90 years ago we saw the first flight of the Moth aircraft - one of the most iconic, innovative and important planes of all time.
Designed and produced in 1925 by “The De Havilland Aircraft Company”, a predecessor of BAE Systems, the Moth encapsulates the technological innovation that still defines BAE Systems today.
It was designer Geoffrey de Havilland’s first attempt to develop a mass-produced light aircraft for civil training and private use after World War 1, when a wealthy customer requested a custom biplane. De Havilland’s successful design was the DH.60, which he dubbed the ‘Moth’ because of its moth-like wings which were designed to fold back against the plane so it could be stowed in small spaces and even towed by car. Inspiration for the plane’s iconic wing design seems to have come from the insects that de Havilland developed a fascination for as a child, after his mother gifted him ‘The Book of British Moths’ for his 15th birthday.
BAE Systems still houses de Havilland’s ‘Book of Moths’ at its extensive Heritage Archives in Farnborough, and maintains and flies the oldest flying Moth at The Shuttleworth Trust in Old Warden (Bedfordshire), where it can be seen at regular summer air displays. To celebrate the 90th anniversary of this legendary aircraft, the Moth Club threw an event at Shuttleworth on 3rd June. Eight Moths were flown at the event which was well-attended by many members of the Moth Club including the Club’s President, the Duchess of Bedford.
The Moth series of aircraft led to the famous Tiger Moth which was used to train pilots before and during the Second World War. With over eight thousand built, in many ways it was a harbinger of BAE Systems’ world-renowned advanced jet trainer aircraft, the Hawk, which is currently producing highly trained pilots for 21 of the world’s air forces.
BAE Systems’ engineers continue to use nature as a source of inspiration for pioneering designs across our products and programmes. This can be seen in the miniature unmanned vehicles, inspired by spiders and dragonflies, that were designed for our Micro Autonomous Systems and Technology (MAST) programme, in the gecko-inspired “super-adhesive” developed to repair aircraft, and in the tiny bug-eyed camera that is helping British troops to see better in the dark.
At Shuttleworth you can see 19 BAE Systems’ predecessor aircraft dating from before the Second World War. A full calendar of upcoming events can be found here: