In June 1910 the first all-British flying meeting took place at Dunstall Park, only 4 years after the first ever flight in Europe. The newspapers reported that by the beginning of the month 6 hangars had been erected, and Bleriot, Humber and Star machines were already there. A Mr. Hartill of Cleveland Street, Wolverhampton  constructed a machine especially for the event. Unfortunately there was almost no flying because of high winds, heavy rain, and a dispute with some pilots over payment of their hotel expenses.

The meeting began on 27th June and lasted for 5 days, ending on 2nd July. It was held under the auspices of the Midland Aero Club, which had been formed the previous year. Its headquarters were at the Grand Hotel in Birmingham and the club president was the Earl of Dartmouth. The official programme listed a varied selection of events. Prizes were awarded for the flight of the longest duration, cross-country flying, passenger carrying, figure flying, bomb throwing etc.

Preparations for the event including the erection of the aeroplane sheds.

The first flight was made by Captain Dawes, on leave from the army to learn how to fly. He decided to fly around the trees at the end of the park, but could not turn in time and sailed over the fence to end up in a field beyond. Thanks to the atrocious conditions there were a number of spectacular crashes. James Radley’s Bleriot crashed in a gale and Alec Ogilvie’s Short-Wright aircraft fell to the ground from a height of 60ft. Radley and Gibbs also crashed but luckily there were no casualties.

Prizes were distributed on the last day. Graham White made the first circuit flight and won the duration prize by keeping his aircraft in the air for 15 minutes and 38 seconds. Mr. Boyle won the monoplane class by flying for nearly 8 minutes. Mr. Grace won the prize for the highest flight, reaching nearly 600 feet. Mr. G. B. Cockburn won the prize for the shortest take-off in his Farman biplane over a distance of 100ft. 5 inches.

Mr. Cecil Grace had the most spectacular performance at the meeting, quickly rising to 500 or 600 feet in his Short biplane. He flew in widening circles, reaching Tettenhall and Bushbury before descending to 150 feet when he turned off the engine, and glided to the centre of the park, making a perfect landing.

He had been in the air for 27 minutes, 45 seconds, and was seen by gathering crowds at Tettenhall, Bushbury, Bilston, Willenhall, and Sedgley. During the flight, Mr. Claude Grahame White started his aircraft and flew to between 200 and 300 feet, but his engine was not working properly, so he landed after fifteen minutes.

On the same day, Mr. Rawlinson flew for seven minutes, and Mr. C. S. Rolls, and Mr. J. Radley, each completed one circuit of the course.

Thursday started wet and windy, but conditions soon improved, and at a quarter to eight Mr. J.  Radley brought out his monoplane, quickly followed by Alan Boyle. The most successful local man was Mr. Barnes, who kept his machine in the air for 77 seconds.

Mr. Claude Grahame Wright on his Henry Farman aircraft, flying over Mr. Ogilvie's Wright machine, as it was towed to the starting point.

A postcard especially produced for the event.

A Wright biplane won the speed contest, piloted by Mr. C. S. Rolls, one of the founders of Rolls Royce.

Unfortunately he was killed less than two weeks later during a similar contest at Bournemouth, which highlights the danger involved in such events. Granville Bradshaw piloted the locally built Star monoplane, which unfortunately failed to fly.

Mr. Rawlinson, in flight on his Henry Farman aircraft.

Grahame White in his Farman biplane. Courtesy of David Clare.

Cecil Grace in his monoplane. Courtesy of David Clare.

Some of the competitors. Left to right: Lieut. D. L. Gibbs, Grahame Gilmore, Grahame White, Astley, Spottiswoode, J. Radley, C. Lane, and the Hon. Alan Boyle. Courtesy of David Clare.

The Star monoplane.

Another view of the Star monoplane.

A close-up view of the Star monoplane.

Other pilots included:

Mr. Davies
Mr. A.V. Roe
Mr. Gilmour
Mr. Mander
Mr. Lane
Mr. Cody
Mr. Holder
Mr. Frances
Mr. McArdle
Mr. Maxfield

Music was provided by the South Staffordshire Regiment and the Wolverhampton Military Band. The event proved to be very popular and aviation meetings were held at Dunstall Park for several years.

The locally built Star monoplane returned in 1911 with Joe Lisle, son of the company’s owner, Edward Lisle, at the controls. This time the aircraft successfully flew, but Edward was so alarmed at the sight, that he banned his son from flying again.

Some of the aviators who took part in 1910.

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