Newsletter Issue 1 – May 2014

Blackburn Flyers Newsletter

Issue 1 –  May 2014

Getting comfortable on the sofa at home watching ‘How It’s Made’ on discovery channel thinking how I could make a ‘Man Cave’ out of the spare room recently vacated by my daughter who just left home.

The programme was showing how they make a remote control flying model of Santos-Dumont’s Demoiselle.

Light bulbs were flashing in my head thinking, I want one of these planes hanging from the ceiling in my ‘Man-Cave’ with the historic plane as the theme and paintings of the ancient planes on the wall.

The next day I was going to travel to Samlesbury as a part of the Engagement activities at work to make a Runway using masking tapes in one of the hangers for the Great Fly Off activity.  I was waiting for the hired car in the Foya at work which is furnished with the Historic pictures of Robert Blackburn planes.

One picture in particular attracts my eyes and that was the 1909 monoplane which was the first monoplane made by Robert Blackburn, the founder of Brough Site.


I thought of a change in direction of the man-cave theme.  How about ‘Brough’ as the theme?

Within engineering at Brough there were a number of views about the Great Fly-Off activity and some engineers were saying that it would be more engaging if we were making a real plane instead of the paper ones. There was a Urika moment when I linked the man-cave project and the monoplane.  How about making a flying model of the monoplane and get everyone involved?

I’ve discussed this idea with our site director who is in charge of the Engament activities and he told me that it is not a bad idea but this was done before and he recall see it flying from the runway a few years back.

I was discussing the idea with Richard and he wanted to see a full size flying version? That would be impressive, engaging and the flying date would co-inside with the 100th Anniversary of Brough Site in 2016.

In quest to obtain a design I’ve contacted Pat and he explained that the model was build and flown by Andrew and Graham and they might still have the designs and he passed me the video of the event.

Would enough people be interested in this and could we raise enough money to build  a full size flying model of the Blackburn 1909 mono plane and could we make it fly as the original only flew for less than a minute?

I discussed the idea with a few of the Engineers and was pleasantly surprise to see how many people were interested in this project.

At the next Engagement meeting I discussed the idea with the site director and mentioned that we could build the flying model by the anniversary of the Brough site to seek his approval. I then drafted the following proposal to enable me better explain the activity to gain more support.

Proposal to build a Blackburn 1909 Monoplane

As a part of the Hawk Employee Engagement an event is being organised to mark the 100th anniversary of Brough Site in 2016.

The task is to build a flying model of Robert Blackburn’s first flight on 24 May 1910. His flight only lasted a minute but we can use today’s technology and take the advantage of Deregulated Light Aircraft Association (LAA) operating rules (TL2.17) to design and build a manned flying model and use telemetry and 3D virtual reality to view and record what Robert Blackburn would have seen if his flight was successful.

A challenging task but we can plan for the Technology demonstrator and their first flight trials to be on 24th May 2015 exactly 105 years after the original flight with the historic flight on the 100th anniversary of Brough site in 2016.  Since this is a historical event, we would get media coverage and put Brough Engineering back on the map.

This is not an easy task and needs a lot of talent and Lateral Thinking and Engineering marvel to pull it off.

It would need a team of volunteers from Brough Engineering and manufacturing (with added Hawk employees from Warton and Samlesbury) to develop and manufacture the following technologies:

  • Aerodynamic tweaks to make the design more stable without change in the appearance
  • Fly by wire Flight control system
  • Write Control App for mobile devices
  • Autonomous Operation using onboard computer
  • Advance manufacturing using 3D printing with some parts made from composite material-
  • Telemetry with 3D virtual reality capability to see what Bob would have seen in real time.

The flight would be in the exact location as the original one i.e. the beach between Saltburn and Marske.

Two groups of enthusiasts at Brough will be competing to see who could demonstrate current capabilities at Brough.

One team will demonstrating high tech design and manufacturing capabilities whereas the other team will demonstrate the hardware and software capabilities at Brough site.

The competition will be judged against a set of criteria by all Brough employees with all having a casting vote.

The Theme is 1909 Blackburn Monoplane and the entry criteria into one of the competing teams is very simple.  You need to be a Brough employee or work on Hawk programme at Warton or Samlesbury. You also need to be proud of our heritage and what we have achieved since Robert Blackburn started Brough site.

This is a voluntary activity and the teams need to agree on all set targets.  To achieve this the organisers are holding meetings after work hours in the Red Hawk.