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Thursday, 30 October 2014

Event will commemorate first successful seaplane

THE centenary of the maiden flight of the first successful seaplane in Britain will be celebrated by the shores of Windermere this month.

Waterbird made the historic flight on the same stretch of water in 1911, realising the dream of Edward Wakefield, who patented the first effective British aircraft float.

Wakefield went on to develop a series of aircraft for the government.

He overcame strong opposition from Beatrix Potter and Canon Hardwicke Rawnsley, founder of the National Trust, who campaigned against the Lakeland trials of the flying machines.

Aviation enthusiasts have been invited to the Storrs Hall Hotel for the centenary, which will be marked with an air display over Windermere by one of Waterbird’s many descendants, a 1949 Hawker Sea Fury, on November 25 at 2.15pm.

The event will help to raise funds towards the £160,000 cost of completing a working replica of Waterbird.

Gerry Cooper, of Nottinghamshire-based Cooper Aerial Surveys Engineering Ltd, has started building the replica using the original plan of aircraft engineer Sir Alliott Verdon-Roe, founder of Manchester aviation firm Avro.

It is hoped the replica, built from similar materials to the spruce wood and wires that held the original Waterbird together, will be ready to fly on Windermere next year.

Funds are also being raised towards the creation of an Edward Wakefield Memorial Edwardian Seaplane Centre at Windermere, which would house the replica Waterbird and be the only operational seaplane centre in the world flying pre-1914 aircraft.

Among the aviation enthusiasts who will be gathering at the lakeside for the centenary event will be several descendants of Edward Wakefield, including his great grandson John Gordon; his great nephew Sir Humphry Wakefield; his great niece The Hon Ruth Adorian; and his great, great nephew Richard Wakefield Raynsford.

Also attending the event will be Elisabeth Luard (nee Longmore), the granddaughter of Waterbird’s naval test pilot Arthur Longmore; the Reverend Roger Scoones, a descendant of Waterbird’s pilot Herbert Stanley Adams; and Eric Verdon-Roe, grandson of Sir Alliott Verdon-Roe.

Sir Humphry said: “This was the golden age for British aviation and we are hoping to capture the magic of those early pioneers.

“Recreating the flight of Britain’s first seaplane will be a fitting tribute to the ingenuity of Edward Wakefield 100 years later.”

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