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8th July 1914 – Parkgate pleasure flights by Henri Selmet

July saw the Cheshire Automobile Club arrange for Frenchman Henri Salmet, who was on a publicity tour for
the Daily Mail, to provide the residents of Parkgate with three days of aerial activity. Salmet was no stranger
to this part of the country having landed at the Red Noses, New Brighton in August 1912, and Hooton Park in
1913.

His Gnome powered Bleriot monoplane arrived, by lorry, at Leighton Park, on the eighth. A canvas marquee
had been specially erected to house the aircraft. On his first flight, Salmet took up his host, Mr A.G. Grenfell,
the headmaster of Mostyn House School. Grenfell is reputed to have thrown a bottle of champagne out of the
aircraft, giving the Territorial Army on summer camp in Parks Field, their first taste of “aerial bombardment”.
Salmet made two other flights that day. The following day, a large number of residents gathered on the
promenade and adjoining fields to watch Salmet giving flights. He started flying at 11am and continued until
8.30pm in the evening.

Passengers were being taken up at two guineas (£2.10p) a time. There was also a free flight draw. The
winner was a Mr Muir who had bought the ticket for his son Eric. This proved to be a problem in that Eric was
5 years old and it was obviously not possible for Eric to take his place in the passenger seat of the aircraft.
Eric’s father was offered £3 for the ticket, but refused to sell it. Henri Salmet was advised of this and agreed
to take both Eric and his father up. They had a long flight over The Wirral and when they landed, Eric who
must have been the youngest person to fly on The Wirral, said, “It was Champion”. He received a certificate
and said that he wanted to be a “Flying man” when he grow up.
In July 1914 Henri Selmet made his 3rd visit to Wirral in his Bleriot monoplane, which was delivered by lorry to Leighton in
to have dropped a bottle of champagne on the territorial army at summer camp in the park fields.  Their first taste of aerial
bombardment.   
Conditions had been windy and Salmet indicated that things were “A little tricky” in the afternoon. In order to
bring a little excitement to the crowd, Salmet dived in the direction of the assembled crowd, which caused
some of them to scatter with much laughter as he flew over them. By the end of the day, he had made
nineteen flights. On the last day, trouble with his engine, an 80hp seven-cylinder Gnome limited his activity.
He had to seek help from Mr Ellis the mechanic at Mostyn House who normally ran the school’s electric light
plant.