2013 marked the centenary of the first ever attempt to fly around the British Isles. In 1913 the Daily Mail offered a prize of £5,000 for the first seaplane to complete the course which was to take place between the 16th and 31st August of that year. Of the four planes that turned up at the start in Southampton only one, piloted by a young Australian, Harry Hawker, managed to get underway. However, having completed 1043 miles of the course up the east coast of England, then across Scotland and while flying down the east coast of Ireland, unfortunately the plane crashed into the sea in Loughshinny Bay. In these early days of aviation, when planes were little more than light wooden frames covered with fabric, this epic flight was recognised as the most meritorious feat yet performed and Hawker was awarded a silver medal by the Royal Aeronautical Society and a consolation prize of £1,000 by the Daily Mail. He also received a telegram of congratulations from the First lord of the Admiralty, Winston Churchill.
Harry Hawker was born in Moorabbin, Victoria and came to England in 1912 to learn how to fly. He showed outstanding ability and after only three lessons could fly solo for up to an hour. Having been granted his pilot's ticket, in September of that year he won the British Empire Michelin Cup and soon held the British records for distance,altitude and duration. While working for Sopwith Aviation Company he developed and test-piloted hundreds of planes for the First World War and even attempted the first trans-Atlantic crossing in 1919. This competition was also sponsored by the Daily Mail and Hawker received a prize of £5,000 and, although not part of the military, was awarded the first Air Force Cross by George V at Buckingham Palace. Hawker died in an air crash in 1921.
During Heritage Week this year, to commemorate the centenary, the around Britain flight was recreated by a fellow Australian, Jeff Boyling, in a 1943 Catalina Seaplane. On Saturday 24th August, around 1.00 p.m. the Catalina made a special flight over Loughshinny. Then on Sunday 25th August, starting at 2.30 p.m., the Australian Ambassador to Ireland will unveiled a plaque at Loughshinny Harbour to commemorate the centenary of the first around Britain flight by Harry Hawker which ended here. An afternoon of festivities and music followed with an aerial display by Air Dynamics, followed by the Blessing of the boats in the harbour. A photographic exhibition of Hawker's life and times was held in the local school hall where the Ambassador also presented prizes to all the children who participated in the school Hawker Project.
The event was being organised by the Loughshinny and Rush Historical Society in conjunction with the Loughshinny Community Council and was sponsored by Fingal County Council and Dublin Airport Authority
Here are some pictures from the event that were kindly submitted by Jack Corry.
Photo album created with Web Album Generator