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Horsham man helps write book on history of Bermuda air travel

JPCT 090514 S14200441x Tom Singfield and Ewan Partridge 'Wings over Bermuda  100 years of aviation in the West Atlantic' -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140905-140852001

JPCT 090514 S14200441x Tom Singfield and Ewan Partridge 'Wings over Bermuda  100 years of aviation in the West Atlantic' -photo by Steve Cobb SUS-140905-140852001

Two aviation enthusiasts have penned a book highlighting the critical role of Bermuda in air travel over the past 100 years.

Tom Singfield, of Chennells Way, Horsham, and Ewan Partridge, from Crawley found their shared interest in Bermuda flight history at a chance meeting at Gatwick Airport eight years ago.

The oldest British colony has been the home of hurricane hunters and was a major defence based during the Second World War and the Cold War, but it was off limits to aircraft for years - simply because pilots could not find it.

Tom, 64, a retired air-traffic controller at Gatwick Airport, said: “It’s on its own, 700 miles away from the coast of America. There was nothing other than the occasional scenic flight there. The island is 22 miles long. To find a spot like that was a huge risk.”

In the early 20th century, pilots experimented in landing on the island. In 1930, the British Airways predecessor Imperial Airways and Pan American Airways were granted rights to operate flying boat services there. However it was only during the Second World War when America built a military airbase there, that land planes flew there.

After meeting, Tom and Ewan decided to bring their knowledge of this subject together. Tom had written a magazine article on the British view of Bermuda’s history, while Ewan had written for an American magazine about how it affected things Across the Pond.

Ewan, 53, has worked for the Civil Aviation Authority and MEL, now Thales. He said: “We put our chronologies together. As it turned out it was massively incomplete. Job number one was to put together a chronology. Once we got that in place we were able to map major world events.”

They spent eight years filling in the gaps with further research, by looking at newspaper articles, books and existing research as well as talking to people living on Bermuda.

A book about Bermuda would not be complete with talking about the infamous Triangle. However, the pair decided they did not want to dwell on conspiracy theories.

Ewan said: “It gets a mention once. We give it fairly short shrift in the book. Planes go missing. In air space things can happen - poor equipment, winds.”

Wings Over Bermuda is priced at £40 and is available by emailing tom@singfield.freeserve.co.uk or ewanpartridge@aol.com

 

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