designed by R.J.Mitchell his first commercial amphibian. This designer was to become famous for his Schneider Trophy aircraft and the world famous Spitfire. On 31st March 1924 BMANC was to amalgamate with three other British Companies to form Imperial Airways, under whose auspices this service ran until discontinued in 1929.

 

This will be one of our first flights. The day dawns bright and clear, wind from the SW and the promise of a fine summers day. Your aircraft Supermarine Sea Eagle G-EBFK sits resplendent in the morning sunshine at the top of the slip, Pre-flights have been carried out. Passengers are ready to board. Feeling rather dapper in your new Imperial Airways uniform, you stride forward to greet your passengers as they move towards the boarding ladder to the front hatch, seeing them safely aboard and hatch closed, complete your walk around check and climb into the cockpit, settling down, helmet and goggles adjusted, crack the throttle, switches on and give the mechanic the nod to start the engine, The Rolls Royce IX starts with
a throaty crackle and settles to a quiet rumble, final check and give the signal for chocks away, ease throttle forward and roll gently down the slip into the River Itchen,the wind gives you the opportunity for a straight takeoff run down the river, check river traffic, especially the two chain ferries near the slip are at opposite banks, open up the throttle and into
the takeoff run, 65kts airborne, keep wings level, build up speed, ease into climb to 1000ft trim out for level flight and reduce throttle to cruise at 80 to 85 kts. slight adjustment of heading takes you to your first check point, Needles lighthouse at the west end of the Isle of Wight, a handy reference, especially on the return, in murky conditions the flash of the light is seen well before the cliffs hove into sight and is one of your only navaids. The Southwesterly is giving a headwind, will cut your ground speed, checking the wind lanes on the sea surface, allow for a few degrees port drift, settle for the next 50 minutes, fly the plane, check for drift, check Ts & Ps and soon Alderney slides over the horizon just where you expected, you calculate your groundspeed, okay a touch more than expected, but we can land on ETA. Soon we turn port to fly between the West Coast of Guernsey and Herm Island, starting a gentle descent to turn finals into wind to land at Havalet Bay, St Peter Port, and taxi to the floating terminal to offload the passengers, and get ready for the return flight via Cherbourg. Congratulations you have just started your career in one of the worlds finest airlines
. Chris Fry

 

1919 was a busy year for commercial airlines.

AT&T made flights from: Hounslow Heath to Le Bourget in DH-9

Hounslow Heath to Le Bourget in DH-16

Hounslow Heath to Folkstone in a DH44

H.P.T initially made flights from Hounslow Heath but soon moved to their manufacturing facility at Cricklewood

Flights were made to:

Bournemouth in HP 0/400 aircraft

Paris in HP 0/400 aircraft

Brussels in HP 0/400 aircraft

Instone Aviation flew from London to:

Paris in a Vickers Vimy Commercial aircraft

Brussels in a Vickers Vimy Commercial aircraft.

 

A Government Committee was appointed in 1923 to review the policy of subsidizing airlines. Their report submitted that the principal aircraft companies should be merged into one organization, with the stated mission of developing British Commercial Air Transport on an economic basis, and creating a company, which would be strong enough to develop Britains external air services. As a result Imperial Airways Limited was formed on 31st March 1924 and on 1st April 1924 it took over the aircraft and services of:

Handley Page Transport Limited. Fleet: Three Handley Page W8Bs Princess Mary, Prince Henry, and Prince George.

The Instone Air Line Limited. Fleet: Vickers Vimy Commercial City of London, and four de Havilland DH 34s.

The Daimler Airway, having taken over AT&T routes. Fleet: Three de Havilland DH 34s

British Marine Air Navigation Company Limited. Fleet: Two Supermarine Sea Eagle amphibian flying boats.

 

During the period prior to the merger, each of the above airlines were operating routes that originated usually from their own flight strips in locations around London the following are the routes so flown:

AT&T Hendon Manchester (Alexandra Park Aerodrome now Council Football fields) flying DH 34s

Hendon Ostend, Amsterdam, Hamburg, Berlin flying DH 34s

Hendon Ostend, Amsterdam, Hanover, Berlin flying DH 34s

 

Instone Airways London Brussels, Cologne flying a Vickers Vimy Commercial

 

Handley Page Transport Cricklewood Paris flying HP W8bs

Cricklewood Paris, Basle and Zurich flying HP W8bs

 

British Marine Southampton Marine Guernsey, Le Havre flying Super Marine Sea Eagle

 

Imperial Airways did not get very much with the merger, they inherited 1,760-miles of cross-Channel routes, and a collection of mostly obsolete aircraft of which five were unserviceable. The land operation would be consolidated and based at Croydon Airport, which had opened on 25th March 1920.

 

Imperial Airways had a huge task ahead of them:

& Reopen British European air routes

& Develop communications between Britain and the Empire.

& Both routings required aircraft designed to operate them.

& The Empire routes would require major planning, and flying conditions with extreme weather changes, which until then had not been experienced on a regular basis, required planning not experienced by the airway before.

 

Crew problems delayed the commencement of services until 26th April 1924, when daily London-Paris service opened. The task of expanding the routes between England and the Continent, Southampton-Guernsey proceeded with service beginning on 1st May, London-Brussels, Ostend and Cologne on 3rd May, and a summer service from London to Basle and Zurich via Paris.

 

In 1921, the RAF began a weekly airmail service between Cairo and Baghdad. This is usually regarded as the first step in the airmail service between the UK and New Zealand. Via Cairo, Baghdad, Karachi, Singapore and Sydney.

 

As the route between Cairo and Baghdad was largely over a featureless desert a 400-mile track was laid out as a navigational aid.

 

The RAF Service was taken over by Imperial Airways in 1927 and the route was extended to Basrah on the Persian Gulf. It then became an important stage in the UK to Karachi service of 1929.

 

London Karachi 1929

 

Weekly service, London to Karachi started 30 March 1929, the journey taking seven days. The first flight from London was to Basle by an AW Argosy aircraft via Paris and then on overnight train to Genoa. The flight from Genoa to Alexandria was from 31 March to April 3 by a Short Calcutta Flying Boat.

 

The route was:

March 31 Genoa Rome Naples

April 1 Naples Corfu Athens

April 2 Athens Suda Bay (Crete) Tobruk

April 3 Tobruk Alexandria

 

The route from Alexandria to Karachi followed the existing route to Baghdad and flown by a DH 66 Hercules.

April 3 Alexandria Gaza

April 4 Gaza Baghdad

April 5 Baghdad Bundar Abbas

April 6 Bundar Abbas Karachi

 

The return flight left Karachi on April 7 arriving in London on April 14. The route from London changed route several times the first year, during the summer of 1929 the Athens Alexandria route was changed via Mirabella (Crete) and Mersa Matruh (Egypt) eliminating Tobruk.

 

The initial service was with the existing assortment of airlines. Several aircraft were placed on order specifically for certain routes and the old aircraft replaced. The routes soon were being flown as follows. On 16th June 1930, service linking London, Birmingham, Manchester and Liverpool was run three times a week. The intent of this service was to connect with European services at Croydon. Lack of support closed the route on 20th September.

 

You can get your aircraft from www.avsim.com Search for the filenames below:

 

The Avro A-10 file name is av_10_v2.zip

The Handley Page HP-42 file name is hp42ew1.zip

We will add the file name when the de Havilland DH 89 is ready.

 

 

Click here for FS 2002 aircraft modifications

 

For Croydon and the other add-on scenery, click here to visit the Scenery Page. (last update December 6, 2004)

 

 

(Thanks to John McKeon for permission to use his Vintage London Airfields Scenery including Croydon)

 

 

EUROPEAN ROUTES AS OF 1933

 

LONDON - MANCHESTER

Read Down Read up

Daily Remarks Daily

ICAO Airport

Arr. Dep

Aircraft Avro A10

Arr. Dep.

EGCR Croydon

08.00

 

12.30

EGCB Manchester

09.50

Read up

10.50

 

LONDON-OSTEND-AMSTERDAM-HAMBURG-BERLIN

Read Down Read up

Tue,Thu,Sat. Remarks Mon,Wed,Fri.

ICAO Airport

Arr. Dep

Aircraft Avro A10

Arr. Dep.

EGCR Croydon

08.15

Minus 1hour time change

14.15

EBOS Ostend

10.40 11.00

Plus 1 hour time change

13.30 13.50

EHAM Amsterdam

12.05 12.25

 

12.00 12.20

EDDH Hamburg

14.30 14.50

 

09.30 09.50

EDDI Berlin

16.25

Read up

08.00

 

LONDON-OSTEND-AMSTERDAM-HANNOVER-BERLIN

Read Down Read up

Mon,Wed,Fri Remarks Tue,Thu,Sat.

ICAO Airport

Arr. Dep

Aircraft Avro A10

Arr. Dep.

EGCR Croydon

08.30

Minus 1hour time change

14.30

EBOS Ostend

10.55 11.15

Plus 1 hour time change

13.45 14.05

EHAM Amsterdam

12.20 12.25

 

12.20 12.40

EDDV Hannover

14.30 14.50

 

09.50 10.10

EDDI Berlin

16.25

Read up

08.15

 

LONDON-BRUSSELS COLOGNE

Read Down Read up

Daily Remarks Daily

ICAO Airport

Arr. Dep

Aircraft De Havilland DH89

Arr. Dep.

EGCR Croydon

08.00

Minus 1hour time change

16.00

EBBR Brussels

11.00 11.30

Plus 1 hour time change

14.30 15.00

EDDK Cologne

12.30

Read up

13.30

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

LONDON LE TOUQUET, PARIS/LA PLAGE

Flights operate in Summer season only

Read Down Read up

Sat, Sun Remarks Sat, Sun

ICAO Airport

Arr. Dep

Aircraft Avro A10

Arr. Dep.

EGCR Croydon

09.30

Minus 1 hour time change

12.30

LFAT Le Touquet

11.30

Plus 1 hour time change.

Read up

12.30

 

LONDON-PARIS-BASLE/MULHOUSE-ZURICH

Flights operate in Summer season only

Read Down Read up

Daily Remarks Daily

ICAO Airport

Arr. Dep

Aircraft HP42

Arr. Dep.

EGCR Croydon

08.10

Minus 1 hour time change

14.30

LFPB Le Bourget

10.55 11.15

Plus 1 hour time change

13.45 14.05

LFSB Basle

12.20 12.25

 

12.20 12.40

LSZH Zurich

14.30 14.50

Read up

09.50 10.10

 

LONDON-PARIS-BRINDISI-ATHENS-ALEXANDRIA-CAIRO

Read Down

Daily Remarks

ICAO Airport

Arr. Dep

Aircraft HP42

EGCR Croydon

12.30

 

LFPB Le Bourget

15.15 21.30

Plus 1 hour time change. Transfer to Hotel then by Train to Brindisi. 2 nights, 1 day.

LIBR Brindisi

09.07 11.30

Aircraft S17 Seaplane.

LGAT Athens

16.30 08.00

Plus 1 hour time change. Overnight stop.

LGIR Crete

11.45

Refuel at re-fuelling barge.

HEAX Alexandria

15.45

Connects with Singapore Flight and train to Cairo which departs at 18.00

HEEM Cairo

22.45

Overnight by train. Connects with Cape Town and Basrah Flight.

 

CAIRO-GAZA- BAGHDAD-BASRAH

Tue, Sat Remarks

ICAO Airport

Arr. Dep

Aircraft HP42

HEEM Cairo

06.45

 

LVGZ Gaza

08.45 09.15

OR1I H2

12.30 13.00

Fuel stop

ORBS Baghdad

16.40 06.00

Overnight stop at Hotel. Depart Wed, Sun

ORMM Basrah

09.40

Plus 1 hour time change. Termination of flight.

Timetable by Norm Holman

Imperial Airways operational statistics for the period of April 1924, to the end of May, 1928, show it has flown 3,392,126 miles on its Continental and mid-east routes, and has carried 73,059 passengers and 2.715 tons of mail and merchandise. Presently Imperial Airways are operating daily about 1,000 miles of routes between London and the Continent and a Middle East route of 1,100 miles between Cairo and Basra via Baghdad. The latter is the first air-link of Empire to be operated on commercial lines.

 

 

Chapter Two South Africa Route

Chapter Three West Africa Route

Chapter Four Eastern Route

Chapter Five S23 Empire Airmail Service to S. Africa

European 1933 Schedule for FSX

Flying Boat Service to the USA

 

 

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