Bristol Scout returns to UK's first hangars after a century

Image caption The last flying Bristol Scout aircraft returned to the scene of its first test flight, 103 years ago

A World War One biplane has returned to the scene of its test flight, for the first time in more than 100 years.

In 1914, a Bristol Scout took off from the first military aircraft hangars in the UK at Larkhill, on Salisbury Plain.

The Wiltshire airfield, then home to the armed forces' first flying unit, is now a housing estate but its five hangars remain and are Grade II-listed.

To mark the "birthplace of military aviation", a replica Scout has been on display at the Wiltshire flying sheds.

Larkhill opened in 1909 and was the first flying grounds in the country.

Five years later, the airfield was the site of the first flight of the Bristol Scout, a small, fast and agile biplane.

Bristol monoplane at Larkhill, Wiltshire Image copyright Thomas Fuller
Image caption The potential of the Bristol Scout was immediately recognised and it entered service with both the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps
Larkhill, Wiltshire
Image caption The Grade II listed hangars have been preserved although the Larkhill flying grounds - the first in the UK is now a housing development

It later went into service in both the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps.

Tom Brown, who organised the event, said Larkhill was the "real birthplace of military aviation" before it was moved to nearby Upavon, Netheravon, and then Farnborough.

"When flying started in Britain in 1908, aviators were at Larkhill in less than six months developing planes," he said.

"The Air Battalion Royal Engineers - which was the first air arm in Britain - was established at Larkhill in 1911.

"And just before the war started, [the Scout] carried out it's first test flight from the flying ground at Larkhill."

line break

Bristol Scout

  • Manufactured by the British and Colonial Aeroplane Co Ltd, Filton and Brislington, Bristol
  • Wingspan - 24ft 7ins (8m)
  • Length - 20ft 8ins (6m)
  • Maximum speed - 93mph

Source: Royal Navy Fleet Air Arm museum

More on this story