Pashley bi-plane at Shoreham airfield, July 1914 (AM625/3/15)

am-625-from-bookletChosen by Katherine Slay, member of staff

This photograph shows Eric Pashley flying a bi-plane on the day he won the Shell Trophy at Shoreham in July 1914. In the foreground are the parked vehicles of some of those who had come to watch the flying race.

(AM625/3/19) Cecil joy-riding on Bognor beach, c1913

Powered flight was still in its infancy at this time; the first documented powered flight in an aeroplane had been by Orville Wright in the United States in December 1903, less than 11 years earlier. It lasted for 12 seconds and covered a distance of 37 metres.

Cecil and Eric Pashley were brothers, and pioneer British aviators. Cecil learned to fly in 1908, and was granted an Aviation Certificate (number 106) by the Royal Aero Club in July 1911 when he was 20. Eric’s was issued two months later (number 139) when he was 19.

From Brooklands in Surrey, Cecil and Eric transferred their base to Shoreham in 1913. Eric was commissioned in the Royal Flying Corps in the First World War; he died in a flying accident on 17 March 1917, aged just 24.

(AM625/3/21) Bi-plane on Bognor beach, c1913

In the earliest photographs in the collection, the pilot is shown sitting in a wooden structure which was little more than an open box with the aircraft engine mounted at the back, very different to modern aeroplanes.

There was considerable public interest in aeroplanes, which were still a novelty. The Henry Farman plane which landed on Bognor beach when the tide was out draw a large crowd of onlookers.

In the 1920s Cecil and F G Miles started a flying school and joyriding business at Shoreham, the Gnat Aero Company. This later split into the South Coast Flying Club and the Southern Aero Club.

(AM625/3/178) South Coast Flying Club, 1948


Cecil held a pilot’s licence for more than 50 years, and trained many people to fly, both civilians and service personnel. He was commissioned in the Royal Air Force Volunteer Reserve during World War 2, was awarded the Air Force Cross in 1944, and was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 1948. Cecil died in 1969 and a road at Shoreham Airport is named after him.

The Pashley collection of log books, letters, photographs and ephemera is catalogued as AM625 and comprises around 400 items.

(AM625/5/5/2) Cecil’s Aviation Certificate, July 1911

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