First UK Air Display
Great Britain was somewhat slow in the race to conquer the skies: aviation pioneer Claude Grahame White had to go to France in 1909 to learn how to fly regardless of the earlier patriotic claim by one London newspaper that though no Briton had yet flown, the country led the way in aviation theory. White was closely linked with what was then the focus of the embryonic British aviation industry, Everett Edgecumbe and Company starting work on a machine they dubbed “The Grasshopper” there in 1908 – a machine aptly named given its continual failure to fly; and his French rival Louis Pelham taking off from Hendon to win the £10,000 prize offered by The Daily Mail for the first flight to Manchester from London.
It was at Hendon, where Grahame White purchased the 207 acre Colindale Aerodrome, that The London Flying Club was established in 1910. So it was from Hendon that those magnificent men in their flying machines – mainly Blériots and Farmans – gave the first display to the British public of their capabilities in May 1910 – thus naturally it was Hendon that produced the first loop-the-loop in Britain. Soon crowds numbering tens of thousands gathered regularly to watch the aerobatics.
A decade after the first ‘air display’ Hendon staged the first air show in Britain, the forerunner of the modern Farnborough Air Show .
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