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British Industrial History

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Aeroplane Club

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1908 The club was founded by Captain W. G. Windham[1]. A list of 500 founder members was assembled before the inaugural meeting of the club to be held in Claridge's Hotel[2]. At the meeting Major Baden-Powell pointed out there were already 2 bodies in existence that served similar functions[3]

1909 Proposals were made to amalgamate with the Aero Club and, after those fell through, with the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain[4] but these also were unsuccessful.

Weekly meetings were held at the experimental grounds at Wembley Park[5]

1909 The club was incorporated in the Motor Union of the United Kingdom, which formed a new aviation section[6]

--- Formation of The Aeroplane Club [7]

On Friday, at Claridge's Hotel, Lieut.-Col. Mark Mayhew presided at a largely attended meeting to inaugurate the new club devoted to the "heavier than air type of machine".

At the outset the chairman said that but little had been hitherto done in this country to advance the science, for the object of forwarding which they had that day met together. As in the motor industry, France had already taken the lead and there were many persons who were of the same opinion as himself, that this country should not be permitted to lag behind in obtaining knowledge of what was destined to be not only a sport but possibly a great industry.

Col. Mayhew impressed upon his hearers the fact that the promoters of this organisation had no wish or desire to interfere in the slightest with existing institutions of a motoring or aeronautical character, but the aeroplane in its conception and working out was of so vastly different a character to anything else that no encroachment could happen.

Captain Windham explained at considerable length how the idea of the founding of the club originated. When he visited Paris during September last, he expected to find perhaps one or two aeroplanes being constructed, but he had to confess that he was literally astonished, not only at the large number of persons who were keenly interested in the science of aviation, but also at the number of persons with more than theoretical knowledge.

Two large firms had quite a number of machines in course of construction to fulfil definite orders, and so far as he could see it would not be long before other manufacturers would enter the same field.

On his return to London he made up his mind that the time was ripe for the formation of a club, which should have the sole object of encouraging the "heavier than air" machine and the first few gentlemen he approached on the matter became enthusiastic.

Preliminary circulars and the kind notice of the technical Press had already secured applications for membership from 730 persons, and the success of the club was assured. Over 60 of the members had invented machines, and although possibly few had got beyond the model stage, others were anxious to go forward with full designs and complete. But the difficulty they had to face was the want of a proper testing ground, and this ought to be one of the main objects of the club, in finding a suitable place and giving inventors every possible encouragement.

Major Baden-Powell, who also addressed the meeting, explained that he had the fullest sympathy with the objects of the promoters, but at the moment was in a difficult position as he felt that the good work done in the past by the Aeronautical Society had been somewhat overlooked. Other speakers also gave their views, and after the formal resolution to form the club had been carried, discussion took place as to the adoption of a name, and eventually that of the Aeroplane Club was settled.

See Also


Sources of Information

  1. The Times, Oct 10, 1908
  2. The Times, Oct 22, 1908
  3. The Times Nov 07, 1908
  4. The Times Jun 11, 1909
  5. The Times, Aug 13, 1909
  6. The Times Dec 10, 1909
  7. Motor Magazine of 10th November 1908