> Eastbourne Monoplane

1913 Eastbourne Monoplane replica Ė A VAC project for young people.

In September 2019, while in conversation with the team from Brooklands who are responsible for archive, artefacts and stores, it transpired that the replica of a 1913 Eastbourne Monoplane was surplus to requirements. A new home for the full scale fuselage was required and I was asked if I could make use of it in some way. The response to this was an immediate affirmative as it had long been an ambition to have a restoration / build for the VAC which could be used to teach young people basic engineering skills and which could be used as a training tool for the restoration and maintenance of vintage aircraft. This seemed like a fantastic opportunity and the problems of where and how would be shelved for the time being.

The original Eastbourne Monoplane, of which only one was built, was designed and built by Bernard Fowler and Emil L Gassier for the Eastbourne Aviation Company Ltd and first flew on 22nd February 1913. It was powered by a 35hp three cylinder Anzani radial engine. The single seat tractor monoplane was built for exhibition flying but, with the outbreak of war in 1914, it was relegated to the back of the hangar while aircraft more suitable for observation over the trenches and eventually for combat flying were designed and built. Fortunately for us the plans and details of the original aircraft remain and were published in Flight magazine as the originality of the single winged machine were of great interest at the time.

In 2009 Steve Green and Ken Gillett set about building a full scale replica to be ready to celebrate the centenary in 2013. The model was built to work out the fuselage dimensions and seating position and to practice splicing and steam bending of the longerons. However, once the fuselage was constructed other projects took over so the replica was never completed. I had planned to move the monoplane from the stores to Turweston where I hoped I could find a group who would like to take this on as a project for young people. However, during an LAA Strut meeting where I outlined the plan, a positive response came from Pete White, VAC member, director of Bodmin Airfield and Cornwall Strut Chairman. Pete linked us up with Cornwall Aviation Heritage Trust who were looking for a project to engage the local schools and groups at the museum.

In December a box trailer arrived, kindly provided by Graham Saw, and with Tom Wenham we loaded the fuselage on to the trailer and , with the help of Martin Pengelly and Grahamís brother Richard, she was delivered to Cornwall Aviation Heritage Centre at Newquay Airport. Such is the enthusiasm for the project in Cornwall that the monoplane has been given her own Ďbayí in the work area where she will be on full view to the public as work proceeds. Pete White is Project Manager in Cornwall and we will be keeping in close contact with everyone involved and reporting back on the VACís Webpage, in the VACís magazine and on social media. We will also be keeping in touch with the team at Brooklands. The project is to be overseen by the VAC and we look forward to hearing how the young people proceed with learning new skills and, hopefully, developing a love for vintage aircraft. ANNE HUGHES

Photos courtesy of Anne Hughes, Graham Saw, Ian Raymer, Ian Watkins.

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