Mercury 1 Filey Beach

Mercury 1 Filey Beach (Fisher Crimlisk Archives)

Robert Blackburn took on Bentfield (Benny) Charles Hucks as instructor and chief test pilot at his Filey Aircraft testing site in March 1911. Benny Hucks was a pioneering aviator with several accomplishments to his name:- On the 17th of May 1911, he flew the Mercury I to Scarborough and back in 19 minutes, averaging 50 mph and reaching a height of 1,200 feet (a Northern England record).

Benny achieved the only Aero Club Aviators Certificate awarded in Filey (No. 91) on the 18th of May 1911 even though the engine seized, the propeller flew off and he crashed in front of the examiners! On the 10th of July, he flew 40 miles by night via Bridlington and Scarborough, landing on the beach back at Filey by the light of bonfires.

On the 1st of September he became the first person to do a double crossing of the Bristol Channel (Weston-super-Mare to Cardiff and back). This was in a Mercury II. Benny Hucks is also credited with being the first in England to fly upside down and loop the loop. Local legend has him looping the loop over Filey railway station.

Hubert Oxley took over the job of flying instructor from Benny Hucks in September 1911. Benny Hucks went on to do flying shows and joined the Royal Flying Corps in 1914 where he was awarded the 1914 Star. He was invalided from the front with pleurisy, became a test pilot for the Aircraft Manufacturing Company and died from pneumonia on the 7th of November 1918 after catching Spanish Flu. He was 34.

Filey Bay Initiative

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