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Aces of Aviation

De Havilland DH 61 Giant Moth of Sir Alan Cobham

De Havilland DH 61 Giant Moth of Sir Alan Cobham

De Havilland DH 61 Giant Moth, piloted by Sir Alan Cobham, in Stag Lane, Hertfordshire, in May 1929.

Wingspan: 15.84 meters.

Length: 11.89 meters.

Height: 3.99 meters.

Engine[s]: Armstrong Siddeley Jaguar VIC of 500 horsepower.

Maximum speed: 212 kilometers/hour.

Service ceiling: 5485 meters.

Range: 724 kilometers.

Capacity: 10 passengers.

Sir Alan Cobham, one of the true pioneers of commercial aviation during the 1920s, probably did more than anybody else to promote the pleasures of flying among the people of England. Born the 6th May 1894, he served during three years in Artillery in France during the First World War, before being transferred to the Royal Flying Corps and later to the Royal Air Force. Immediately after the armistice he bought a surplus training aircraft from the war, model Avro 504K, on which he organized excursions for the public transporting over 5000 persons during the first year. Two years later he flew with the Havilland Hire Service, transporting passengers and cargo with destination to any part of Europe.

During the most successful years Cobham was part of countless ventures. He flew in an aerial postal service between Spain and North Africa and his services were rented for tours across Africa and the Middle East. He also performed a flight across the English Chaneel on a De Havilland DH 53 Humming Bird ultralight aircraft, and in 1924 he won the King's Cup Air Race. Besides he took Sir Sefton Brancker to India to examine the possibility of creating commercial airlines to that subcontinent and to effectuate an initial study of an air route to Cape Town.

It was on the summer of 1926 when Cobham performed an historical flight to Australia on a De Havilland DH 50 floatplane, returning the 1st October, having a tumultuous welcome and receiving then the title of Sir. Finally, in 1927, he circumnavigated the African continent on a Short Singapore multi-engined biplane. During the 1930s he remained in the memory of the public thanks to his famous show of the National Aviation Day, with which he toured villages and cities of England organizing excursions for many people.

In 1929 he presented himself to the municipal authorities to convince them about the importance of aerodromes for commercial and sportive aviation. With this purpose he flew a De Havilland DH 61 Giant Moth fitted with ten seats and baptized as "Youth of Britain", in Stag Lane, Hertfordshire, counting on the presence of Geoffrey de Havilland. At least 30 municipal aerodromes were built thanks to the effort of Sir Alan Cobham, and many of the future pilots and crew members of the Royal Air Force received their baptism of air thanks to the enterprise of this grand pioneer.