Frank McClean: The Godfather of British Naval Aviation

Frank McClean: The Godfather of British Naval Aviation

ISBN: 1848321090 | 2011 | EPUB | 192 Pages | 29 MB

During aviation's pioneering years Francis Kennedy McClean used his vast inherited wealth to help the now famous Short Brothers company to become established as one of Britain's greatest aircraft manufacturers and, in doing so, helped the Royal Navy's first pilots into the air. In short, he was the Godfather of British naval aviation.

But McClean did much more than even that. He was himself a balloonist and pioneer aviator, flying with Wilbur Wright in France in December 1908. He provided the Royal Aero Club with one of the first flying grounds in the UK, personally purchased no fewer than sixteen airplanes from Short Brothers before the First World War and also acted as the company's unpaid test pilot. Convinced that aviation was destined play a vital role in the nation's defense, he made his own airplanes freely available to the Territorial Army and Royal Navy for pilot training and ensured that the Navy had a suitable site from which to fly, thereby founding England's first naval flying school, at Eastchurch in Kent. One of his better-known exploits was a flight up the Thames to Westminster on 10 August 1912, during which he flew between the upper and lower spans of Tower Bridge and passed beneath the other bridges. Despite all these achievements he remained unassuming, modest and reticent.

McClean's great influence and significance are revealed for the first time in this informative and entertaining book.


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