The British Empire and its effect on Plymouth

Cobham's Flying Circus at Plymouth Roborough Aerodrome

Alan Cobham had a long association with Plymouth. He was an early aviation pioneer who did much in the 1920s and 1930s to popularise aviation. His 1923 flight from the polo field in Roborough to Manchester was all part of a proof of concept to encourage wider use of aeroplanes to promote the aviation industry as a whole. He won many notable aviation trophies such as the King’s Cup air race in 1924 and the Britannia Trophy in 1923, 1925 and 1926. In 1925 he flew from London to Cape Town and back and in 1926 flew from Britain to Australia to be met by huge crowds. In 1927/8 he flew on a 23,000 mile journey around Africa landing only in British colonies to show how aviation could link the Empire. From this particular journey he returned to Plymouth Sound in his Short Singapore flying boat (which were also based at RAF Mountbatten) (see pictures below). In the 1930s he returned to Plymouth frequently as part of his Cobham's Flying Circus barn storming displays. Although his dalliances in the airline business faltered, he found a profitable niche in the new concept of air to air refuelling.

Empire in Your Backyard: Plymouth Article

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by Stephen Luscombe