The Lake District and particularly Windermere has a proud aviation heritage which stretched through some thirty-six years until the departure of the last Windermere-built Shorts Sunderland flying-boat in 1945. Windermere’s story of aviation started when two friends, Edward Wakefield of Kendal, a lawyer, land-owner and three-times mayor of Kendal and Oscar Gnosspelius, a talented Lancashire-born engineer, attended an air-show at Blackpool in 1909. Having witnessed that flying is potentially hazardous, they pondered the possibility of flying from water, which would provide a softer landing in the event of mishap! Such an idea was ridiculed by the experts at Blackpool but Wakefield and Gnosspelius were undeterred and returned home to the Lake District to put their ideas into practice by building their own aircraft on the shores of Windermere. Both achieved success, with Wakefield’s “Waterbird” taking the honours on 25 November 1911, the first successful flight from water within the British Empire.
The Lakes Flying Company has been re-formed as a charity and has commissioned an exact replica of the original 1911 Waterbird “Hydro-aeroplane” (seaplane). The replica aircraft, will shortly fly in Lincolnsire as a land-plane and, following the granting on a temporary exemption to exceed the lake’s 10 knot speed limit, she will fly from Windermere in September, a hundred and four years after the original Waterbird made British history.
The date scheduled for the replica aircraft’s flight is Thursday evening, 17th September.