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Blackburn
1912 Monoplane

The oldest British aeroplane that remains in flying condition.
Blackburn 1912 Monoplane March 1913 Lofthouse Park The Blackburn 1912 Monoplane in March 1913 at Lofthouse Park, Leeds with Cyril Foggin (right) and Harold Blackburn (left).

 
Although not definitively resolved, it is reported in the 1989 edition of Blackburn Aircraft Since 1909 (where it is described as the ‘Blackburn Single-Seat Monoplane’) that the Cyril Foggin machine was described in a contemporary Blackburn Sales Ledger as ‘Type D No 776’. However, even this remains the subject of some debate and hence the machine is described here as the Blackburn 1912 Monoplane.

 

Robert Blackburn, one of the UK's earliest aviation designers and pioneers, initially experimented with flying from the beaches at Marske, Saltburn and then Filey in North Yorkshire. He made his first recorded flight in the Spring of 1909 although it was hardly a 'controlled flight' and his machine was finally destroyed in 1910 during his attempt to make a turn whilst in flight.

 

Blackburn achieved much greater success however with his second monoplane, which was flown at Filey on 8 March 1911. The machine was designed and built for Cyril Foggin, who later became an accomplished aviator in the Royal Flying Corps.

 

This 1912 Monoplane was powered by a 50 hp Gnome rotary engine and had a triangular cross section fuselage, constructed as a wood and cloth covered.  Early designs of this era utilised wing-warping rather than any form of aileron control surfaces. 

 

The aircraft was used for a number of customer demonstration flights from Lofthouse Park (between Leeds and Wakefield) and Blackburn himself used the aircraft to promote his fledgling business by dropping sales leaflets over the wealthy areas of Harrowgate to the north and Stamford to the south. The diminutive machine also made a number of cross-country flights in April 1913 and on 23rd, 24th and 25th July 1913 made daily newspaper delivery flights between Leeds and York which gained huge publicity.

 

This second bblackburn design was followed by a successful series of Mercury monoplanes (the Mercury I, II and II, of which a grand total of nine were built) these all being flown at Filey and at Hendon.

 

Eventually, Foggins sold the monoplane to Montague Glew, a recent graduate of the Blackburn Flying Schoool. Glew gave flying demonstrations around the UK and he suffered a number of accidents and minor crashes, predominently due to his poor piloting skills. It was during a local flight that Glew crashed the aircraft at Wittering, Lincolnshire in 1914.

 

 

Blackburn 1912 Monoplane ground Brough Jan 1953 The Blackburn 1912 Monoplane outside the flying school hangar at Brough in January 1953.
 

The remains of the aircraft were stored on a family farm and here they laid until they were  discovered and acquired by Richard Shuttleworth in 1938.

 

A number of components were ttotally unusable such the main wing spars and engine cowling which all needed to be replaced. The restored airframe eventually flew at Henlow on 17th September 1949 in the hands of AH Wheeler.

 

This rare survivor is the oldest British-built aeroplane that remains in flying condition today and it can be seen flying in suitably calm conditions, when displayed at the various air shows staged by the Shuttleworth Collection at Old Warden, Bedfordshire. 

 
Blackburn 1912 Monoplane Old Warden 5 Oct 2014 The Blackburn 1912 Monoplane flying at Old Warden on 5th Oct 2014.
 

Numbers Built

The surviving Blackburn Single-Seat Monoplane is believed to be the single example constructed for Mr Cyril E Foggin. It is normally referred to as the Blackburn 1912 Monoplane.

Specification

Powerplant One 50 hp Gnome rotary engine
Span 32 ft 1 in
Maximum Weight 980 lb
Capacity  Pilot only
Maximum Speed 60 mph
Range / Endurance 2.5 hours

Survivors

1912 Monoplane               Maintained in flying condition with the Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden, Bedfordshire www.shuttleworth.org