Flying Boats of the Solent and Poole
- Mike Phipp
15th July 2013
Flying boats have been a familiar sight in the Solent since the dawn of aviation. Two of Britain's major manufactures, Saunders-Roe and Supermarine, were based in Cowes and Woolston respectively. The area has been home to flying boats of Imperial Airways and, latterly, BOAC and Aquila Airways. With a terminal at Hythe and then Southampton Docks, one could view not just majestic ocean liners but huge flying boats too, from the Empire boats of Imperial Airways to the majestic Saunders-Roe Princess, built in the post-war period. During wartime, BOAC operated their vital flying boat services from Poole Harbour. In fact, BOAC was based at Poole for longer than Southampton - a fact frequently overlooked, mostly due to wartime censorship. Post-war route expansion was also undertaken while still at Poole. Military aviation in the area saw flying boats operated from RAF Calshot and RAF Hamworthy, with types ranging from elderly biplanes to Sunderlands. Mike Phipp takes us on a tour of the Solent area and Poole Harbour's flying boat heritage using many previously unpublished images of the aircraft plus the men and women that flew and maintained them.