Flying Boat completes historic journey over Britain in memory of Kingston pilot Harry Hawker (From Surrey Comet)
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Flying Boat completes historic journey over Britain in memory of Kingston pilot Harry Hawker
The Catalina G-PBYA flies over St Paul's church in Hook, the final resting place of Harry Hawker. Picture by Carol Hartfree @ Bright Images Photography
Onlookers stare at the skies as Britain’s oldest airworthy flying boat passes over the grave of the man who first made the journey 100 years ago.
To mark the centenary of the 1913 Circuit of Britain Race – the first major British competition involving seaplanes – a Catalina G-PBYA recreated the trip by flying 1,500 miles along Britain’s coastline.
The commemorative circuit included fly pasts over Kingston and Elmbridge – in recognition of famed pilot and engineer Harry Hawker, from Kingston’s Sopwith Aviation Company.
Hawker, accompanied by mechanic Harry Kauper, was the only pilot to take part in the race, following the withdrawals of two other competitors, and the death of another. The pair, both Australian, flew more than 1,000 miles before crashing north of Dublin – although Hawker was still awarded £1,000 by sponsors the Daily Mail.
But 100 years on, fellow antipodean Jeff Boyling completed the entire route in five days, landing back at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford on Sunday, where the Catalina is based.
He twice flew over the former Sopwith factory in Kingston, the old Brooklands site in Elmbridge – where Hawker tested World War One planes – and St Paul’s Church in Hook, where he is buried. Mr Boyling said: “It was a great achievement and the crew are very pleased.
“Harry [Hawker] didn’t complete the challenge, but we’ve done it in a very historic aircraft, and raised money for the Royal Air Force Benevolent Fund and the Imperial War Museum Duxford.
“It was great to fly over Kingston and Brooklands, and Harry’s grave in Hook.
“There were some fantastic sights along the way.”
This picture of the seaplane flying over Hawker’s grave in St Paul’s in Hook was captured by New Malden photographer Carol Hartfree, owner of Bright Images Photography.
Mrs Hartfree said: “I knew about Harry Hawker since I was a tiny girl, and I knew exactly the shot I wanted.
“I’m very happy to have got it.”
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