100th Anniversary of Leysdown Airfield


2009 sees some very high profile centenaries in avaition. The Royal Navy will be celebrating 100 Years of Naval Aviation at various events throughout the year and it's even the centenary of the world's first "airshow." However, some of the first centenaries celebrated this year were those of the very first "airfields" or "aerodromes." The Airfields of Britain Conservation Trust (ABCT) held four memorial unveilings in late February to commemorate these pionnering places. One of these airfields was one used by Shorts Brothers to produce aircraft on the Isle of Sheppey at Leysdown-on-Sea. Paul Johnson/Flightline UK reports. All photography copyright of the Author.

The airfield at Leysdown has long gone and has been replacedby grazing. However, not all traces of the airifeld have dissappeared. Muswell Manor Holiday Park now stands on the site of the old airfield. The Manor building itself is 16th Century and was the first headquarters of the Royal Aero Club. Shorts Brothers set up a factory on the adjacent land and the first flight took place here in 1909. The pilot on that occasion of JTC Brabazon and he flew a licence produced version of the Wright Brothers aircraft. In May 1909, JTC Brabazon was issued "Pilot's Certificate No.1" at Leysdown and in that same month, the Wright Brothers visited the airfield!

Later in 2009, Leysdown and Sheppey will see further celebrations with flypasts and ground shows but this small low key event saw a very early flying display by Carolyn Grace in Spitfire IXT ML407 over Leysdown airfield. It was the third event for ABCT and the second display by Carolyn for one of these events.

Centenary Flying: Click to Enlarge








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