Bristol Boxkite

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---Bristol Boxkite 1910
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Many thanks to John Worsley for the postcards on this page.

On 12 November 1910 the British & Colonial Aeroplane Company (later known as the Bristol Aeroplane Company) arranged for two well-known French pilots, Maurice Tétard and Henri Jullerot, to give a public demonstration of the new Bristol 'Boxkite' on Durdham Down in Bristol. A tent hanger was erected on the Downs and Tétard flew Stanley White, one of the company directors, as passenger. The machines used were Nos.12A and 14 in the production run (there being no No.13 for superstitious reasons). A replica of No. 12A now flies at the Shuttleworth Collection.

Boxkite over Clifton Suspension Bridge

Below, Tétard in flight and (far right) Jullerot in conversation with Stanley White:

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Reprort from the The Bristol Times and Mirror, 14 November 1910:


   The exhibitions of flying which took place over Durdham Down on Saturday excited the keenest interest among all classes of citizens. The temporary hangar which has been erected near the Sea Walls has already become a centre of tremendous attraction for thousands upon thousands of people, for in that single canvas structure are housed two of those fine aeroplanes which are putting Bristol in the van of progress as regards the latest and most fascinating mode of locomotion. In the old days the highest compliment the nautical world could bestow upon a vessel was to say she was "shipshape and Bristol fashion." History repeats itself, and the old city is making such a big bid for distinction as a centre where "clippers of the clouds" are built, not only with phenomenal rapidity, but possessing extraordinary merits, that the time may come when the expert British flying man, mindful both of the perils of the air and of the fat prizes to be won, will think twice before investing in a machine that is not "Bristol fashion."
   On Saturday the Bristol biplane (the 14th manufactured by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company) was taken out for a morning flight. At 8.40, when the machine was wheeled from the hangar, a heavy fog obscured the landscape, but on the plateau where the trials were to take place it was sufficiently clear to allow of an ascent being made.
   M. Jullerot, acting as pilot, took Mr Stanley White for a ten minutes' trip. As on the previous day, the machine was working perfectly. The whirring of the propeller, a short, swift run, and the aeroplane rose gracefully into the air, speeding forward at a height of about 50 feet.
   A course was taken round the border of the plateau, in the course of which the maximum height reached was about 100 feet.
   Afterwards, the trial having proved entirely satisfactory, the machine was run back to the hangar. The wind was blowing at about 15 miles an hour, but as the morning wore on, and the sun came through the fog, it freshened up considerably, delaying a second journey.
   A considerable crowd was present from an early hour, and horsemen, motorists, and cyclists flocked in numbers to the scene of the operations. Among the earliest arrivals was Sir George White, Bart., chairman of the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company.


   During the afternoon many thousands of people assembled upon the Downs in the hope of seeing a flight, and though the weather conditions were far from favourable, those who arrived before three were not disappointed. Durdham Down presented a remarkable sight. Thousands of spectators flocked round the hangar, and it was naturally near that spot that the biggest crown had gathered; but thousands were content to remain at a distance; and, indeed, they secured the best view of the exhibition. Many had come in motor-cars, dozens of which lined the roadway that runs parallel to Sneyd Park, and there were many carriages and countless cyclists. Between the Sea Walls and the Stoke Road, the Downs were almost black with people.
   At 2.45 the machine was brought out from the hangar, and the excitement then grew intense. It was three o' clock exactly when Sir George White gave orders, on the arrival of the Sheriff and Mrs Riseley, for a flight. Owing to the vastness of the crowd, and the way they had surrounded the machine, it appeared as if the men would experience difficulty in getting a start. Supt. Hazell, with a strong body of police, several of whom were mounted, soon cleared a protion of the plateau, however, and amidst ringing cheers, M. Tetard, the famous French aviator, took his seat upon the biplane. He ran it over the grass towards the Stoke Road for a considerable distance, and them turning, rose swiftly into the air. He steered for the Sea Walls, which he skirted, and then tooka wide sweep round the Downs in the direction of the Reservoir. After wheeling back towards the hangar, he started on another circle of a very wide radius, and eventually came back to earth, lightly as a bird, on a space kept clear in admirable style by Supt. Hazell and his men.


   It was evident to the spectators that during a large part of the flight the aeroplane was badly buffetted by the wind, and it spoke volumes both for the skill of M. Tetard and the quality of the biplane that he was able to give so fine an exhibition under such adverse weather conditions. M. Tetard has distinguished himself at the Continental meetings, and at Rheims he made one flight lasting nearly four hours.
   There was a further outburst of cheering when M. Tetard alighted from the machine, and he was cordially shaken by the hand by 

Sir George White and other members of the Aeroplane Company and the Aero Club.
   The crowd waited in the hope of seeing another flight, but the weather did not improve, and soon after four it was decided that it was inadvisable to attempt any more flying that day.


   After his fine flight, M. Tetard was interviewed by a "Times and Mirror" reporter. He does not speak English, but in voluble French, accompanied by many gestures, he expressed his delight at the behaviour of the Bristol biplane.
   It was, he said, the first time he had been up in a machine of that make, and it was certainly the best he had ever flown in. The flight was exceptionally difficult because of the tricky wind prevailing.
   On the ground the wind was not particularly heavy, though gusty, but in the upper air he struck many whirlwinds coming from the Avon Gorge. The effect by the gully was to suck him downwards, and this prevented him from attaining any great elevation.
   To plane upwards it is necessary to fly against the wind, but going towards the Gully he met with a counter-current that prevented the machine rising, and directly he turned he had the wind behind him, the effect of this being to depress the line of flight. Indeed on the Blackley Hill side of the Downs he wassometimes within eight feet of some lofty elms. On turning again by the Red Lamp he met the wind broadside on, and it was this which caused the biplane to rock as it did. In no other machine, he said, would he have accomplished what he did.


   M. Jullerot, referring to M. Tetard's flight, said, "It is one of the most wonderful flights I have ever seen. It was a most severe test, though the general public could not realise it. But up above, the currents of air are very tricky, as one could see from the way in which the machine rocked every now and then. He handled it splendidly, however, and the aeroplane could not have worked better. Really he ought not to have gone up in the conditions prevailing, but he was determined the public should not be disappointed. The elevation was from 150 to 200 feet, for the greater part of the journey, but M. Tetard would have risen higher had not he had to work in a circumscribed area. It was necessary to plane up against the wind, but he had to turn before reaching any great height, and directly he flew with the wind the tendancy was to drop down again."
    M. Tetard has figured with M. Jullerot at all the big aviation meetings, and at Blackpool was third with the amount of prize money he drew. His record flight was one of three hours and three-quarters. Previously he has used the Henry Farman and Sommer machines. At Blackpool he went twice around the Tower, and he carried quite a lot of passengers, as did Mr Grahame-White, one ticket in every 500 issued to the public for admission entitling the bearer to a ride in an aeroplane, and many took advantage of the privilege. M. Tetard has also won notariety by a flight across the Seine at its mouth - a great performance.


   Mr Leslie Macdonald, the young aviator who on the Friday went for the trial flight on the Downs, is, as we have mentioned before, a Bristolian born and bred, and an old Cathedralian.
   He is now only 20 years of age, but he has already attained skill in aviation, and we understand is likely to go abroad shortly with one or two of the company's aeroplanes. Mr Macdonald, on leaving the Bristol Cathedral School,received his training in engineering in the workshops of the Bristol Tramway Company, and passed thence to the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company's works, where he learned all about the construction of the machines. Eventually, he took lessons in the company's flying school in practical aviation, and he has since made good flights.
   It was expected he would take part in Saturday's exhibition on the Downs,but it transpired that he had gone to Brooklands to secure his English (Royal Aero Club of Great Britain and Ireland) pilot's certificate, which will be a passport to aviation meetings the world over. Mr Macdonald's contemporaries in the school and many friendswill learn with interest of his achievements in aeronautics.


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