J.T.C (John Theodore Cuthbert) Moore-Brabazon (1884-1964)

brabazon_portrait_1_200.jpg A History of Aeronautics
by E. Charles Vivian

XIII. First Fliers in England

One of the first men actually to fly in England, Mr J. C. T. Moore-Brabazon, was a famous figure in the days of exhibition flying.

He won his reputation mainly through being first to fly a circular mile on a machine designed and built in Great Britain and piloted by a British subject.

Moore-Brabazon's earliest flights were made in France on a Voisin biplane in 1908, and he brought this machine over to England, to the Aero Club grounds at Shellness, but soon decided that he would pilot a British machine instead.

An order was placed for a Short machine, and this, fitted with a 50-60 horse-power Green engine, was used for the circular mile, which won a prize of L1,000 offered by the Daily Mail, the feat being accomplished on October 30th, 1909.

Five days later, Moore-Brabazon achieved the longest flight up to that time accomplished on a British-built machine, covering three and a half miles. In connection with early flying in England, it is claimed that A. V. Roe, flying an 'Avro B' on June 8th, 1908, was actually the first man to leave the ground, this being at Brooklands, but in point of fact Cody antedated him.

brabazon_portrait_2_200.jpg John Moore-Brabazon
Lord Brabazon of Tara

Lord Brabazon of Tara was born in England, February 8, 1884 and died in London, May 17, 1964. He first soloed in a French Voisin biplane at Issy-les-Montineaux, Paris, France, in November, 1908.

French F.A.I. brevet #40 was issued to him under the name of Brabazon Moore, on March 8, 1910, before he became a member of the House of Lords in England.
British F.A.I. Airplane Pilot's Certificate Number 1 was issued to him by the Royal Aero Club, making him the first person to be licensed in Great Britain as an Airplane Pilot.

In 1909 he made the first live cargo flight by airplane, by tying a waste-paper basket to a wing-strut of his Voisin airplane. Then, using it as a "cargo hold", he airlifted one small pig.

In October of that year Mr. Moore Brabazon won the first all-British competition of L1000 offered by the Daily Mail for the first machine to fly a circular mile course. His aeroplane was fitted with a 60-horse-power Green aero engine. In the same year M. Michelin offered L1000 for a long-distance flight in all-British aviation; this prize was also won by Mr. Brabazon, who made a flight of 17 miles.

Charles Rolls and Lord Brabazon of Tara made an ascension in the first spherical balloon made in England, which was built by the Short Brothers.

In the First World War, he took a leading roll in the developement of aerial photography.

Reference : The Early Birds of Aviation, CHIRP, December, 1964, Number 71

Early British aviation landmarks in Kent

1909 JTC Moore - Brabazon made the first authenticated British powered flight at Leysdown Isle of Sheppey in a Voisin this was verified by the Aeroclub of Great Britain and he subsequently held pilot's licence number 1.

John Moore-Brabazon
Lord Brabazon of Tara and English Gentleman Flier

Brabazon learned to fly in France, where he purchased and brought back to England, his standard model Voisin aeroplane in 1909. Once in England with his Voisin, he secured the second pilots license issued to a British subject on March 8, 1909 (the first was issued to Henry Farman, noted British aeroplane pilot, designer and builder).


John Moore-Brabazon, with his Voisin "Bird of Passage"
Leysdown, Kent, UK., 1909

download a 750pixel image

And then in May of 1909, Brabazon made a flight of 500 yards in his Voisin at Leysdown in Kent - officially recognized as the first flight by a British pilot in Britain. Once the operability of the Voisin was assured, Brabazon set a number of early flying records, including his personal ambition to prove that pigs really could fly.


Pigs DO Fly !

Brabazon went on to a distinguished and eccentric career in British sport and Government. After further flying exploits and keeping company with the Wright Brothers and Charles Rolls (of Rolls Royce fame), he was Minister of Transport, and later Minister of Aircraft Production under Winston Churchill, and eventually elevated to the House of Lords where he took a seat as Lord Brabazon of Tara.

After the war, Brabazon was given the job of planning for post-war civil aviation in Britain. He chaired a British Cabinet committee that oversaw the building of a prototype aircraft - the Bristol 167 Brabazon - the largest plane ever built in Britain. The 167 performed poorly in initial trials, and lost economical feasibility as more efficient designs were concurrently developed. It never went into production.

Afterward Brabazon, entered into private life and continued to distinguish himself as a racer of Belgian cars, an avid golfer, and, at the age of 70, he rode the fearsome Cresta bobsled run at St. Moritz.

What's in a Name : John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon

If you search the web for Brabazon you are most likely to find a Wisconsin pump manufacturer who has a nice line in an animated pipe system illustrating their various products. Go and visit them if you need to move some sludge or whatever at

If on the other hand you are more interested in aircraft history you may well remember John Theodore Cuthbert Moore-Brabazon. Why? Because in 1909 he made the first flight by a British pilot in Britain. Not only that but he became a Member of Parliament with a special interest in the aircraft and motor industries. During the Second World War he was Minister of Aircraft Production and then made Baron Brabazon of Tara, of Sandwich in Kent. ...more

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