Major Oscar Theodor Gnosspelius (1878-1953)

Oscar Gnosspelius was an aviation pioneer, the only person at Windermere to design and fly his own hydro-aeroplane.

Having attended the Blackpool Aviation Meeting in 1909, Gnosspelius began the task of designing an aeroplane which was capable of taking off from water. His motive was that it would be more sensible to use freely available water than expensive land.

His first design, Gnosspelius No. 1, was not successful.

Together with Edward Wakefield, in 1910 he visited Henri Fabre at Paris who that year made the world’s first flight from water.

Following instruction at the Avro Flying School at Brooklands, where he learned to fly straight and level, on 25 November 1911 Gnosspelius became the first person to take off from Windermere, in Gnosspelius No. 2. However, a wingtip dug into the water causing the aircraft to flip over on to its back. Nevertheless, he did succeed on 13 February 1912.

His designs included Waterhen (the immediate successor to Waterbird), the Lakes Monoplane the wings for Seabird and the float for the Avro 501.

Gnosspelius joined the Royal Naval Air Service in 1914, ultimately being engaged by Short Brothers in 1922 to take charge of their experimental department. Despite departing Shorts in 1925, he took part on many test flights into the 1930s.

Windermere: birthplace of British naval and civil marine aeroplanes

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