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Taking to the sky

Early Aviation in Wiltshire

William of Malmesbury recorded that in 1005 Benedictine monk Eilmer of Malmesbury attempted to fly by jumping off the top of Malmesbury Abbey tower wearing homemade wings.

Walter Powell, MP for Malmesbury and hot air balloonist, made a final fatal trip in 1881 when his balloon floated away from Chesil beach, never to be seen again.

More successful flight developed in the early 20th century with Salisbury Plain becoming a centre for aviation testing (continuing today at Boscombe Down), and rapid advancement was promoted by WW1.

Flying for leisure emerged in the inter-war years and, amongst other land, sea and air records, Bradford-on-Avon resident Mary Bruce was the first woman to fly solo around the world in 1931.


Images: Copyright Wiltshire & Swindon History Centre - P50226, P6299, P53973, 1700/12, P40890

This page is part of People who came before