Southampton's WWI Flying History Celebrated

The Solent Sky museum is charting the areas in which the city contributed to flying during the First World War.

A new exhibition has opened at the Solent Sky museum in Southampton, charting the area's contribution to flying during the First World War.

The city often shows its pride for its Second World War flying heritage, with visible reminders of its historic past ranging from street names to monuments to the servicemen and women of the war.

However, Southampton's First World War aviation history is less well known.

"When we set up this exhibition, initially we didn't actually think there would be a great deal to say, because flying came to this area only in 1910," said Alan Jones from the Solent Sky museum.

"It is amazing how in a very short time what happened in this area."

Mr Jones explained that the nearby village of Calshot expanded by taking on sea planes.

"The first torpedo drops were made from Calshot, so Southampton has a very extensive First World War record that affected the entire city," he added.

Aviation heritage replicas at WWI Flyign Museum 251119 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
Replicas of aircraft used during the First World War are on show at the Solent Sky Museum.

Around the Solent area were many innovative aeroplane manufacturers who benefitted from the boat-building skills so prevalent here.

"We built very light aeroplanes because we didn't have very large engines," explained Mr Jones.

"The skills and workmanship was exactly the same as you would have used to [build] something like J-class yachts."

A replica AVRO 504 biplane is on display at the museum.

The AVRO 504 was used in the first-ever strategic bombing campaign against a German Zeppelin factory.

The exhibition is the latest aspect of aviation heritage to be showcased at the museum, and it shines a light on a little-known part of military flying history.

WWI Flying Museum southampton 251119 CREDIT BFBS.jpg
AVRO 504 replica on display at the museum.