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Post-war survival

First Cross Channel passenger flights

After the war there was a slump in the aircraft industry, military orders stopped and some of the aviation companies that had set up around Solent Water, also faded into the background; Supermarine however was not one of them.  With Scott-Paine at the helm the company bought back most of the AD flying boats that they had built for the RNAS and converted them for civilian use. These aircraft became the Channel Flying Boats.  In 1919 they were used for pleasure flying and charters, flying from Woolston to Southsea, Bournemouth and the Isle of Wight. The Mayors of Southampton and Winchester were among the first passengers. It was this enterprise that kept Supermarine afloat whilst others sank.   

The first commercial passenger Cross-Channel flight occurred during a railway strike in September 1919 and cost the passengers £25 (£687 today) each for a return ticket. For their money the passengers, according to some accounts, got a very uncomfortable journey lasting 5 hours flying against headwinds as they sat out in the open.   One of the pilots recalled later having to hit a passenger on the head to prevent them putting up an umbrella, which could have caught in the propeller. 

[047541] 1924 Supermarine Royal visit

magnify Royal visit to Supermarine

Early in the 1920's Supermarine began to expand steadily. In partnership with A.V.Roe and Beardmore Aero Engines, they took orders for aircraft from a number of foreign governments as well from the UK. They decided to form a company called the Bermuda and West Atlantic Air Services Ltd and under this name two planes were sent to Bermuda to carry out charter and survey work. In 1922 the country's first designated marine airport was established at Woolston with customs and immigration facilities when Scott-Paine registered the British Marine Air Navigation Company (BMANC). A regular service by Sea Eagle to France and the Channel Islands was started. As well as developing new civilian flying boats and commercial operations, Scott-Paine also became interested in competing for the Schneider Trophy. It would be this interest in speed that would launch Supermarine onto the international aviation stage. 


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