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Tuesday was the 90th anniversary of the first daily scheduled airline service. By today’s standards it was a pretty modest affair. The aircraft seated a grand total of two alongside packets of mail. But it was a start. The service ran between Hounslow Heath (near today’s London Heathrow Airport) and Le Bourget, just outside Paris. It was operated by the Aircraft Transport & Travel company run by George Holt-Thomas, and 25 August 1919 saw its inaugural flight. Those first services […]

I had a great day yesterday at the Science Museum Wroughton, recording a series of video interviews promoting the Festival of Innovation (12 – 13 September). I was there to talk about twenty transport icons that shaped the modern world. One was a Moulton bicycle, the first significant design change to the bike since J. K. Starley’s ‘Rover’ safety bicycle hit the scene in the 1880s. The Moulton is a small-wheel, compact cycle with full suspension that is easy to […]

Back in January, a Japan Airlines Boeing 747 airliner successfully tested a camelina-based biofuel, prompting hopes that a non-petroleum-based jet fuel might one day power the world’s airline fleets (and maybe cars and trucks too). At the Science Museum we’ve been tracking jet engine technology since it was first developed, back before the Second World War. Of particular note in our displays is the Gloster-Whittle E.28/39, Britain’s first successful jet aircraft: That’s in the Flight gallery, and you can find […]

It’s a busy time for transport anniversaries. I’ve already mentioned the centenary of Bleriot’s flight across the Channel and the ninetieth anniversary of Alcock & Brown’s crossing of the Atlantic. Today, I’ll talk about one more pioneering flight across water. The craft was called ‘SR-N1’ (Saunders Roe Number 1), and it too flew across the Channel, fifty years to the day since Bleriot first flew over. But this flight, in 1959, was very close to the water. You guessed it: […]

Last time I was recalling Louis Blériot’s historic crossing of the Channel a century ago. That got me thinking about other memorable sea crossings. Ninety years ago, John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown were the first people to cross the Atlantic by air, non-stop. Their Vickers ‘Vimy’ craft, pictured here, is on show in our Flight gallery: The first solo crossing was by Charles Lindbergh eight years later. Then there was a flight of the Friendship in June 1928 which […]

Flying over to mainland Europe this summer on holiday? Last Saturday (25 July 2009) was the centenary of Louis Blériot’s historic flight across the Channel – the first ever successful flight across a major body of water in a heavier-than-air craft. It took a little over half-an-hour, and it won the French aviator the Daily Mail’s coveted prize of £1000 (about £60,000 in today’s money) for doing so, beating rivals Charles de Lambert and Hubert Latham. The Mail reported the […]