International Aviation Meeting
Bournemouth, UK, July 11th - 16th, 1910

The first 1910 British international aviation meeting


Louis Blériot and his British manager M. Chereau in front of Léon Morane's single-seat machine. (1)
Joseph Christiaens, Morane and Edmond Audemars chatting in the hangar area. They all wear padded helmets, a novelty that was used for the first time in Bournemouth by several of the flyers. They immediately showed their worth, saving at least one life during the meeting. (1)
Christiaens was the first to fly when official flights started on the first day. (2)
Charles Rolls in the seat of his Wright. The light structure that held the new rear elevator is visible to the right. (3)
Rolls crossing the start/finish line. (1)
James Radley, rounding a pylon during a flight for the speed contest. (2)
Samuel Cody at the controls of his machine. (4)
Audemars in the cockpit of his tiny Demoiselle. (4)
Audemars in flight. The short-coupled monoplane with its high centre of gravity readily nosed over when landing on rough ground. (1)
People running to the accident site immediately after Rolls' crash. The rear elevator and the crumpled remains of the failed tail structure can be seen on top of the wreck. (5)
Friends and officials forming a ring to protect Rolls and the wreck from curious visitors and reporters. (6)
A sketch showing with solid lines the course flown during the landing contest by Grahame-White and by Rolls in his first attempt. The course flown by Rolls during his fatal attempt is shown with dotted lines. (7)
Claude Grahame-White with a lady passenger. He was very active giving passenger flights, a lucrative business in those days. (8)
Grahame-White flying, perhaps with the same lady passenger. (2)
Christiaens in the seat of his Farman. (4)
Morane's mechanics hauling the flag from his hangar during the threatened strike on the Thursday. (1)
Armstrong Drexel's Gnôme-engined Blériot. (1)
Alfred Rawlinson smiling and happy before his accident. Note his initials, that were carved in the footrest of his machine. (9)
Louis Wagner getting out of his Hanriot. (1)
Morane's new two-seater model XI-2 bis could take two passengers and was entered through a trap door in the bottom of the fuselage. (1)
Morane taking off with a passenger on board. (5)
The remains of Christiaens' Farman after his crash on the Friday. (1)
Morane being celebrated after his Needles-and-back flight. In front Mr. Perrin, Secretary of the Royal Aero Club, carrying Morane's life belt, and to the left of the people carrying Morane is Mr. Chereau with Morane's helmet under his arm. (7)
The engine of Drexel's Blériot is started before his sea flight. Note the flotation bag in the rear fuselage. (5)
George Barnes' Humber being prepared for a flight. (2)
Alan Boyle in his Avis monoplane. (7)
Audemars posing in front of his Demoiselle. (10)
Audemars getting some help to right his machine after one of his several somersaults in the high vegetation outside the narrow mown course. (11)
Armstrong Drexel. The young American operated an airfield and flying school together in Boldre together with his partner James McArdle. (3)
Robert Loraine's Farman after the landing at Alum Bay on the Isle of Wight. The machine was not damaged, but the the heavily retouched photo shows it with the outer wing panels folded and the flying surfaces covered with tarpaulins to protect against the rain. Loraine flew the machine back to Bournemouth on the Tuesday after the meeting. (1)
Launcelot Gibbs had a miserable week, suffering from propeller, engine and rigging problems, and hardly achieved anything. (10)
The wings of Barnes' Humber, looking somewhat worse for wear, loaded on a car after the end of the meeting. (4)

Bournemouth is a coastal resort town in Dorset (until 1974 in Hampshire), on the south coast of England. It was founded in 1810 by Lewis Tregonwell, who built the first house in what was then a deserted heathland occasionally visited by fishermen and smugglers. It quickly grew to become a well-known spa and became a town in 1870. The population had gone from zero to around 75,000 by 1910.

The centennial of the town's existence was celebrated by what was announced as "The grandest series of Fêtes ever organised in Great Britain" on July 6th - 16th. One of the main attractions was an international aviation meeting, but there was also a "flower battle", carnivals, concerts, a military tattoo, an athletic meeting, a motorboat regatta, masquerade balls and many other events.

The meeting was sanctioned by the Royal Aero Club, and the organisation committee was headed by Councillor F. J. Bell, the chairman of the Fetes Committee, and W. Bowman, the organising manager. Four different potential sites were investigated during the winter, and it was finally decided on a field between Southbourne and Hengistbury Head, some six kilometres east of central Bournemouth. The committee paid the land-owners £ 2,200 for the use of the grounds. A four-pylon course with two almost hairpin turns at the ends was laid out. Construction of the airfield with its four covered grandstands and fifteen hangars went smoothly and communication via two different tram lines was assured. The total cost of arranging the meeting was given as £ 22,000.

In March, Lord Montagu of Beaulieu appealed for subscriptions to a national prize fund to provide prizes for British aviators at the meeting. The results were disappointing and in the end only £ 100 could be given for the best flight in an all-British machine.

Nineteen competitors entered, all of them licensed pilots, according the "The Aero" in order to avoid "the ludicrous scenes which occurred at Blackpool and Doncaster, when men who never had flown, and never will fly, came out and played on the grass till their badly-built machines broke themselves". 15 of the pilots were British or Britain-based, headed by Charles Rolls, Bertram Dickson, Samuel Cody and Claude Grahame-White. Four were experienced foreign pilots: Frenchmen Léon Morane and Louis Wagner, Belgian Joseph Christiaens and Swiss Edmond Audemars.

The meeting would include the usual contests, with the highest prize money, £ 1,000, going to the winners of the speed and altitude contests. £ 800 would be paid to the winner of an over-water race from the airfield to the Needles lighthouse at the western end of Isle of Wight and back. The total prize fund was £ 8,000. There would be no appearance money paid, so the pilots would have to compete for their share of the prize money.

One slightly controversial aspect of the meeting was that the official flying hours of the meeting were from 11:00 to sunset, but no competitor could start in any event after 19:00. This would to large extent deprive the flyers of the best flying conditions, which was normally between 19:00 and 21:00, when the wind had usually dropped. The clerks of the course could prolong these hours for special competitions, but for the results all flights were in general to be officially terminated at the hour of sunset. The reason given for this rule was that the flying should not interfere with any of the other arrangements of the festivities.

The flyers and their machines started arriving during the week before the meeting, but there was no flying until the day before the official opening. The Blériot that was to be flown during the meeting by Armstrong Drexel was flown into the airfield from its home base, the Beaulieu Aerodrome in East Boldre, some 30 kilometres away, by William McArdle, who ran the aerodrome together with Drexel. This was a daring flight, during which McArdle avoided flying over the New Forest and instead tried to follow the coastline. He lost his way in the morning mist, but finally recognized the Needles and could find his way to the airfield. During the evening some of the flyers made test flights. Dickson made a couple of successful flights, one with a passenger. Christiaens, James Radley and Grahame-White also made tests, and later on Launcelot Gibbs tried, but didn't get far before his propeller disintegrated, the pieces knocking holes in the wing fabric. Gibbs and George Cockburn had to spend the night in Gibbs' car, fetching a new propeller from Cockburn's hangar in Larkhill, a roundtrip of more than 120 kilometres.

Monday 11 July
The flyers, who were staying at the Burlington Hotel in Boscombe, between Bournemouth and the airfield, had arranged that the first one to wake up after 04:30 would wake all the others, so that they could make some tests before the official flights started. One of those who did was Cecil Grace, who took off at six o'clock to test his engine after a cracked cylinder head had been replaced. The repaired engine seized already during the first lap and he had to land across a road that crossed the airfield. The sunken road surface had been filled, but only with loose sand. The wheels got stuck and the machine was completely wrecked. According to "The Aero" the uninjured pilot took the setback "most philosophically" and he hoped to be able to get a replacement machine already during the day.

During the morning Gibbs came out for a test with his new propeller, but the engine didn't pull well, perhaps because the propeller had too big pitch. Alec Ogilvie also suffered from engine trouble and accepted an offer from Cecil Grace to use one of his Bollée-Wright engines. Ogilvie's assistant Searight started at noon for a drive to Sheppey and back to fetch it, a roundtrip of some 500 kilometres, with the prospect of then having to work all night to fit it. Rolls made a test flight of four laps in the morning. Grahame-White also made a test, and then took up a passenger for a short flight.

The weather was perfect at eleven o'clock when the official flights started, no wind and a covered sky. Already after five minutes Christiaens was in the air, starting a series of laps. Around forty minutes later Rolls took off. Apart from the test in the morning, this was the first flight since the tail of his Wright had been modified. The fixed horizontal rear stabilizer that he had used since the Nice meeting in April had been replaced with an all-movable elevator, which was coupled to the front elevator. This design, which was similar to the one used on the 1910-style Farmans, had been designed by Count Charles de Lambert and built by the Wright factory in France. Rolls climbed to an official 296 metres before spiralling down to land after a flight of around 30 minutes. Before the landing he made an effort for the slowest lap contest, throttling down the engine and majestically cruising around the course with the nose high. His lap took 4:13, which corresponds to an average speed of about 41 km/h. During Rolls' flight James Radley made a fast three-lap flight in his Blériot. When Radley had landed Grahame-White made a short flight to familiarize himself with the course, making elegantly banked turns close to the pylons in contrast to Christiaens' wider and flatter turns.

Only a few minutes landing Rolls took off again and flew five laps for the speed contest. Armstrong Drexel took off in his new Gnôme-engined Blériot and immediately climbed to an impressive altitude. He was not sure that it was officially measured, since he had run into wet mist and couldn't see the line on the ground that marked the measuring point, but according to the official results he had reached 595 metres. While Drexel was in the air Dickson took off, like Grahame-White not going for any prizes but only for practice around the course. Around half past one Christiaens finally landed after a flight of 47 laps in 2 h 20:52.2, which would turn out to be the second longest flight of the meeting. The inlet valves of his Gnôme engine had started to stick, so the engine lost power. Then the airfield turned quiet for a couple of hours, while most pilots and crews took a lunch break.

During the break George Barnes took off in his Humber, but after a short flight he landed in tall grass and put the machine on its nose. He was not injured, but the damaged machine would keep him out of action for two days. Alan Boyle also tried a couple of times, but he had to abort the first flight because the wings were badly adjusted and then the engine of his Avis monoplane refused to cooperate.

Soon after four the afternoon's flying started. Grahame-White took off for the altitude prize and reached 506 metres. Radley flew a lap for the speed prize. Around five o'clock Rolls also tried for the altitude prize but gave up at around 300 metres because he felt that the machine behaved strangely didn't react correctly to the controls. Whatever the problem was, probably some turbulence, it seems it solved itself. The machine soon felt normal again and nothing could be found afterwards.

Around this time somebody found a gap in the fence on the northern end of the airfield. Hundreds of people from the spectator area entered the airfield and hindered the traffic in the hangar area. Some mounted policemen were called into action and soon cleared them out and sent them back to their enclosure.

When order had been re-established Rolls took off for the five-lap speed contest, trying to beat Grahame-White, who had the best time so far. He succeeded, posting a time of 14:39.4. He was followed by Gibbs, Radley and Boyle, who all tried less successfully for the speed contests. Around a quarter past six Grahame-White filled his tanks and took of for the longest flight prize. The clouds had disappeared during the afternoon and when Drexel made his second try for the altitude prize he had no problems. He reached 759 metres and won the daily altitude prize, the first prize of the meeting to be won. Radley, on his third try, and then Christiaens both managed to beat Rolls' speeds, the day's best time over five laps being Christiaens' 13:32.2.

Soon afterwards Dickson took off, flew a couple of laps around the course and finished with a perfect "vol plané". He then took off again and climbed to some 350 metres before aiming his machine westwards and disappearing towards the Bournemouth town centre. He was gone for a quarter of an hour before he was spotted returning over Southbourne, obviously coming down from high altitude. He flew two laps around the course, then cut the engine at the far end of the airfield and glided across the entire field in a straight vol plané, briefly started the engine in order to clear a rough patch, then cut it again for a perfect landing right in front of the hangars. According to "The Aero" it was "the most beautiful piece of judgment of distance and pace one could possibly see, and moved the privileged few in the envied hangar enclosure to such a pitch of enthusiasm that they rushed out to the machine and practically carried Dickson back in triumph".

While this was going on Grahame-White was still circling, and he didn't land until 20:50, after a flight of 52 laps in 2 h 34:56.2 that would eventually win him the longest flight prize. The timing should have stopped at sunset, which was at 20:13, but the officials had wavered the curfew rule and let the clocks run, a decision that would prove controversial.

Tuesday 12 July
The airfield was quiet during the morning. The first event of the day was the first day of the precision landing contest, which was to be held between 11:00 and 13:00. Although the weather was bright, the contest was troubled by winds of up to 6 m/s that blew from the southeast along the airfield, obliquely across the course and towards the grandstands. The target for the contest was the centre of a circle with a diameter of 100 yards that was marked across the start/finish line in front of the grandstand, and before the landing the flyers had to cross the start/finish line.

Grahame-White was first to try. He chose to turn left after the first pylon and then fly a low S-turn across the wind and land with the wind from behind and right. He had some trouble stopping his engine and therefore overshot the target by 13 metres. Audemars was second to try. His machine had arrived during the night and this was his first flight. After a very quick take-off he flew a lap around the course, but then came down in high grass. The light-tailed Demoiselle nosed over and came to rest flat on its back. Neither the pilot nor the machine was damaged, and he would be back in the air after a couple of hours. Then Rolls made his first effort, trying the same lines as Grahame-White and overshooting by 24 metres. Next came Dickson. He landed downwind, cut his engine outside the circle and tried to slow the machine down by pulling his elevator sharp up. He lost lift and dropped almost vertically from several metres. The very heavy landing broke his landing gear and a wing, and a rigging wire from the landing gear got tangled in the propeller and the valve mechanism of the still rotating engine.

Just before one o'clock Rolls made a second attempt. This time he tried a different line, circling back to fly far outside the course and approach the circle straight into the wind from above the grandstands. He descended steeply after clearing the grandstands and crossed the airfield fence around 40 feet above the ground. It was obvious that he was about to undershoot, so he pulled the elevator sharply. The sudden control input overloaded the lightly built structure that held the rear elevator, which collapsed with a sharp crack. Deprived of the control surface, the machine pitched down and hit the ground almost vertically. It rolled over on its back and Rolls was thrown out of his seat and came to rest on the inverted top wing. The accident had happened just in front of the main grandstands and lots of people came running. Policemen and officials formed a ring around the accident site to stop photographers and curious spectators from reaching the machine.

From a distance Rolls didn't look badly injured, but he had died immediately from the violent concussion. He was the first British pilot to die in an air accident, and the ninth in the world. He was not only one of the most proficient British flyers, but also a scientifically interested person, and his death was a heavy loss for British aviation. In the aftermath of the accident it was questioned whether the landing contest should have been postponed in view of the difficult wind conditions. The most likely cause of the failure of the tail was found to be that one of the light struts that formed the outrigger structure had buckled sideways due to the sudden vertical load on the elevator and been struck by one of the propellers.

The rest of the day's program was immediately cancelled in respect of the tragedy.

Wednesday 13 July
The weather was bright, but still too windy to be a perfect flying day. In the morning Cody tested his machine, but the engine didn't run well. His new machine had originally been intended for a 100 hp Phoenix rotary engine, but this could not be delivered and the backup plan was to use two 50-60 hp Green engines. Only one of these were fitted and it was obviously not enough. Ogilvie tested his Wright, now fitted with Grace's engine, and completed four laps of the course before making a neat practice landing at the target of the landing contest, coming down within four metres of the centre.

The organizers were careful not to risk another serious accident and therefore decided to postpone the weight-carrying contest that should have been run on the Wednesday and Thursday. They thought, quite correctly as developments would prove, that it invited risky flying. After the opening of official flights at eleven o'clock Grahame-White was first in the air, at 11:15. He first made a short test flight and then a longer flight with a passenger. An hour later Cody made another unsatisfactory test and returned to his hangar. Not much happened until Morane flew two fast laps in his brand new "racing" single-seat machine at half past one. After he landed Grahame-White made another passenger flight. Around three o'clock Dickson flew a couple of laps, and then Grahame-White made a series of passenger flights.

At around four o'clock the patient crowd finally got some "much-needed comic relief", according to the reporter from "The Aero", when Audemars turned out with his Demoiselle. He continued: "Nothing so excruciatingly funny as the action of this machine has ever been seen at any aviation ground. The little two-cylinder engine pops away with a sound like the frantic drawing of ginger-beer corks; the machine scutters along the ground with its tail well up; then down comes the tail suddenly and seems to slap the ground while the front jumps up, and all the spectators rock with laughter. The whole attitude and the jerky action of the machine suggest a grasshopper in a furious rage, and the impression is intensified when it comes down, as it did twice on Wednesday, in the long grass, burying its head in the ground in its temper". Audemars explained that he was quite used to the machine nosing over, and that it seldom caused any damages. He wore a padded leather helmet and when he came down to land he prepared himself by bracing himself with the head against the fuselage tubing and his feet on the pedals. According to the reporter, Audemars had a stack of spare wings in his hangar, "like a pack of cards", and the fixed central part of the wing was "like a patchwork quilt where it has had bits of fabric stuck on after turning over on rough ground and having holes knocked in it".

At five o'clock Morane brought out his Blériot again and made a spectacular vol plané in a tight spiral from a height of around 100 metres. At around six o'clock he made a third flight, this time climbing high at a steep angle in small circles, hardly leaving the airfield. After climbing for nine minutes he again switched off the engine and spiralled down. After a turn around the timers' pavilion, he landed in the middle of the landing target circle, bounced off it, switched on the engine, flew another circle and then back to his hangar. His altitude was recorded as 1,252 metres, winning the day's altitude prize and beating Drexel's mark from the day before.

As usual the action improved towards the evening when the wind decreased, and the flying went on until nine o'clock on a perfect evening. Grahame-White made several more passenger flights in his "aerobus". Grace, Barnes and Boyle all made short flights, all suffering from engine troubles, the latter landing in the bracken outside the course. Drexel tried to take back his lead in the altitude contest, but his engine didn't deliver full power and he had to give up. Morane flew five fast laps for the speed prize. His time was 9:34.4, a result that wouldn't be beaten during the rest of the meeting. His best lap time was 1:53.4, which would also stand unbeaten. Wagner's crew had assembled his Hanriot during the day and he made a test flight, the stability of the machine in the air impressing the onlookers. Rawlinson made a short flight. Dickson took Morane as a passenger in his Farman, reportedly with Morane working the stick and Dickson the pedals. Gibbs tried to fly a lap with a lady passenger, but his engine was still not pulling well and to add to his misery the machine was difficult to control and didn't want to leave the ground. Ogilvie made a second flight and landed at the far end of the field. One of the cylinders of his borrowed engine had blown off, which meant another long drive for Mr. Searight to fetch a new replacement, this time a 350-kilometre roundtrip to London! The last to land was Audemars, who despite his two somersaults flew several laps during the day and finished with his best time of the day, 2:24.4.

Thursday 14 July
At six o'clock on the morning Cody made a test flight of almost a lap. The official flying of the day started with the second and last day of the contests for starting and landing prize, which were scheduled to take place between eleven o'clock and one o'clock. Most pilots didn't try during the first hour and a half, so things got quite rushed and confused at the end, and nobody even got to make the second of their three allowed efforts. Ogilvie, who had fitted wheels to his Short/Wright, which normally started from a rail, in order to be allowed to participate in the event ran out of time completely in the queue for the landing contest and couldn't even make one effort.

The two contests took place at the same time, and the pilots could try for both prizes during the same flight. Only Grahame-White, Christiaens, and Dickson tried this, since it necessitated a 360-degree turn and even though the wind was blowing from a favourable direction most pilots thought it was not worth the risk. Eight pilots contested the starting prize. Dickson won by taking off in 32.18 meters, beating Morane by the unbelievably narrow margin of one inch. How anybody could have judged this by eyesight is beyond belief…

Just after one o'clock Grahame-White made a second effort, which was good enough to have moved him into first place. Christiaens, supported by Morane, Audemars and Wagner, protested strongly when Grahame-White's result was initially allowed. They thought that decision, together with the decision to allow Grahame-White to be timed after sunset on the first day, a possibility that the claimed they weren't even informed about, proved that the British flyers were favoured by the officials. They shut their doors, hauled down the flags from their hangars and threatened to go on strike and leave the airfield. Some of the British flyers sportingly sided with them. The officials made a quick investigation and found out that the watch of one of them was four minutes behind, so Grahame-White's second effort was disallowed. This pleased the foreign pilots, who hoisted their flags again.

All the three pilots who tried to improve their landing prize results succeeded. Grahame-White landed seven feet of the centre of the target and won. Christiaens got within nine metres and took second, while the unfortunate Rolls' best effort from the Tuesday remained good enough for third. After the rush to finish these contests the wind from the sea increased and brought mist and lower temperatures with it.

It was not until around six o'clock that action started again. Grahame-White made several passenger flights all through the evening. On one of them he brought a photographer with a cinema camera who took movie pictures over the sea and the airfield installations. The well-known actor Robert Loraine, who flew under the pseudonym "Jones", brought out his Farman for the first time. His crew had worked around the clock for three days, repairing it after a crash the week before. The test went well, but after a couple of laps he landed at the far end of the field. Dickson made a couple of flights, again finishing with a long glide from the far end of the field. Radley flew a couple of laps, showing good speed. Morane made two flights, reaching 625 metres during the second. Grace flew a lap for the speed contest, but he landed on the straight after the start/finish line.

The crowd-pleasing Audemars kept the crowds amused with some tricks: He could make pirouettes on one wheel, and he could make the machine bow to the applause of the spectators by lifting the tail! He flew five laps in 11:56.8, putting him in second place in the speed contest. His one-lap time of 2:20.8, also good enough for second after Morane, who didn't improve on his previous best times, despite turning extremely tight and banking steeply. Wagner also tried for the speed contest. His corresponding results were 12:18.8 and 2:24.2, good enough for third place. Both Dickson and Grahame-White made two efforts at the slow flying price, but they couldn't beat Rolls' time from the first day.

Later in the evening both Loraine and Grace managed to bring their machines back to their hangars under their own power. Radley and Boyle took off. The former had to give up early with a seized engine, but Boyle made a successful flight. While Boyle was in the air Rawlinson took off in his Farman, an old and worn machine that always flew with the left wing low. On the back straight he dropped too low and the left wing touched the soft ground. The machine slewed sideways and crashed to the ground. The landing gear was wiped out, together with the rudder pedals and footrests, which were below the level of the leading edge of the lower wing. Rawlinson broke his left ankle immediately in the crash, and when he hit the ground after being thrown off the seat he dislocated his right shoulder. According to the reporter from "The Aero" the plucky Rawlinson, conscious all the time and in obvious great pain, chatted amicably with the stretcher bearers when he was carried away.

Friday 15 July
The weather was fine in the morning, but during the day the winds from the south-east increased and in the end stopped all flying. No competitive flying took place until three o'clock, when the postponed weight-carrying contest started. The object of this contest was to carry the heaviest payload, including at least one passenger, around one lap of the course. Morane was first to take off, but his flight with M. Chereau, Blériot's British manager as passenger was only a short test of the new two-seat model XI-2 bis, which suffered from problems with the wing warping controls. The first competitive flight was made by Grahame-White, who in addition to Fred Coleman of the White Steam Car company also took some lead sheet aboard to increase the payload. They didn't get further than the first pylon since the engine didn't run well.

Next off was Christiaens, with his mechanic Mr. Mathis as passenger. They got off well and completed the first straight in the 7 m/s headwind and passed the second pylon. They were flying low, and when they turned across the wind around the sharp turn at the third pylon they didn't carry enough speed. When they got the wind straight from behind they quickly lost the little altitude that they had. Christiaens tried to turn out of the tailwind, but they came down in a barley field outside the course. Christiaens tried to take off immediately while still rolling, with the only result that the machine hit the ditch at the end of the field. With the wheels stuck in the ditch the machine turned over into the neighbouring field, throwing Christiaens and his passenger off. They were lucky, because the fuselage turned over completely, the engine tearing itself loose and crushing everything in front of it. Christiaens got away with a strained back and Mathis with a bruised shoulder. The machine was completely destroyed and the tail broke off and fell back into the first field. Christiaens was driven to his hotel, where he had to rest for a couple of days, but Mathis stayed at the wreck, working with one hand to remove the few parts that were worth salvaging.

Dickson was next. After hearing about Christiaens' accident, he decided immediately before the start to lighten his machine by 13 kg by changing to a lighter passenger, the Earl of Hardwicke. The take-off went well and when approaching the difficult turn at the east end of the field Dickson showed his airmanship by avoiding the dangers of the tight turn around the third pylon. He went wide of the course and used the updraught set up by the cliffs by the seafront to gain some height. He didn't lose any altitude at the turn and returned to make a perfect landing after completing the required lap. Since he was only competitor to complete the course he won the prize.

There were again some protests, since the officials had decided to restrict the contest, which was originally intended to be run on the two previous days, to only one day. Furthermore they had decided that all flights had to be made by 15:30. This ruled out both Morane and Grahame-White, who both had to make some adjustments and ran out of time.

Around four o'clock Wagner took off to try to improve his result in the speed contest. He completed the required five laps but didn't improve his result. The Friday was the first day to compete for the Sea Flight Prize, and the first to try was Morane, who took off at 16:25. He immediately climbed high and disappeared in the mist. Around 20 minutes later he was spotted from Hengistbury Head coming back from the Needles in a vol plané. Spectators in one of the many boats that patrolled the course stated that he had shut down the engine at least three kilometres away from land and glided home with the help of the tailwind. He landed at 16:51 after a flight of 25:12.4, and his barograph indicated that he had reached an altitude of 1,200 metres during the flight.

Drexel took off at 16:35, flying into the by now much stronger wind. His machine was visibly slower than Morane's and didn't appear to run well. Around five o'clock people at the airfield started to worry that he might have had an accident, but soon afterward he was spotted over the sea, far south of the direct course back from the Needles. He finally he landed at 17:10, his engine sounding very sick. He stated that it had missed on one cylinder all the way, and that he was quite lost on the way home, since the sun shining through the haze over the sea made a white wall in front of him. He had experienced a lot of turbulence over the Needles. The updraught set up by the hills on the Isle of Wight reached him even at a height of 600 metres.

Wagner tried next, but his landing gear was bent during the bumpy take-off run. He made some temporary repairs out on the field and could return to the hangars under his own power. Grace tested his engine, which apparently ran well, because he immediately climbed high and made two excursions out of the field along the valley of the Stour. He was watched by his parents, who had never seen him fly before. He gave up after reaching 350 metres because of the turbulence and the strong winds. He came down with a fine glide, then started the engine near the ground and flew over the grandstands and public areas. He finally landed in some soft ground and punctured a tyre, but his flight was praised because he had managed the obviously difficult conditions. The wind kept increasing and the last flights were made by Morane, who impressed with some dives and steeply banked turns, and Grahame-White, who made a couple of more passenger flights in his "aero-taxi".

Saturday 16 July
The morning of the last day of the meeting started with hard winds from the east, and just after lunch a rainstorm fell. Not only did it drench all the people that were on the way to the airfield, it also spoiled the garden party that F. J. Bell, the chairman of the Fetes Committee, was giving in honour of the aviators. Grahame-White's new 100 horsepower Blériot, which had been delayed on the railway, finally arrived during the morning. It was intended that Morane would take it up for its first test flight, since Grahame-White didn't have any recent experience on monoplanes, but it didn't make any flights during the meeting. Farman's engineer Blondeau came down to check Gibbs' machine and found out that it had been delivered with the wrong rigging and was completely out of trim, explaining its poor performance.

The wind speed was around 6 m/s, with gusts up to 11 m/s, when Loraine made the first flight. He stayed in the air for 16 minutes, with a best lap of 3:13.4. Then Dickson started, intending to go for the distance prize, but he gave up after two laps because of the winds. Audemars also flew a lap.

Around three o'clock Loraine took off to go for the sea flight prize. The weather didn't look promising. The winds had reduced somewhat, but heavy rain clouds threatened from the east. Loraine was cheered when he flew the obligatory lap of the course and then steered out over the sea, where he soon disappeared out of sight in the mist. Five minutes later a heavy rainstorm struck the airfield and when Loraine didn't come back after the expected half hour everybody at the airfield started to get worried. Time passed - forty-five minutes, then an hour, then an hour and a quarter and still no news. People with sailing experience stated that in such conditions it would be impossible to find somebody who had fallen into the sea.

Boyle had finally managed to solve the engine problems that had plagued him the whole week. While Loraine was still gone he prepared for a flight, despite the rain. Ha made a good take-off and rounded the first two pylons, but then came down in a clover field. The wheels stuck in the wet vegetation and the machined turned over abruptly. Boyle was thrown out and hit his head hard against the steel wing rigging structure in front of the cockpit. He was fortunately wearing a new felt-padded leather helmet that he had been given by Morane, and this certainly saved his life. He didn't break any bones, but he suffered a very bad concussion and remained unconscious for more than an hour. He remained in the nearby Boscombe hospital for more than a month, from time to time unconscious, before being moved to a local nursing home. He couldn't leave Bournemouth and go home to his native Scotland until the end of September. He never recovered completely from the effects of the concussion and still suffered from problems with his eyesight several months afterwards.

Wagner flew five laps for the speed contest. His time was reported as 9:57, with a fastest lap of 1:57. This was a big improvement on his previous best and would have been good enough for second place, but for some reason it was not recorded in the list of results. He landed heavily after completing the flight and broke the landing gear. Radley flew a lap and then Morane took "Géo" Chávez, who had recently bought a Blériot, on board for a passenger flight. Grace also flew five laps in 12:12, also an improvement on his previous best, but like Wagner's time it was not recorded. Audemars and Drexel also flew, making it five machines in the air at the same time. William McArdle, who was not entered as a competitor, borrowed Drexel's machine and made a flight over Bournemouth to Poole Harbour in the rain, some fifteen kilometres away, and back. The committee offered him £ 50 as reward for his fine flight, even though he was not entered as a competitor. He gracefully declined it and expressed a wish that it should go to the Centenary Fetes Fund instead.

At around half past four a telegram finally arrived from the Needles lighthouse, telling that a biplane had been seen on the cliffs of the Isle of Wight. This was a big relief for Loraine's anxious friends at the airfield, and soon afterwards Loraine himself made a telephone call and told that he had landed safely near Alum Bay, wet and cold but completely unharmed. The weather improved towards the evening and several pilots made flights. George Colmore, who had spent most of the meeting in his hangar, finally took out his Short for a first flight. Since he was the only pilot flying an all-British machine his only flight won him the £ 100 prize collected by Lord Montagu. Grace, Dickson and Radley also flew. Audemars made yet another somersault in his Demoiselle, again without injuries, but this time necessitating some repairs. Grahame-White made his trip to the Needles and back in much better conditions than Loraine. He flew at high altitude all the way and won the third prize with a time of 45:47.

The officials had apparently listened to the protests, because they reopened the weight-carrying contest and allowed the flyers to try for the second and third prizes, which hadn't been won the day before. Grahame-White lifted 193 kilograms and Morane 187, both results better than Dickson's winning effort of the day before. Later on, Morane took up two ladies as passengers at the same time. This was the first time in Britain when three people flew in a heavier-than-air machine.

Conclusion
The death of the popular Charles Rolls and the serious injuries of Alan Boyle and Alfred Rawlinson were hard blows to British aviation and of course cast a shadow over the meeting.

Morane won almost half the prize money, and he was also given the "General Merit Prize", which was awarded to the competitors who, in the opinion of the stewards of the meeting, "performed most meritoriously" during the meeting. Drexel, Grahame-White and Dickson won second to fourth prizes. The British aviation press was disappointed with the performance of the British machines, and particularly the British engines. It was pointed out that Gnôme-engined machines won £ 6,915 and machines powered by other French engines won £ 785, while British engines only accounted for £ 150, of which £100 was a prize that could only be won by an all-British machine.

The meeting was also criticized for the lack of flying action during large parts of the days. Most of the flights were made as late as possible, towards sunset, when conditions were best. Proposals were made for a prize structure that would encourage flights to be made all through the day at future meetings.

Back to the top of the page