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6th Jul, 2022

Solihull author Alfred's amazing tales of flying machines and more

PUT Alfred Jenks on the spot and he’ll name the Gypsy Moth as his favourite aeroplane, but in truth, he loves them all.

And now the former draguhtsman has produced a stunning book on the heyday on those magnificent men – and women – in their flying machines.

Called ‘Warwickshire Aviation’ it’s been 50 years in the making packed with details, photographs and anecdotes about the airfields, the planes, and the extraordinary characters that flew them.

“After living in Sheldon at the back of what was then Elmdon Airport in the late 1950s I became interested in local aviation and then started to visit Baginton, Coventry for the ‘King’s Cup’ air races along with the ‘Battle of Britain’ displays at Gaydon,” said Alfred who lives in Shirley with his wife Julie.

“Reading about Don Burgoyne, a local aviator from Knowle, inspired me to research the area further.

“After placing letters in nearly all of the local newspapers in Warwickshire asking for any anecdotes, photographs or anything relating to aviation from the inter-wars years I was staggered at the response.”

Alfred, now aged 76, visited libraries and newspaper offices across the country and carried out scores of interviews.

“One gentleman from Saltley had a lucky escape when a propeller split and flew past his head while it was being tested on the Taylor Wagtail aircraft at Dunton!

“The Wagtail owner only had one propeller but he re-drilled the fixing holes to suit another engine which weakened it thereby causing the split.

“Another contact at Berkswell said he was listening on the ‘aircraft airways’ as an aircraft was on the approach to land at Elmdon when transmission just stopped abruptly.

“He learnt the next day that the aircraft had crashed near Cornets End Lane but, thankfully, no-one was killed.”

Alfred, a proud member of the Moth Club even though he’s never flown himself, was also able to examine the minute books of the Midland Aero Club and the Coventry Aeroplane Club as well as police accident reports for 1941-3.

“Aviation must be in my blood because my grandfather Ryle Osborne built an aircraft in Lincoln around 1910 but, sadly, it was destroyed in the Lincoln riots during 1911,” he said.

Warwickshire Aviation, in hardback, costs £25 and is available from Alfred. Email: alfredjenks1944@gmail.com.

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