Daredevils and wing-walkers

When World War One ended many ex-military pilots wanted to continue flying and to use it as a source of income. They purchased used aircraft at cheap prices and charged members of the public for short flights, gave flying lessons or provided chartered flights. Some pilots used their flying expertise to develop daredevil flying shows.

Crowd scene from a flying circus air show, c1935

These thrilling flying circus shows became known as barnstorming because many events were held on farms or near barns.

Flying circus biplanes in formation, c1935

As the popularity of barnstorming grew so did the daring of the flyers. In 1918 an American called Ormer Locklear started to climb out of the cockpit to walk along the wing and even to step from one plane to the other.  Although this was extremely dangerous it became an expectation that a Flying Circus would have such an stunt. In 1938 the American authorities made it mandatory to wear parachutes at all times. This diminished the daredevil antics and hastened the end of these shows.

A wing-walker in mid-flight at a flying circus

In the earliest days of flight when most aircraft had open cockpits, these intrepid pilots needed protection from exposure to the cold, noise, heat and air pressure. At first, aircraft were flying at slower speeds than motorists and the clothing worn was similar, perhaps a tweed jacket and trousers, hat and goggles.

Louis Paulhan and Claude Grahame-White, c1912

Leading stores like Gamages or Burberry’s soon recognised a new growing market and introduced flying combination suits, fleece lined boots, rainproof gauntlets, leather coats and special goggles. Further developments produced a new range of flying shockproof helmets.

Early aviator, Hilda Beatrice Hewlett, 1911

In 1916 Sidney Cotton, a Royal Naval Air Service pilot made an accidental discovery when having been scrambled for action in his working overalls. He found that the oil and grease which had soaked into the material kept him warm when his fellow pilots were suffering from the cold. He took his idea to Robinson and Cleaver in London and got them to make him a flying suit to his new design. It had 3 layers, a thin fur lining, an airproof silk layer and an outside light Burberry material layer. And so, the Sidcot flying suit came into general operational use.

Pilot beside Avro 504 plane, c1935

See more fantastic images from our Early aviators and their flying machines exhibition on Capital Collections.

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Early aviators and their flying machines

We’re delighted to launch a new exhibition on Capital Collections hosting a collection of glass lantern slides documenting early flight in Edinburgh and beyond.

Airspeed Ferry in flight, c1936. Granton Harbour in distance

The early days of flight had many intrepid characters and designs of flying machines. The Wright brothers of the USA and Louis Bleriot of France are well known but there are many others who dedicated time and money to achieving the seemingly impossible.

In the early 1900s as new aircraft were developed, Air Races with considerable cash prizes were sponsored by newspapers in the United States and the UK. The Daily Mail newspaper was a leading sponsor of air races, using the events to both promote the newspaper and to encourage the development of aviation.

A model aeroplane competition took place at Alexandra Palace in London in 1907 where Edwin Alliott Verdon Roe won all three prizes on offer. Just two years later, Louis Bleriot became world-famous for making the first flight across the English Channel and claimed the £1000 prize money offered by the Daily Mail.

Louis Bleriot prepares for his cross channel flight

The stakes were much higher in 1911 when a frenchman flying under the name of André Beaumont won the Daily Mail Circuit of Britain race starting and finishing at Brooklands in Surrey and touching down in Edinburgh en route. His prize money was £10,000, the equivalent of over £1 million today.

Commercial flying developed from the mid-1920s. In 1924, Imperial Airways was formed from a combination of several small struggling companies subsidised by the government to develop Britain’s external air routes. Passenger numbers grew from 10,300 in 1925 to 62,100 in 1938.

Early airliner, possibly of type used by Imperial Airlines, c1925

Aeroplanes have even been manufactured on Leith Walk in Edinburgh. Local cycle maker John Gibson also described himself from 1910 to 1913 as an aeroplane designer and builder. He built a biplane which was followed by two further improved versions. The second had a production run of 10 and the third version had twin propellers. His advert from c1911 offers a complete biplane for £450 pounds – that’s about £50,000 in today’s money.

Gibson’s Aeroplanes of Leith Walk, c1910

Your Library online

As well as your local branch library there’s one more branch that you should that get to know really well – Your Library, our online branch.

It’s your one-stop-shop for managing your library account, finding out about our books and accessing a range of brilliant online resources.

Go to Your Library at https://yourlibrary.edinburgh.gov.uk to:

1. Access your Library Account  to check what books you’ve got out; renew your books; see your wish list; reserve a book

2. Search the Library Catalogue

3. Find out about Library Events and what’s going on in your local branch

4. Get helpful instructions of how to use our downloadable ebook, audiobook, newspaper and magazine services

5. Suggest a book to be added to stock

6. Find lists of recently added books

7. Start your family or local history search

8. Find information about all our branches

9. See our full A-Z list of all our online resources

 

 

 

 

Big Library Read – digital book club

What Happened to Lizzie Lovett?  That’s the mystery that you can unravel by participating in the world’s largest digital reading club Big Library Read! The book this time is Chelsea Sedoti’s young adult debut novel, The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett, and unlimited people will be able to read it from our OverDrive site at the same time from 12th till 26th October. Not only will the ebook be available, but also the audiobook so you can choose whatever format you fancy.

Told with a unique voice that is both hilarious and heart-wrenching, Sedoti challenges readers to distinguish the line between reality and fiction. Popular girl Lizzie Lovett’s disappearance is the one fascinating mystery her sleepy town has ever had. Classmate and teenage misfit, Hawthorn Creely has her own theory for Lizzie’s disappearance. And what better way to collect evidence than to immerse herself in Lizzie’s life? Like getting a job at the diner where Lizzie worked and hanging out with Lizzie’s boyfriend. After all, it’s not as if he killed her-or did he?

Author Chelsea Sedoti says “The protagonist of The Hundred Lies of Lizzie Lovett is no stranger to reading; she knows all about using books as an escape. Seventeen-year-old misfit Hawthorn Creely is dissatisfied with the real world. She’d rather lose herself in fiction, where everything is bigger, better, and more magical. But when Hawthorn applies this mindset to the disappearance of her former classmate, Lizzie Lovett, life goes awry.”

Readers can join an online conversation about the book at BigLibraryRead.com. All you need is library membership so you can login with your library card and PIN. Full instructions for using OverDrive can be found on our Your Library website.

 

Read all about it!

Did you know you can read over 4000 UK and worldwide newspapers and magazines for free on your tablet, phone or computer? From anywhere you can simply login to the  PressReader  app or website with your library card number and PIN to get access to today’s news 24/7.

With Edinburgh Libraries PressReader service you can access over 100 UK and Irish newspapers including today’s editions of the Edinburgh Evening NewsScotsmanScottish Daily MailThe Press and JournalThe Guardian and The Herald as well as over 100 UK magazines.

Publications from over 100 countries in 60 languages are available including from Poland, India, USA, France and China. Articles can be translated into 16 languages and you can also listen to today’s news by using Library PressReader’s Radio function which will read articles out to you.

PressReader has a small range of material for children too as it includes comics such as the BeanoHorrible Histories and Doctor Who Adventures. It also includes a newspaper aimed specifically at children – First News.

You’ll find full user instructions on our Your Library website.

Magazine madness

Well, you’d be mad not to use our magazine service. There’s no catch, just instant access to over 130 popular magazine titles for you to download and keep. It has an easy to use app and best of all its free.

So make good use your library card today and use RBdigital to get free digital access to magazines such as Hello!, New Scientist, Grazia, Amateur Photographer, Good Housekeeping and BBC Good Food.

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RBdigital is really easy to set up, works brilliantly (especially on tablets) and could of course save you a fortune in magazine subscriptions. Head over to our RBdigital page to see the full list of titles and find out how to get started.

Enjoy!

Listen up!

Love audiobooks? Whats not to love! – they are ideal for the morning commute, the gym or while you’re doing the cooking, housework and DIY. Edinburgh Libraries has a fantastic selection of audiobooks for you to enjoy. Did you know you could download hundreds for free at home from Edinburgh Libraries? We have four different downloadable audiobook suppliers so we can give you the widest choice possible of authors and publishers.

Check these out today –

OverDrive – checkout over 1500 adult, teen and child audiobooks with OverDrive. You can borrow up to 10 at a time and either stream over the internet or download on your mobile device or computer.

RBdigital – has a great range of bestselling British authors such as Peter May, Cecelia Ahern, Val McDermid, Peter James, David Walliams and Santa Montefiore. Borrow another 5 titles here with automatic returns and no fines. 1500 titles to choose from including children’s, teen and adult titles.

Borrowbox – has a super easy to use app and a growing collection of over 400 adult audiobooks. Some fantastic titles including The Muse by Jessie Burton, The Widow by Fiona Barton and My Italian Bulldozer by Alexander McCall Smith.

uLIBRARY – our newest service with a growing choice of British authors including Ann Cleeves, Quintin Jardine, Paula Hawkins, M.J.Arlidge & Katie Fforde