Topical Budget: Nearly Five Miles In The Air! Croydon (1928)
ProRes digital file Black & White Mute 1928 1:14
Summary: A Newsreel of Lady Neath at Croydon Airport Ready to Take Flight in Her Moth Biplane
Title number: 19785
LSA ID: LSA/26228
Description: Lady Heath is shown decked in flying gear as she checks her Moth biplane before take off. The plane is shown over Croydon at a height of almost five miles, setting a solo altitude record for men and women, followed by the caption “My breath had frozen into my muffler… so I turned my power off and glided towards the earth again.” The plane is then filmed back at the airport, and a laughing Lady Heath has her photograph taken while men cheer.
Further information: Lady Heath, born in Ireland in 1896, was already a top athlete when she began taking flying lessons in 1925. She became the first pilot – male or female – to fly from Cape Town to London in May 1928. American newspapers christened her “Britain’s Lady Lindy”. This solo altitude was set in October 1928 at Croydon, the largest airport in the country at that time.
Topical Budget (1911-1931) was one of three major British newsreels of the silent era, its main rivals being Gaumont Graphic and Pathé Gazette. Produced by William Jeapes' Topical Film Company, its first issue was released in September 1911. Of several newsreels on the market in this early period, by the middle of the First World War only three survived: Topical, Pathé and Gaumont.
Croydon Airport is now a housing estate. The terminal building and the traffic control tower are still standing, and in the middle of the housing estate they’ve kept a stretch of tarmac which was one of the runways. There’s a Croydon Airport Visitor Centre at the site (http://www.croydonairport.org.uk/The-Airport).
Keywords: Croydon; Eliott Lynn; De Havilland Gypsy Moth
In galleries: London On the Move: Planes, Trains and Buses