John Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara

John Moore-Brabazon - Picture

Aviation History - John Moore-Brabazon - John Moore-Brabazon in his Voisin Bird of Passage in 1909

John Moore-Brabazon Information

John Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara

Born: 8 February 1884(1884-02-08) London, England
Died: 17 May 1964(1964-05-17) (aged 80) Longcross, Surrey, England
Birth name: John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon
Nationality: British
Political party: Conservatives
Occupation: Aviator, politician

John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon, 1st Baron Brabazon of Tara, GBE, MC, PC (8 February 1884 - 17 May 1964) was an English aviation pioneer and Conservative politician. He was the first Englishman to pilot a heavier-than-air machine under power in England, and he served as Minister of Transport and Minister of Aircraft Production during World War II.

Early life

Moore-Brabazon was born in London to Lieutenant-Colonel John Arthur Henry Moore-Brabazon (1828-1908) and his wife, Emma Sophia (d. 1937). He was educated at Harrow School before reading engineering at Trinity College, Cambridge, but did not graduate. He spent university holidays working for Charles Rolls as an unpaid mechanic, and became an apprentice at Darracq in Paris after leaving Cambridge. In 1907 he won the Circuit des Ardennes in a Minerva.

Pioneer aviator

Aviation History - John Moore-Brabazon - John Moore-Brabazon in his Voisin Bird of Passage in 1909

Picture - John Moore-Brabazon in his Voisin Bird of Passage in 1909

He learned to fly in 1908 in France in a Voisin biplane. He became the first resident Englishman to make an officially recognized aeroplane flight in England on 2 May 1909 on the Isle of Sheppey with flights of 450ft, 600ft, and 1500ft. On 4 May 1909 Moore-Brabazon had his picture taken outside of the aero club Mussel Manor, now known as Muswell Manor, alongside the Wright Brothers, the Short Brothers, Charles Rolls, and many other early aviation pioneers. In 1909 he sold his Voisin biplane, Bird of Passage to Arthur Edward George (who learned to fly in it at the Royal Aero Club's flying-ground at Shellbeach) and bought a Short Brothers Wright biplane. A documentary, A Dream of Flight, was made in 2009 to celebrate the centenary of his achievement on the Isle of Sheppey.

On 30 October 1909, flying his Short Brothers aircraft, he flew a circular mile and won a 1,000 pound prize offered by the Daily Mail newspaper. On 4 November 1909, as a joke to prove that pigs could fly, he put a small pig in a waste-paper basket tied to a wing-strut of his airplane. This may have been the first live cargo flight by airplane. With Charles Rolls, he would later make the first ascent in a spherical gas balloon made in England by the Short brothers.

On 8 March 1910, Moore-Brabazon became the first person to qualify as a pilot in the United Kingdom and was awarded Royal Aero Club Aviator's Certificate number 1; his car also bore the number-plate FLY 1. However only four months later, his friend Charles Rolls was killed in a flying accident and Moore-Brabazon's wife persuaded him to give up flying.

World War I

With the outbreak of War, Moore-Brabazon return to flying, joining the Royal Flying Corps. He served on the Western Front where he played a key role in the development of aerial photography and reconnaissance. In March 1915 he was promoted to captain and appointed as an equipment officer. On 1 April 1918, when the Royal Flying Corps merged with the Royal Naval Air Service to form the Royal Air Force, Moore-Brabazon was appointed as a staff officer (first class) and made a temporary lieutenant-colonel.

Moore-Brabazon finished the war with the rank of Lieutenant-Colonel, had been awarded the Military Cross, and had become a commander of the Légion d'honneur.

Conservative MP

Moore-Brabazon later became a Conservative Member of Parliament (MP) for Chatham (1918-1929) and Wallasey (1931-1942) and served as a junior minister in the 1920s. In 1931 and 1932 he served as a member of the London County Council. In Winston Churchill's wartime government, he was appointed Minister of Transport in October 1940 and joined the Privy Council, becoming Minister of Aircraft Production in May 1941. As the Minister of Transport he proposed the use of Airgraphs to reduce the weight and bulk of mails travelling between troops fighting in the Middle East and their families in the UK. He was forced to resign in 1942 for expressing the hope that Germany and the Soviet Union, then engaged in the Battle of Stalingrad, would destroy each other. Since the Soviet Union was fighting the war on the same side as Britain, the hope that it should be destroyed, though common in the Conservative Party, was unacceptable to the war effort.

Later life

Moore-Brabazon was elevated to the House of Lords as Baron Brabazon of Tara, of Sandwich in the County of Kent, in April 1942. In 1943 he chaired the Brabazon Committee which planned to develop the post-war British aircraft industry. He was involved in the production of the Bristol Brabazon, a giant airliner that first flew on 4 September 1949. It was then and still is (as of 2004) the largest aeroplane built in Britain.

A keen golfer, Moore-Brabazon was captain of the Royal and Ancient Golf Club of St Andrews, the governing body of golf, from 1952 to 1953. At the age of 70 he was still riding the Cresta Run.

Moore-Brabazon was president of the Royal Aero Club, president of the Royal Institution, chairman of the Air Registration Board, and president of the Middlesex County Automobile Club from 1946 until his death in 1964. In he was appointed a Knight Grand Cross of the Order of the British Empire in 1953.

On 27 November 1906, he married Hilda Mary Krabbé, with whom he had two sons. He was succeeded by his eldest son, Derek.

Rose, Kenneth (2004). "Brabazon, John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-, first Baron Brabazon of Tara (1884-1964)". Oxford Dictionary of National Biography. Oxford University Press. doi:10.1093/ref:odnb/32018. Retrieved 2009-08-16. subscription or library membership required

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