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Winston Churchill’s Pre-World War I Sea Plane to Take Off Again

Waterbird flies again: Churchill’s pre-World War I sea plane to take off in Lake District National Park plan to lift 10mph marine speed limit.

Editors Note: Winston Churchill, during his sixty years in Parliament, was ever the champion of new technologies and the area of aviation is no exception. Included in his intimate circle of advisers was Professor Lindemann (later Lord Cherwell), on whom he grew to rely for opinions of all matters of science and technology. As this article illustrates, Churchill was constantly looking to use new technologies in his roles in government. 


Winston Churchill took part in Waterbird’s maiden flightTHE DAILY MAIL, 27 May 2012—Winston Churchill’s first pre-war seaplane is set to take to the skies for the first time in over 100 years.

Championed by Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, Waterbird made its maiden flight in November 1911, making it Britain’s first seaplane.

The late Prime Minister even joined creator Edward Wakefield behind the controls when the pioneering craft first took flight.

A century on, a replica of the Waterbird is being built and campaigners want to make 12 tourist flights a year on Lake Windermere in the Lake District.

They just need to convince the government to lift a 10mph limit on the lake.

The limit was imposed in 2005 after a pressure group campaigned to restore the tranquility of England’s largest lake.

Waterbird needs a waiver because it has to skim the surface of the water before becoming airborne at 30mph.

The Lake District National Park Authority is backing the proposal, along with the Lakes Flying Company, the charity behind the project.

And they plan to submit a request to the Department of Environment, Food and Rural Affairs in the next two weeks.

Bob Cartwright, spokesman for the National Park, is confident DEFRA will grant the waiver.

He told the Sunday Times: ‘We believe this could become a significant tourist attraction.’

The project also has the backing Sir Humphrey Wakefield, the great nephew of Waterbird’s creator Edward Wakefield.

Sir Humphrey, a trustee of the Lakes Flying Company, says, ‘This plane provides us with an astounding link to the pioneering days of aviation. It would be very mean-spirited if they didn’t waive the rules.’

The replica could be ready for flight in just eight months, according to Gerry Cooper, who is building it at Wickenby airfield in Lincolnshire.
Mr Cooper said: ‘It looks very flimsy – almost like a big kite, but it can climb to an altitude of 7,000ft.

The £160,000 cost was raised in part by a special event to mark the centenary of the maiden flight last November.

Funds are also being raised towards the creation of an Edward Wakefield Memorial Edwardian Seaplane Centre at Windermere which would house the replica Waterbird and would be the only operational seaplane centre in the world flying pre-1914 aircraft.

Read the entire article at The Daily Mail

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