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On This Day

The Avro Type D made its maiden flight on 1st April 1911 when it was flown by Howard Pixton at Brooklands.


The single-seat racing Type D at Brooklands on the eve of the Circuit of Britain Race, July 1911

In 1911, the fledgling Avro company embarked on a new project to design and build a biplane, bringing to an end the series of triplanes designed by Alliott Verdon-Roe. The decision was partly based upon the success of the competitor’s machines but was also due to the influence of Reginald Parrott, a talented aeronautical engineer and designer who was employed as Avro’s works manager.


The Avro Type D was a two-seater biplane with lateral control achieved by wing warping. The triangular girder fuselage and monoplane tail bore a striking resemblance to the earlier Roe IV Triplane. After its maiden flight Howard Pixton declared that the aeroplane was ‘stable, viceless and easy to fly', a statement which was supported by a number of pilots who flew the Type D over the following months.


An evocative shot of Howard Pixton flying an Avro Type D at Brooklands, Easter Monday 1911

The success of the Type D resulted in the sale of the aeroplane to Commander Oliver Schwann who bought it for £700. Schwann made several modifications to the machine including replacing the undercarriage with floats. On 8th November Schwann became the first British pilot to take off from water in a British aeroplane when he embarked on a flight in the Type D. Unfortunately, Schwann was not a qualified pilot at this time and the aircraft fell back into the water and capsized! The aeroplane was salvaged and trials resumed once the repairs were completed. On 9th April 1912, with S.V. Sippé at the controls, the Type D became the first British seaplane to take off from coastal waters.


The seaplane version of the Type D at Barrow-in-Furness, 2nd April 1912

Avro went on to build a total of seven Type Ds, many of which were used by the Avro School at Brooklands and subsequently the Avro Flying School at Shoreham. The Type D was entered into several air races and was used by Howard Pixton (together with a Bristol Boxkite) when he won the Manville duration prize on 4th October 1911.


Sights like this were common as the Type D was used by the Avro School at Brooklands, 28th May 1911

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