06:00 Friday 27 June 2014

Sutton man who built his own aeroplane wins two Vintage Aircraft Club awards

Written byJORDAN DAY

An aircraft enthusiast has won two major awards for the vintage aeroplane he spent six years building in his garage.

David Beale, from Sutton, has dedicated the majority of his spare time to building a replica E2H Percival Mew Gull monoplane.

The aircraft, which was completed and flown for the first time last year, has been hailed as ‘a remarkable feat’ and has seen David win two major awards from the Vintage Aircraft Club.

He has won the Desmond Penrose Trophy for ‘Vintage Aeroplane of the Year’ and the George Davidson Cup for his enduring contribution in helping to keep vintage aircraft flying.

David, who has recently retired as managing director of GB Innomech Ltd, based in Witchford, said: “There are no original Mew Gulls in the form they left the works in 1936 and so my plan was to build one and capture as much information and detail into an airworthy replica whilst it is possible to do so.

“The project took me six years and was mainly constructed in my garage in Sutton.

“The aircraft has a range of over 1,000 miles and cruises at 200mph. It beats a ‘super car’ hands down and is still faster than all but a few modern light aircraft.

“The forward visibility is as bad as predicted and great care has to be taken when flying to make sure there is nothing in the way when travelling at 3.5 miles a minute.

“The comment from the test pilot when he first flew it was that the airfield totally disappears from view on final approach, so landings are almost by feel and features are visible to the sides only not ahead.

“The aircraft has no modern landing aids and is exactly as flown in 1936.”

David said: “The plane was intended to be a distraction from work giving me plenty to think about with the research, finding period components, building and learning new “old” skills such as forming aluminium using an English wheel.

“As a result of ongoing research, many parts were made and subsequently scrapped or re-made when found to be slightly different as more archive research material was found to keep the plane as near original to the original form as possible.”

The aircraft is 21ft long and has a wing span of 24ft 9in. Its maximum speed is 265mph and its fuel capacity is 57gallons.

For more information, visit www.vintageaircraftclub.org.uk.

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