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Local Hero

05/06/2012 9:45 AM

If I were to ask you, to name some famous pilots from the past -The Wright Brothers , Louis Bleriot, Charles Lindbergh , Amelia Earhart and Amy Johnson  would more than likely feature in your reply.  One name probably would not be mentioned, barely known and forgotten in aviation history is Samuel Summerfield.

Thankfully due to the endeavours of John McQuaid in hair extensions in india researching Samuel’s life, the inhabitants of Melton Mowbray can now be equally proud of their very own pioneer aviator, his name and past are now documented to inspire and encourage young and old alike.

An evocative photograph uncovered by a Culvertons valuer was taken in 1914 and pictures a young, handsome Samuel Summerfield on the Watson Rocking Wing at BUC Aerodrome in France.

Samuel was born in South Derbyshire in 1894, records show by his sixth birthday his parents Samuel and Alice Summerfield had arrived and were living in the small community of Sysonby-near Melton, they set up as graziers and produced meat for the local market. Samuel junior was one of eight children and their second son and fifth oldest.

Ten years on the family were established in their own butchers shop and young Samuel seemed already obsessed with the idea of flight, when not working as a clerk at the Gas board offices in town , the majority of his spare time and money was directed towards his hobby.

As a young teenager Samuel is recorded as supplying aviation materials by mail order from an address in Sherrard Street. Surrounded by the materials he needed to construct a rudimentary flying machine, it was not long before he was able, at the age of 15 from eyewitness accounts  given by local inhabitants, to glide aboard home-made machines at around the time of Bleriot’s great achievement.

On September 12th 1912 the enthusiasm and focus shown as a youth, together with a series of flying lessons as a teenager, paid off. Samuel Summerfield was awarded a prestigious Aviators Certificate, no. 292 from the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom. A good pupil by all reports, and some two years later he was embarked on the urgent training of pilots for the new Royal Flying Corps - the country was now at war with Germany and the government feared attack from the air.

After serving in the Royal Air Force he left England to set up a flying business in Australia, a venture which unfortunately failed.  Gold fever struck the Northern Territories in 1935 and Samuel followed the multitude in search of their fortune. Until his death at the age of 74 Samuel was still pursuing a life as a ‘grubber amateur gold prospector. He is buried in the now small mining town of Tennant Creek.

Culvertons are making enquiries as to where this photograph would be best displayed.- according to Mr McQuaid this discovery is amongst the best yet and a delightful find.

Our thanks go to Mr McQuaid for much of the information within this news-page.