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Pilots to follow in the wake of Liverpool's flying pioneer.

Byline: William Leece

FIVE light aircraft will take off from Liverpool John Lennon Airport this morning to recreate the first aeroplane flight from Liverpool to Manchester exactly 100 years ago.

Aviator Henry Melly, the first man in Liverpool to own an aircraft, took off from the sands at Waterloo on July 7, 1911 to fly to meet friends at Trafford Park Golf Course.

Propelled by a westerly tail-wind, he made the journey in 45 minutes with his passenger, to enjoy a convivial lunch in the club house.

The return journey, which was also the first time an aircraft had taken off in Manchester, took over an hour and included a detour over Mossley Hill where the Melly family house stood.

Today's flight will see five light aircraft leaving Liverpool Airport in formation and then flying over Henry Melly's original Waterloo base where they will be greeted by flag-waving children from the Ursuline Primary School at Blundellsands.

They will be carrying with them a souvenir from Henry Melly's flying days, a wooden propeller originally fitted to one of his French-built Bleriot aircraft.

"It could even be the propeller from the same aircraft which made the flight from Liverpool to Manchester," said Keith Hardwick from the Friends of Liverpool Airport, who is one of the organisers along with Martin Keen of Liverpool Flying School.

"Henry Melly has no direct descendents alive today, but the wider Melly family is still on Merseyside and they have kept two souvenir propellers from his aircraft, and have lent one of them to us for the flight."

After flying over Waterloo, the formation will carry on to the site of the Trafford Park Golf Club, now part of an industrial estate. Henry Melly's hosts in 1911 were the Roe family of industrialists, who had founded the A V Roe aircraft company the year before.

That later became the huge Avro organisation, maker of the Lancaster and Vulcan bombers, and descendents of the Roe family will be on hand in Manchester today to greet the formation as it flies overhead.

The aircraft will then follow Henry Melly's route back to Liverpool over Mossley Hill parish church and the site of the Melly home, before turning to Waterloo and eventually landing back at John Lennon Airport.

* HENRY MELLY was from a well-to-do family of Liverpool cotton brokers, who were originally of Swiss extraction.

He had been taught to fly in France by Louis Bleriot, the first man to fly the English Channel in 1909.

On his return to Liverpool he bought his own Bleriot monoplane, and after flying from the sands at Freshfield, near Formby, he established a flying school at Waterloo with three Bleriot machines.

The school closed down when the Great War started in 1914, and he gave up flying.


Henry Melly Henry Melly's pilot's licence, issued by the French authorities in 1910 Henry Melly in his plane on the beach at Crosby
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Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Geographic Code:4EUUK
Date:Jul 7, 2011
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