Notable personalities in Aviation in Berkshire

Berkshire's first aviator is likely to have been The Reverend John Bacon who carried out scientific experiments from his balloon at Newbury at the turn of the century.

Patrick Alexander was a contemporary of John Bacon who became an international figure in aviation. In his latter years he lived at Windsor and taught aeronautics there.

Geoffrey de Havilland, who later set up the celebrated aircraft company, taught himself to fly near Newbury in the first decade of this century in an aircraft of his own design.

Charles Lindbergh, the first man to fly solo across the Atlantic in 1927 was at Woodley in 1936 and purchased a Miles Mohawk aircraft.

Amy Johnson, the celebrated solo long distance pilot who established several records, was a frequent pre-war visitor to Woodley and also served in the ATA at White Waltham prior to being killed in 1941.

Jim Mollison, Amy Johnson's well-known husband, also flew from White Waltham.

Jacqueline Cochrane, the famous American aviatrix, was also there with the ATA in 1942.

Lettice Curtis, another ATA pilot who in 1948 held the ladies world speed record, still lives locally and flies helicopters from White Waltham.

Blossom Miles, the wife of F.G.Miles, the aircraft designer and builder, was also a personality in her own right, being a talented designer.

George Miles, aircraft designer and test pilot.

Alan Cobham, the racing driver, worked as a pilot with Berkshire Aviation Tours and later operated his flying circus in the county in the early 30s.

Miles test pilot Tommy Rose won the Kings Cup in 1935.

Peter Twiss, test pilot with Fairey Aviation that operated from White Waltham, was one of the first to fly at supersonic speed.

The designer of the Hurricane fighter, Sir Sydney Camm, whose aircraft were produced at the Langley factory, lived at No 10 Alma Road, Windsor.

It was at Woodley that Douglas Bader, later to become a legend as a Battle of Britain fighter pilot, lost his legs in a flying accident in 1931. It was the staff at the Royal Berkshire Hospital that saved his life.

Other personalities of note, Tommy Sopwith, Gustav Hamel and Henri Salmet also had associations with the Royal County.

Harald Penrose, a test pilot for Westland Aircraft.

Air Commodore Allen H Wheeler, Commanding Officer of RAe Experimental flight at Farnborough during the WW II.

On Monday, December 14, 1931, Douglas Bader flew from Kenley to Woodley airfield along with two other pilots from his squadron. In the Woodley clubhouse a young pilot was discussing acrobatics with Bader, the Hendon star, and suggested that he give a demonstration of low flying. Bader refused, citing his inexperience flying acrobatics in a Bulldog. The matter was dropped until Bader and the other pilots were leaving. Someone dared him to do it. In some agitation Bader took off, then turned back toward the field. Flying low and fast across the field, Bader began a slow roll, but in his inexperience with the Bulldog he flew too low. The Bulldog's left wing struck the ground, and the plane cartwheeled quickly into a tangle of wreckage. Both of Bader's legs were crushed, his left leg under the seat, his right tom by the rudder pedal. Bader was pulled from the Bulldog's wreckage by shocked onlookers and taken immediately to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, where he was placed in the care of Dr. Leonard Joyce, one of England's best surgeons. Joyce immediately amputated Bader's right leg above the smashed knee and, several days later, the left leg six inches below the knee. After his second amputation, Bader's condition worsened. None of the doctors expected the 21-year-old pilot to survive. But Bader had great will to live.