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DH Comet G-ACSS & The Burberry Racer Project

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    DH Comet G-ACSS & The Burberry Racer Project

    Hello chaps - thought our latest wheeze might be of interest - please check out the weblink for pics - thanks to Damien - also the Museum is now extending foundations for 2 huts have been laid so we will be expanding by 2/3rds - Hope alls well Ben

    BETTY HEYCOCK (NEE KIRBY-GREENE) 1906-1992
    The Unsung Aviatrix

    Born in Thurlestone, Devon in 1926. Betty Kirby-Greene developed an early interest in flying and in 1926 took her first flight as a passenger in a de Havilland Gypsy Moth from Heston, delivering papers during the General Strike. She immediately caught the aviation 'bug' and was determined to learn to fly!

    In 1937 she obtained her 'A' Pilots Licence at Heston aerodrome which permitted her to fly 3 miles from the aerodrome solo. A member of the 'Hay Hill Club' bet her 100 that she could not fly from London to Paris solo within two weeks and she immediately took up the challenge. Begging and borrowing the money from friends she hired a Moth and after an eventful journey made it to Le Bourget at won her bet - with half a gallon of fuel left in her petrol tank.

    Thereafter she worked towards her 'B' Licence and retained a small Klemm CL.3 aircraft on loan from a friend. She was introduced to the famed aviator F/O A.E. Houston who was keen to break a new aviation record. They hired the de Havilland DH.88 'Comet' racer G-ACSS (known as 'Grosvenor House') which had won the famous Mildenhall-Melbourne MacRoberston Air Race in 1934 when piloted by C.W.A. Scott and T. Campbell-Black (the aircraft is preserved at The Shuttleworth Collection, Old Warden, Beds).

    More tortuous fund-raising efforts followed, and the attempt was sponsored by Burberry Ltd the clothing manufacturers. The red Comet was repainted Burberry beige and titled 'The Burberry'.

    They departed Croydon on the 14th November 1937 and smashed the London-Cairo record in 11hours four minutes (beating the previous record by 30 minutes). They continued on to Cape Town, arriving there in a total time of 45 hours two minutes (averaging 155.52mph) and breaking the previous record by more than 33 hours!

    Betty later married F/O George Heycock in 1938 who later rose to the rank of Air Commodore following active service as a fighter pilot during the War. He later became Air Attach in Washington and Paris. The Heycock family hailed from Pytchley Hall in Northamptonshire and Betty & George settled there in 1948 and remained there until George passed away in 1988 and Betty in 1992.

    She remains an inspiration to female aviators the world over for her spirit and determination to succeed - whatever the odds.


    THE BURBERRY RACER PROJECT AT SYWELL

    Some two years ago the Sywell Aviation Museum and Sywell Aerodrome acquired a 7/8ths scale replica of a DH.88 Comet Racer - presently painted in its earlier 'Grosvenor House' scheme. It was commissioned by the then owners of the Galleria Shopping Centre in Hatfield and remained on show, suspended from the roof, for over 20 years. In 2006 it was removed by the new owners and passed to another Museum from where it was brought to Sywell.

    In its removal, the airframe suffered some damage, and though repairable, it will need some money spent on it prior to going on display. It is a superb replica resplendant with propellers, undercart and even detailled exhaust stubs!

    The Burberry Racer Project has been established to raise funds to refurbish the machine and place it on show at Sywell Aerodrome, only a few miles away from where Betty Heycock spent most of her life. It will be repainted in The Burberry scheme it wore at the time of the Cape Record.

    Some 6000 is needed to achieve its refurbishment and installation in memory of Betty Heycock at her 'home' aerodrome.
    No replica of The Burberry Racer is extant worldwide - we aim to remedy this!

    If you can help,would like to make a donation, would like more information or can assist with details of the precise colours of The Burberry scheme please contact TheBurberryRacer@googlemail.com or call Ben Brown on 07968061708

    The website can be found at http://www.sywellaerodrome.co.uk/burberry-racer.php

    Photographs and copy news items come from Betty Heycock's Autobiography 'Put it down to experience' published by Marlow Durndell 1991 and remain copyright of the respective owners and The Heycock Estate.
    Our Beech 18 & T-6@www.beechrestorations.com
    Visit Sywell Aviation Museum @
    www.sywellaerodrome.co.uk/museum.php
    Sywell Airshow 17.8.2014

    #2
    George Heycock was the Station Commander at RAF West Raynham at the end of the war. Betty Heycock could not have died in 1992 because she was a guest at the closure ceremony of RAF West Raynham in June, I think it was, 1994.

    Comment


      #3
      Comet Racer

      An account of the flight, preperations and all that it involved are also covered in "The Dangerous Skies"by AE Clouston along with his other record breaking flights in the Comet Racer. The book is out of print but many copies around both in paperback and hardback

      Comment


        #4
        Delighted to see this initiative. I knew it was going to a good home!


        Bruce

        Comment


          #5
          Thank you all for your comments- Agcat - I'm grateful, we dont know for sure when she passed away- but were told 1992-I have however received contact details for her family and have written to them to ask for more info

          Bruce - serendipity this isnt it!

          All the best

          Ben
          Our Beech 18 & T-6@www.beechrestorations.com
          Visit Sywell Aviation Museum @
          www.sywellaerodrome.co.uk/museum.php
          Sywell Airshow 17.8.2014

          Comment


            #6
            The "Flight International" photo library has some wonderful photos of G-ACSS arriving at Croydon as "The Burberry". I published an article by Air Cdr Clouston in "Vintage Aircraft magazine" which used several of them - he was kind enough to autograph one which hangs on my study wall - next to another autographed by Alex Henshaw. It really was a privilege to have met & corresponded with these extraordinary people. Best of luck with the project.
            Now finished Hawker Hurricane Survivors - published by Grub Street http://grubstreet.co.uk/product/hawk...ane-survivors/

            Comment


              #7
              Thought you might like to see another replica of the DH 88 in the air with another unusual aeroplane. Taken at Oshkosh earlier this year and on the solo photo shoot the Comper got to 11700 feet. Very cold for the pilot.
              Attached Files

              Comment


                #8
                Thanks again gents - will seek out the FI pics - that A2A is lovely Scion!
                Our Beech 18 & T-6@www.beechrestorations.com
                Visit Sywell Aviation Museum @
                www.sywellaerodrome.co.uk/museum.php
                Sywell Airshow 17.8.2014

                Comment


                  #9
                  Betty Kirby-Green material

                  There are letters and photographs regarding the Kirby-Green/Clouston record flight to the Cape in 1937 within The Alex Henshaw Collection at the RAF Museum.

                  You can see one image of the Comet in "Alex Henshaw: A Flying Legend" by Michael Turner on page 50.

                  Comment


                    #10
                    Slightly off topic, but has anyone got any contact details for the family of Victor Ricketts who flew with Clouston on the world record flight to New Zealand in G-ACSS in March 1938.

                    Best Regards

                    Andy Fletcher

                    Comment


                      #11
                      Victor Ricketts

                      His wife is listed as Dorothy Ricketts (nee Perkins) of Streatham, London. There is currently a D. Ricketts of 396 York Way, Holloway, London, N7 9LW, 020 7607 7027. It is a long shot but you can but try.

                      Alternatively try and trace a will for him or his wife and see if there were any children or relatives.

                      Did you have a particular interest in researching Ricketts life?

                      Comment


                        #12
                        Hi Scotty,

                        Many thanks for the info.

                        I'm researching Rickett's RAF career and was wondering if relatives may have more details.

                        Best Regards

                        Andy Fletcher

                        Comment


                          #13
                          Ricketts

                          Hi Andy

                          Some general info is that he was commissioned as a Plt Off on the 1 Feb 1940 from being a Sergeant (service number as an officer 77341, as an NCO was 745134).

                          Promoted Flg Off 1 Feb 1941 and Flt Lt on 1 Feb 1942. Awarded DFC on 2 Jun 1942 and KIA on 12 Jul 1942.

                          Since his unit was 1 PRU on his death I would recommend looking at the unit and station operational record books at Kew. Particularly AIR27/2015, 2018, 2020, 2026; AIR34; AIR28/61; AIR5/752; AIR40/1495; AIR2/3096, 3097.

                          Sidney Cotton was recruiting prominant pre-war flyers to join his PDU squadron at Heston at the beginning of the War and Ricketts may have been there until his death. The ORBs will provide details of sorties made and the circumstances of his death. The next best thing to having his service record and logbooks etc.

                          Comment


                            #14
                            Hi Scotty,

                            Many thanks for taking the time to look up all of the details.

                            Sidney Cotton was long gone from the PRU when Ricketts joined (c.Feb 42, 1 PRU ORB is quite vague, especially wih postings). Ricketts flew with 248 Sqn during the Battle of Britain period.

                            He received his DFC for a D/A sortie to Billancourt at low level, in appalling weather.

                            Cheers

                            Andy Fletcher

                            Comment


                             

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