In the Hovercraft world, 2009 was a very special year, as it was marked by the 50th anniversaries of the first flight of SR-N1 and, a few weeks later, its first flight across the English Channel on the 25th July 1959. The Hovercraft Museum at Lee-on-the-Solent put on a tremendous three day show demonstrating that by sheer enthusiasm and commitment, with very little money, miracles can be wrought by volunteers. The picture above was taken during the BBC Breakfast Show on 11th June and shows patron Frances Cockerell with trustees Warwick Jacobs left, and Captain Alan Burns with a student pilot leaning on his shoulder.
Frances Cockerell was there on Anniversary Day to open this historic ‘Hovershow 50’ and was introduced by Major Stuart Syrad OBE MC in the company of the Mayor of Gosport, Diane Searle, also pilots Tony Smith and Col. Roger Harris and a large enthusiastic crowd. (A second page is in preparation). You can download the full text of her speech by clicking on the thumbnail picture of SR-N1 above, use the back button to return to the site menu. It is a truly remarkable speech, well worth reading.
10,000 visitors came from far and wide over the three day period to enjoy the Hovercraft experience at first hand. The Museum has a collection of sixty craft including Princess Anne, a stretched SR-N4, bigger than any other Hovercraft world-wide so far. This amazing collection was augmented by forty visiting craft of every description, surely something for everyone. During the show the Museum’s SR-N6, itself a veteran from the early Channel crossing service, did a special flight for Frances Cockerell and the trustees, 50 years to the day after her father made the first hovercraft crossing of the Channel on SR-N1.
SR-N1 is now in the care of the South Kensington Science Museum and kept at their Wroughton site in Wiltshire. Initially there was hope that it could be taken to the Hovercraft Museum for their 50th Anniversary event, unfortunately the cost and considerable work involved made it impossible. The alternative was to visit Wroughton and it gave an opportunity for historic photographs of the handful of pilots who had flown SR-N1.
From the left they are, Colonel Roger Harris, Major Stuart Syrad OBE MC, Frances Cockerell, holding a picture of her father taken just before the 1959 Channel crossing, Cmdr. Chris Stafford and Bob Strath, who was the designated co-pilot for the Channel crossing. Pic – www.innesmarlow.co.uk .