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British Industrial History

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William Sefton Brancker

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Air Vice-Marshal Sir William Sefton Brancker KCB AFC (22 March 1877 – 5 October 1930), commonly known as Sir Sefton Brancker, was an important personality in the history of British civil and military aviation. Early Aviator in the Royal Flying Corps

Sefton Brancker was born on 22 March 1877 at Woolwich in Kent. His parent were Colonel William Godefroy Brancker and Hester Adelaide, the daughter of Major-General Henry Charles Russel. The Branckers were a long-established Anglo-German family which had lived in England for several generations.

Sefton Brancker grew up as the elder of two brothers and their father died in 1885. From 1891 to 1894, the young Brancker attended Bedford School.

Brancker was trained for the British Army at Woolwich, joining the Royal Artillery. He served in the Second Boer War and later for a number of years in India, where he made his first flight in 1910.

During World War I, he held important administrative posts in the Royal Flying Corps and later the Royal Air Force. He became major general in 1918, and received the Knight Commander of the Order of the Bath the following year.

In 1919, with the introduction of RAF-specific ranks, he became an Air Vice-Marshal.

In 1922 he was made Director of Civil Aviation, and worked assiduously to stimulate UK interest in the subject with both local authorities and flying clubs. He encouraged Manchester and other cities to construct municipal airports and airfields. He participated in several long-distance survey flights.

Sir Sefton was chairman of the Royal Aero Club Racing Committee from 1921 to 1930 and his dynamic leadership led to the RAeC forming the Light Aero Club scheme in 1925, which helped provide the UK clubs with examples of such new and improved aircraft types as the de Havilland Moth and Avro Avian.

Togther with Lord Thomson, the Air Minister, Brancker was killed in the disastrous wreck of the R101 airship near Beauvais France early on 5 October 1930 during its maiden voyage to India.

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