First of the Flaming Flyers
- RAF Flying Review,
1958 (digitally enhanced)
Mr F W Thomas launches his rocket propelled model aeroplane at the Crystal Palace,
London, in 1907.
A newspaper report of the time described him as “a tall
man with a bushy walrus moustache, resplendent in top hat, frock coat and
Mr Thomas' model was described as “a weird contraption [
unlike an eccentric box kite”. As Dr Roger Simmonds, the source of this little-known
footnote (or headnote?) to Jetex history, notes, "However, the model has some notable
modern features, with plenty of wing area and adequate down thrust to cure
excessive looping. Alas, the flight pattern is also all too familiar." As the newspaper
Thomas launched the model
into the air. With an impressive roar from its twin rockets it sped swiftly
through the air, climbing steadily as it flew, but then disaster struck.
It suddenly began to show ominous signs of instability, and a moment later
it had dived into the ground so violently that it became an utter write-off.
Dr Simmonds adds: "The need for expert and careful
trimming is obvious. Readers might like to know that the premier
award winner at this particular model aircraft meet was A V Roe, flying an
elastic-powered canard biplane."