Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Seaplane flypast marks 1931 Schneider Trophy victory

Seaplane flypast marks 1931 Schneider Trophy victory

I touched upon the Schneider Trophy air races of the 1920s and early Thirties back in March when the Spitfire, the ultimate descendant of the Supermarine S-series seaplanes that took part in them, celebrated it's 75th anniversary.

Yesterday, however, marked the 80th anniversary of the last Schneider Trophy race which was held at Southampton Water in Hampshire and was won for the third time in succession by Great Britain.  This feat allowed the British team to keep the trophy for all time and signalled the end of the competition.  The Supermarine S.6B that won did so at a record-breaking speed of 379mph, later raising it again to 407mph and as has been said setting the template for the famous Spitfire fighter.  The original Schneider Trophy and the S.6B now both reside in the London Science Museum.

As many as half a million people crowded on to the beaches around the Solent to watch the 1931 race and what that must have been like one can only imagine.  That the idea behind the Schneider Trophy - of advancing the field of aeronautical engineering - was so widely embraced not only by the aircraft manufacturers but also by the general population of no less than 4 nations (Great Britain, France, Italy and the United States all took part) shows how much aviation enthralled people during that period.  I've featured it before but footage of the 1929 event bears reshowing; the roar of the Merlin engines, the sheer speed of the aircraft and the hundreds of thousands of spectators cheering them on is something that sadly may never be recaptured.



Today, as the accompanying article explains, two modern seaplanes (and the death of the seaplane has been greatly exaggerated, by the way!) have flown the same course as in 1931 by way of commemoration.  It seems a small act in comparison to the majesty of the original races and the important part they played in eventually ensuring the continued existence of this country, but at least they are being remembered in some fashion.  We may never be able to recreate the evocative images and thrills associated with the Schneider Trophy races but this certainly gives us a chance to look back and marvel at those magnificent men (pilots and designers) and their flying machines who went before.

2 comments:

  1. Thanks for popping over. You are more than welcome for the mention, I so enjoy the way that you write. I'm guilty of often reading a lot more than I comment. But in at risk of being gushy, I do think your blog is fabulously interesting. :O)x

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  2. As always a most intresting post, sea planes are certainly magnificent hope one day to fly in one.

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