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Army airship is a popular attraction in Haywards Heath

Updated: Oct 18, 2020

The Mid Sussex Times - Tuesday, September 16 1913




Crowds quickly gathered in many parts of Central Sussex on Saturday at the sudden unexpected appearance of his majesties airship “Eta”. The cry “Here comes an Airship”, was quite sufficient to empty the houses, shops and offices of all earthly mortals who do not aspire to great Heights–and indeed, of those who do. In little and large groups they stood, with fluttering hearts and excited minds, gazing wonderingly at the great cigar shaped visitor, gliding majestically along overhead.

There has not been such a site since the “Gamma” descended on Lindfield Common in the Spring of last year and receive such a wholehearted welcome from the villagers. The “Eta”, a fine new army airship, sailed from Aldershot, and came over Haywards Heath at ten minutes past nine in the morning.

Nature was in her ecstasy. Far from resenting the wrestling of her secrets and the encroachment in her domain, she gave the “peaceful warriors” a perfect morning, with a blue sky, glorious sunshine, and a breeze so gentle as to be scarcely felt. Haywards Heathens were among the pioneers of Sussex to interest themselves in aviation, and they still cherish memories of Mr Gordon England, Mr Pixton, Mr Oscar Morison and Mr Gilmore, as the “Eta” had a cordial, though silent greeting from the townspeople.

Flying somewhat low, and in the sunlight, she showed off her beauty to a nicety. She appeared to be following the railway line: she was a click-clicking and a hum-humming with a rare pride and animation, how tiny human forms appearing like adults in the pretty picture; and she gracefully steered and veered away to the south. On and on she went, a little to the left of the spot where Mr Morison accidentally came down in a wood in his Bristol biplane on May 9th 1911, then towards freaks farm, where the aviator named descended for petrol on the evening prior to that date, and over Burgess Hill. The course taken there was over the length of Mill Road, on towards Hassocks, and, soaring over the South Downs, to Brighton. On reaching the seafront the vessel turned westward, went over Worthing and Portsmouth, and then disappeared in a north easterly direction, getting back to starting point. It was a successful trial flight all eight hours duration.


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