FLIGHT DELAY FOR HISTORIC TAKE-OFF
PLANS for an epic seaplane flight recreating one of the most significant sagas in aviation history have been temporarily halted.
Due to take off from Windermere next Thursday (September 17), the inaugural flight of a replica of revolutionary Waterbird has unfortunately had to be suspended until crucial final testing has been completed.
The delay is a blow to the Lakes Flying Company (LFC) members who have been working for years to bring a £160,000 dream to recreate Britain’s first ever hydro-aeroplane to fruition.
LFC’s Ian Gee said the team had come within a whisker of achieving next week’s scheduled launch but had ‘simply run out of time to complete all the necessary final hoops’.
He explained: “Although we are almost there, we have decided, because weather will inevitably deteriorate, to wait until spring for the much anticipated lake take-off. It will be 105-years after the original Waterbird made her maiden flight from Windermere.
“From the outset, we have been under no illusion about the enormity of the task in hand.
“Incorporating a 1911 design with bamboo framework, into a flying machine fit to meet stringent modern regulations has presented huge challenges and a series of firsts.
“To have got this far is remarkable and while there is great disappointment we will not be flying from Windermere next week, it is now only a matter of time.
“We live in a very different era to that of aviation pioneers, like Kendal’s Captain Edward Wakefield, who set out to confound critics and achieve the unattainable feat of flying from water with his Waterbird brainchild.
“We have worked closely with the Light Aircraft Association, who make recommendations to the Civil Aviation Authority for permits to test and fly. The replica is, as predicted, the ideal weight and there are no issues with the bamboo frame.
“Similarly, there are no concerns whatsoever about safety or mechanical issues. Only tests on the section which connects the float to the aeroplane remain.”
Mr Gee said Tuesday’s milestone engine run to check temperature, revs per minute, fuel and oil flow, oil pressure and cooling at different speeds had been very successful.
He added: “Patience has always had to be a virtue and must continue for this final lap. The fact we are almost there is testimony to the skill, passion and professionalism of all involved.”
The replica will remain in Lincoln where it has been built, but LFC hopes to establish an Edward Wakefield Memorial Seaplane Centre and give her a permanent home in the Lake District.
The Lake District National Park Authority (LDNPA), had waived its 10 nautical mile an hour speed restriction on the lake to allow the launch.
Only a few parts survived the original’s destruction, just four months after she first took-off on a cold November day. A storm caused the hangar to collapse, leaving her beyond repair.
It made national headlines, but with the support of Winston Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, a public inquiry came out in Wakefield’s favour.
His humble wooden and canvas flying machine made him one of the most important aviation pioneers in history, paving the way for the Royal Naval Air Service.