Posted 06 June 2007 - 06:22 pm
Barber was one of Britain's true aviation pioneers. Inspired by the Wright brothers, he took a railway arch in Battersea (! my inference being that this was to produce aircraft there) and in 1909 moved to Lark Hill on Salisbury Plain, forming the Aeronautical Syndicate Ltd and beginning to build aircraft there. He was convinced that aircraft would have a key role in a future war. By March 1910 his designs were making successful flights. In September 1910 the Syndicate became the first occupant of the sheds newly erected at Hendon flying field. The following month a three-seat "Valkyrie" was undergoing trials.
In May 1911 the Parliamentary Aerial Defence Committee organised at |Hendon an elaborate demonstration (dominated by French aircraft) to impress upon Members of Parliament and senior officers the military potential of aircraft. For some reason unknown, the organisers told the company that it must not fly during the demonstrations without invitation, and that it was not possible to extend any such invitation.
The company donated four "Valkyries" to the Government. On September 17, 1911, Lieutenant Cammell of the Royal Engineers was flying one of these and made a steep turn without maintaining adequate speed, crashing; the pilot died on his way to hospital.
Barber continued his research and experimental work for a few months but in April 1912 withdrew from active aviation due to increasing costs. The company's aircraft and spares were auctioned on April 24. During the Great War, Barber served in the RCF and RAF as an instructor, inventing several ingenious training aids.
Taken from "The Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps (Military Wing)" by J M Bruce, who notes "[Barber's] country, to which he gave so much, did not recognise or acknowledge in even the most modest way anything that he had done".