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Lord Wakefield of Hythe, 1880 to 1941

Lord Wakefield of HytheLord Wakefield of Hythe sincerely believed that the world would benefit from an interest in aviation through the development of aeromodels. In 1911, then Sir Charles Wakefield, held a competition for aeromodels on the grounds of the Crystal Palace. This is a very large arboretum building which had been constructed for the nineteenth century International Exposition near London, England.

For this contest managed by the "Kite and Model Aeroplane Association", Sir Charles had made a sterling silver-gilted cup, standing about 18 inches high. In fact this "Gold Cup" was very similar to the present "Wakefield Cup", and was probably made by the same Master Silversmith in London: Sansom & Creswick. The Wakefield Gold Cup contest of 1911 was won by E W Twining, of London, on July 5, and Sir Charles Wakefield was in attendance to watch the competition, and to present the "Wakefield Gold Cup" to Mr Twining. The aeromodel that Twining flew was a canard. Twining patterned his aeromodel after the theories of the Wright Brothers famous "Flyer", and Santos Dumont. Twining mentioned that the original "Wakefield Gold Cup" was last won by either a Dutch, or Belgium competitor, whose family may still have this trophy. World War I, intervened, and this trophy was lost, but not forgotten. In 1927, now Lord Wakefield of Hythe, was asked by F de P Green of the SMAE if the 1911 "Gold Cup" could again be used for an aeromodelling event, only to learn that the 1911 "Gold Cup" was lost. At this time Lord Wakefield decided to sponsor a new aeromodelling competition. It was then that F de P Green asked the President of the Society of Model Aeronautical Engineers, Sir Sefton Brancker, if the SMAE would be interested in forming a rules committee that would manage a new International Aeromodelling competition. The Governing Board of the SMAE voted to approve the request, and to appoint Mr A F Houlberg, and Dr A P Thurston to head the Wakefield International Trophy Committee. It was through the efforts of these two gentlemen that the Wakefield International Trophy Rules were first formulated. These "Wakefield Cup Rules" were in two parts, the first being the basis for the competition, the General Rules:

  1. The Cup shall be known as "The Wakefield Cup for International Competition".
  2. The Cup will be perpetual and remain the property of the SMAE.
  3. The Cup shall be competed for annually unless the SMAE gives its consent to suspension owing to exceptional conditions. (reference: 1957, when the SMAE protested.)
  4. The Cup shall be awarded to the Society represented by the entrant of the winning model.
  5. Any money prizes shall be awarded to the entrant of the winning model.
  6. Suitable bond for the proper care and return of the Cup shall be required by the SMAE.
  7. All entries shall be made through the Society in each country affiliated to the International Aeronautical Federation (FAI).
  8. There shall be a fee for each entry.
  9. The entrant must be the owner of the model he enters.
  10. No entrant shall enter more than one model.
  11. At least three models must compete, otherwise no competition can be held.
  12. Each Country shall be responsible for the selection of its entrants, six maximum.
  13. The competition shall be held in the open air, in a place approved by the FAI.
  14. The competition shall always be for model aircraft.
  15. The first competition shall be held in Great Britain and successive competitions in the country which last won the Cup.
  16. The rules for each competition shall be made by the SMAE in conjunction with the Society holding the Cup until such time as the formation of an International Committee.
  17. Models may be flown by a proxy appointed by the entrant.
  18. A proxy may be chosen by the Society winning the Cup.

This was followed by part two of the Wakefield Rules, the Specifications:

  1. The (first) competition shall be held in Great Britain subject to rule 13 of the "General Rules".
  2. Each model shall rise from the ground (ROG) from a standstill entirely under its own power.
  3. The competition shall be for the duration of flight, such duration being taken from the time the model is released until it touches some solid obstacle after flight or until passing out of sight (OOS) of the judges.
  4. Each entrant shall be allowed three attempts during the competition. The best of three attempts shall be counted. (High Time)
  5. When called by the judges each model must be ready for flight within three minutes or the entrant shall be liable for disqualification from that round.
  6. Minor adjustments may be made between competition flights but trial flights may only be made with the permission of the judges.
  7. The design of the model is not restricted except that rubber motors, air containers and fuel containers must be concealed and that the fuselage or fuselages be fully covered and conform to the following formula: the minimum value of the maximum cross-sectional area of each fuselage = (length of model from nose to tail) squared divided by 100 = L2/100
  8. Any form of power may be used.
  9. No model must weigh more than eleven pounds avoirdupois.
  10. The decision of the judges shall be final.

The first Wakefield International Cup Contest was held in 1928 at Hendon Aerodrome, near London, England. There is no evidence to indicate that Lord Wakefield of Hythe attended the contest, but knowing how important this contest was to him I would guess that he was there to present the new "Silver Cup". His interest in aeromodelling never waned, and by 1936 when the English team returned from the USA after Albert Judge had won back the Wakefield Cup, Lord Wakefield personally hosted the team at a restaurant in Piccadilly, London. This unflagging, and single minded devotion to aeromodelling by Viscount Lord Wakefield of Hythe must have in some way prepared the many English aeromodellers who flew in the Wakefield Event, to devote their careers to the aviation industry in their country, and in some way added to the survival of their country during World War II, at least that's what I believe. One outstanding example would have to be Robert Copland who died in 1996. Actually Lord Wakefield of Hythe believed fully in friendly international aeromodelling, and the Wakefield International Cup contest has always been that, regardless of those today who admire nationalistic military displays of uniformed marching units waving flags, like at the "Olympics".

Viscount Wakefield of Hythe died in March 1941, at an estimated age of 61 years. While he was living he was referred to as "The Patron Saint of Aviation", a title that he much deserved. He will be loved forever by those who fly in the contests of his namesake. Although today's rules bear little resemblance to the Wakefield Rules that were first written by the SMAE in 1927, the "spirit" of The Event prevails. This spirit, I believe, is present because there are many people still alive today who have been involved in the perpetuation of the Wakefield event from the beginning, Gordon S Light the 1932 and 1935 Wakefield Champion for one. This condition is now in the stage of attrition, and within a few short years it will climax with the fact that there are no longer any survivors left in the world who remember, or even care about history of the Wakefield Cup event. At this stage in time the Wakefield Cup event will be in serious jeopardy.

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