Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Youngest Person Ever to Fly?

This is a fuzzy old picture of Gravesend airport, or Gravesend London East, as it used to be more grandly known when it first opened in the 1930's.

The airport was the starting point for many air speed record attempts by famous pioneer aviators such as Amy Johnson but I will write more about that in a future post.

Whilst looking through some old newspaper cuttings I came across an amusing article in the Evening News of 5th February 1936.

It would seem that the youngest person ever to fly, may have flown from Gravesend....

At the time the article was written, the airport's Chief Engineer was Mr H C Brown. According to the report his wife had just given birth to a baby boy called Kenneth.

On the Sunday morning, Mr Brown telephoned his close friend Mr Messenger, a pilot at the airport, to pass on the happy news and to invite him to become Godfather to little Kenneth.

Mr Messenger rushed over immediately to see his Godson and congratulate his friends.

To mark the auspicious occasion a fitting celebration was needed.

Without further ado Mr Brown quickly plucked his one day old son from his cot, wrapped him in furs and blankets, placed him in the car and they all set off to the airport.

On arrival at the airport, Mr Brown strapped himself into the open cockpit of Mr Messenger's biplane his baby son held tightly in his arms. Mr Messenger hopped into the pilot's seat and within a few minutes the three of them were airborne.

Mr Messenger flew with great care at up to 2000' feet over the Thames Estuary before landing safely back at Gravesend some fifteen minutes later.

Needless to say, the whole escapade took place without the knowledge of poor old Mrs Brown!

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  1. I love good stories, especially those that happened just before the looming tragedy of war.

    But I have a younger passenger. My husband was flying from London to Melbourne when an Italian passenger went into active labour somewhere over India. Joe seemed to be the only doctor on board so he looked after her during labour and the delivery, and then told the pilot that they had another passenger whose name was not on the original flight list. The mother called the baby Giuseppi, to thank my husband Josef :)

    The plane made an unscheduled stop in Darwin where an ambulance came in and picked up a smiling, waving new mum. The other passengers were cheering and clapping :)

  2. Hi Hels -that's a great story and something to tell the grandchildren.


  3. Oh my, if my husband had done something so reckless with my tiny little baby, I would have given him a black eye! Still, it is a lovely story!!

    I like Hels's story too!