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2023 Online Events Programme

The full details of The Great War Aviation Society's online events programme is listed here. All members and subscribers to Wind in the Wires will receive an email close to the time of each event which will contain full details and a registration link. Please sign up to Wind in the Wires, which is our FREE newsletter to receive registration details. All times are GMT.
 
Thomas Sopwith & his Sopwith Aviation Company 
David Hassard BTech CEng FIET
8.00pm Tuesday 21st February
The story of the early life of Thomas Sopwith and the development of his Sopwith Aviation Company in Kingston upon Thames through the Great War including images of all aircraft types, charts of numbers built by Sopwith and other contractors, and company financial performance.

 David is a life-long aviation enthusiast. He joined Westland Aircraft as a Technical Apprentice in 1959 and, with a degree in Manufacturing Engineering, progressed to senior manufacturing management roles. Retiring back to his wife’s home town of Kingston upon Thames, by 2012 he had jointly created the Kingston Aviation Centenary Project.  This celebrates the achievements of tens of thousands of people who worked for Sopwith Aviation, Hawker Aircraft, Hawker Siddeley, and British Aerospace in Kingston from 1912 to 1992.  The project continues to organize exhibitions and give talks on that heritage.  Over the last ten years, David’s personal focus has been the detailed research for a week-by-week diary of the Sopwith Aviation Company and its products.  This talk summarises the extraordinary story of that Great War aircraft company.

 

Oswald Boelcke: Germany’s First Fighter Ace 
Brig Gen RG Head, USAF (Ret.) 
8.00pm, Thursday 16th March
This presentation is a fighter pilot’s version of Oswald Boelcke’s biography. It features slide photographs of his youth, training, flying the Fokker Eindecker for his first victories, his award of the Pour le Merite (the Blue Max), his command of one of the first fighters squadrons, his victories, his accidental death and his epic funeral ceremonies where he was honoured by members of the Royal Flying Corps.

 

Brig. Gen. RG Head, USAF (Ret.) is an Air Force Fighter and Attack Pilot with 325 combat missions. He is a graduate in the second class from the U.S. Air Force Academy in 1960 and was first in his pilot training class. He had six overseas tours of which four were in the Far East. He was awarded a PhD in Political Science from Syracuse University, following which he taught at the Air Force Academy. His military awards include the Silver Star, Distinguished Flying Cross, the Air Medal with 12 Oak Leaf Clusters and the Distinguished Service Medal. He served in four policy-making positions in the Pentagon and overseas. He has over 3,000 hours in fighter aircraft, including the F-100, F-4C/D/E, A-1, and F-16.

 

The Flying Boat War Over The Adriatic 
Jon Guttman 
3.15pm Saturday April 22nd 2023
A unique aspect of World War I aviation was the brief career of the flying boat fighter. Begun when Godfrey Banfield, an Irish expatriate turned Austrian (as Gottfried Banfield) bolted a Schwarzelose machine gun to his Lohner L16 and went on to shoot down four Allied aircraft in one month, the air battles over the Adriatic Sea would see several purpose-built flying boat fighters enter combat on both sides. The most successful and most-produced was the Italian Macchi M5, the mount of three Italian naval aces and of Charles Hammann, the first American combat pilot to be awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

This talk will be the subject of our annual Leaman Lecture.  

 

Jon Guttman, a resident of Leesburg, Virginia, is currently the senior editor for Historynet.com. Specialising in World War I aviation, he has written nineteen titles for Osprey, including the popular Aircraft of the Aces 66: Balloon-Busting Aces of World War I, as well as Grim Reapers: French Escadrille 94 in World War I and Aerial Foreign Legion: Volunteer Foreign Airmen in French Escadrille Service.

 

“Let the Zeppelins Come, I Don’t Care”
David Marks 
18th May 2023
Germany’s aerial bombing campaign against Britain was an unprecedented development in warfare. The civilian population found itself on the front line for the first time and the public’s anger, frustration and demands for retaliation was tempered by a remarkable resilience. This was expressed with humour, through the medium of the humble picture postcard, and a demand for souvenirs.

 

The Early Flying Pioneers at Lark Hill
Tim Brown 
8.00pm 13th June 2023
Tim Brown will be talking about the story behind his fascinating book, ‘Flying with the Larks’, the story of Britain’s first military aviation base at Lark Hill, Wiltshire, and its influence on First World War aviation.
We will follow in the footsteps of the first aviators to arrive at Lark Hill, and their activities from 1910. Led initially by the British & Colonial Aeroplane Co. Ltd., This pointed towards the formation of the Air Battalion and subsequently the creation of the Royal Flying Corps in 1912.

 

Work with the MOD brought Tim to Salisbury Plain in 2008, where he became one of the first members of ‘Wings Over Stonehenge’. This group of NT volunteers investigated early flying within the WHS site. Copious notes to accompany his guided tours led to an introduction to a publisher and his book ‘Flying with the Larks.’ 
Tim has delivered many talks on the subject to historical groups, libraries, museums, BBC Radio Wiltshire and the Penzance Literature Festival. 

 

Hawker: the story behind the film
Daniel Arbon
8.00pm 6th September 2023 

 Maj Lanoe Hawker VC DSO is the subject of a new short film due for release later this year. Hawker tells the story of the action of 25th July 1915 when Capt Hawker became the first British pilot to successfully shoot down an enemy aircraft by mounting a Lewis Gun to the side of his Bristol Scout. His victories on that day, on top of his sustained bravery since the outset of the war, resulted in the awarding of the Victoria Cross. It was only the third VC given to an Airman and the first for Air to Air combat with another Aeroplane.  In this talk, film director Daniel Arbon will share the story of the making of the film and will show some cuts of the action. 

 

Daniel Arbon has always been interested in aviation, and initially trained in aerospace manufacturing, serving a Modern Apprenticeship with Rolls Royce (In a factory built to manufacture “Merlin” engines during WW2). He went on to RMA Sandhurst as Officer Cadet in the British Army in 2005 before being medically discharged. He began his career in the arts as an actor, graduating from Mountview Academy of Theatre Arts in 2011.  He made his first film, “Ironheart”, in 2016 and formed  Middle Realm Productions, producing short dramas and corporate films.  

 

In the slipstream of Daedalus-Airpower in Gallipoli
Graham Mottram 
Date TBC, October 2023
Air power at Gallipoli. Dozens of books have been written about the fiasco of the landings at Gallipoli. Very little has been written about the hundreds of aircraft committed by the RNAS to supporting the campaign. This talk attempts to redress that imbalance.
 

Graham Mottram was born in Sheffield. He read Natural Sciences at Selwyn College, Cambridge, as a University Scholar of the Special Steels Division of British Steel, and then joined the stainless steel section in Pontypool, South Wales. His interest in aviation began when reading his elder brother's left over Biggles books, and developed into a specific interest in World War 1 during his time at Cambridge. A long time member of Cross and Cockade International, he edited that society's journal "Hangar Notes" column for many years. After twelve years in steel he left to become Curator of the Fleet Air Arm Museum at Yeovilton in 1983. He was one of the team which built the “Carrier” exhibition in the early 1990s and became the Museum's Director in 1995. He won £3.7M from the Heritage Lottery Fund in 1997 to build Cobham Hall, FAAM’s Reserve Store, which came into use in 2000.  As part of the formation of the National Museum of the Royal Navy, he became Director of Collections and Research in 2013, finally retiring at the end of March 2015. In “retirement” he is Chair of the Society of Friends of the FAA Museum, and of Ilchester Town Trust, and a trustee of Cross & Cockade International. In 2018 he published “The Men Who Marched Away”, a record of the 16 men of Ilchester who died in World War 1.

 

Pre-War Ballooning 
Martin Main 
8.00pm 15th November 2023  
Details TBC 

 

Breaking Racial Barriers in the RFC
Jon Guttman 
Date TBC November 2023 

 Among the many social changes that emerged amid World War I was the first entry of non-Europeans into the seemingly elite realm of military aviation. Although they faced prejudice, by 1918 pilots of African descent turned up in the Italian air corps, the Turkish navy, Britain’s Royal Flying Corps and the French air service.

Jon Guttman, a resident of Leesburg, Virginia, is currently the senior editor for Historynet.com. Specialising in World War I aviation, he has written nineteen titles for Osprey, including the popular Aircraft of the Aces 66: Balloon-Busting Aces of World War I, as well as Grim Reapers: French Escadrille 94 in World War I and Aerial Foreign Legion: Volunteer Foreign Airmen in French Escadrille Service.

Article posted: 24/01/2023

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