Saturday, 18 March 2017

An Aeroplanist Visits Luton

Claude Grahame-White at Bromham with his mono-plane, 1912 [Z1306/21/10]

Sunday 18th March 1917: A sensation was caused this afternoon by two visits of Captain Ball, hero of many aerial encounters with the Germans, to Luton. He first landed a one-seater in Crawley’s field, behind the Red Rails allotments near Ashburnham Road; then reappeared in a two-seater in which he offered to take the Mayor for a flight. As the Mayor was not present, Police Inspector Duncombe took the opportunity, thoroughly enjoying the experience. It transpired that Captain Ball was billeted in Ashburnham Road when stationed at Luton with the 1st North Midlands, and wanted to revisit the town in which he had spent may happy hours. A large crowd gathered, but the police had no difficulty keeping order. Inspector Duncombe described his experience enthusiastically:
 “I would not have missed it for £5. It was beautiful. We ascended to a great height, but there was nothing alarming in the experience. Asked if he would take a lady up into the clouds, the brave officer said he should like to, but he had certain regulations to conform to. I am very glad to have had the opportunity of feeling what it is like to skim at a tremendous rate through the air. It took my breath away at first, and once or twice I thought we should crash into haystacks and the like. It was a little creepy to see these obstacles pass like a flash under the machine. The Captain has wonderful control and guided the aeroplane with the ease of a practised motorman. I felt as safe as being in a motor car.
Source: Luton News, 22nd March 1917

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