Windermere: birthplace of British naval and civil marine aeroplanes
'To fly over water is certainly
to taste to the full the joy of flight,
and when the water is Windermere and the scenery the pick of English Lakeland, which is to many a traveller the pick of the whole world, in its soft intimate loveliness, the result is something not lightly forgotten'

Gertrude Bacon in 1912
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ONE of the most significant sagas in aviation history is set to soar as shares to recreate Britain's first successful seaplane are offered.

For as little as £3, punters can join a £160,000 mission to recreate revolutionary Waterbird, a century after her maiden flight from Windermere.

Decried by novelist Beatrix Potter, but with the support of Winston Churchill, the 1911 triumph dispelled the belief it was impossible to fly from water.

For Captain Edward Wakefield, thrice mayor of Kendal, Army officer, barrister and landowner, it was testimony to his determination to achieve an 'unattainable' feat.

His creation captivated the country. The share launch, on November 25, marks the 102nd anniversary of a magnificent man and his flying machine's momentous ascent.

Component shares are part of an ambitious scheme by the Lakes Flying Company (LFC), co-founded by Wakefield with descendants now in its ranks.

According to LFC's Ian Gee, the dream is on the brink of turning to reality.

He said: "These are exciting times. The construction is underway and a major obstacle in the ultimate journey has now been removed.

"Thanks to a recent Defra ruling, the Lake District National Park Authority now has the power to grant exemption orders to Windermere's speed limit.

"We are appealing to the country to back us. This is a unique opportunity to be part of a compelling story signalling the birth of naval and civil hydro-aeroplanes in the UK.

"Once funding is secured, Waterbird could be flying again within a year."

Twenty-two parts are up for adoption, including wings, fuselage, engine, propeller and floats. Most are split into 50 shares, while the £4,500 needed for turnbuckles is divided into 1,500 £3 units.

The replica is being built in Lincoln, spearheaded by former RAF serviceman, Gerry Cooper, who plans to take the controls when it is ready to fly from Windermere's still waters.

Mr Gee said some of the original parts survived Waterbird's destruction, just four months after the first successful lake flight.

He added: "Sadly, a storm caused the hangar to collapse, leaving the seaplane beyond salvage.

"Several significant sections, including the rudder, bearing the name of her builders, A.V. Roe, of Manchester, are held by the RAF's museum service.

"A long-term goal is to establish the Edward Wakefield Memorial Seaplane Centre, but for now our focus is on establishing the replica as an important part of local history."

Beatrix Potter and Canon Rawnsley, co-founder of the National Trust, fronted a heated campaign against Wakefield's airborne activities on Windermere.

It made national headlines, but with the support of Churchill, then First Lord of the Admiralty, a public inquiry came out in Waterbird's favour.

Wakefield became one of Britain's most important aviation pioneers. President of the replica project is retired Admiral of the Fleet, Sir Benjamin Bathhurst.

Bowness Bay Brewing Company has just named a new beer Waterbird Wheat, also to be launched on November 25. Donations from every bottle and barrel will be paid into the funding pot.

When Herbert Stanley Adams took Waterbird's controls on that calm November day in 1911, he became part of a legend, now on the cusp of a 21st century come-back.

Full information on the adoption scheme for parts will be on new website on November 25.


Note to newsdesks:

For further information and interview requests please contact Ian Gee on 07786 918176,

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