30th January 1911

Scottish-built plane sets world record

Harold Barnwell not only made the first flight in Scottish history, in July 1909, but, at the end of January 1911, won the JRK Law prize, worth £50, for managing to fly further than a mile and a half. He kept his aircraft aloft for just under 90 seconds. It was a monoplane of his own design, with a 40-horsepower engine.

“There was no accident”

As reported in the Dundee Courier on 31 January 1911, he had been experimenting with the aircraft for some time and “a fortnight ago the aeroplane flew 600 yards at a height of 50 feet; yesterday the flight extended to a mile and a half, and the height was 200 feet. There was no accident, the machine coming down quite easily.”

Barnwell’s 1909 flightwas widely reported. The Sheffield Daily Telegraph of 29 July wrote that he had flown his home-built biplane for the first time “and it immediately soared into the air, but after covering 80 yards it suddenly dipped and came to the ground. The machine was badly damaged and Mr Harold Barnwell, who was in it, sustained several bruises.”

Crash at a Kent aerodrome

Barnwell spent much of his life in the air, serving as a pilot in the First World War then applying what he’d learned when designing new aircraft for military use. He was killed before the war’s end when he crashed at Kent aerodrome. “Having returned… after a fortnight’s absence he was invited to try a machine from which an officer had just alighted,” reported the Dundee Evening Telegraph. “The machine crashed to earth, killing the pilot instantly and wrecking the machine.”

An inquest into the crash ruled death by misadventure after Barnwell’s boss testified that he’d not been in good health in the time leading up to his death. Barnwell was aged just 37 when he was killed.



Other events that occured in January

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