Leysdown on Sea – the birthplace of British Aviation

Did you know that Leysdown on Sea was home to the first aircraft-building factory in the World? Or that the first circular mile flight was made at Shellbeach by a British pilot in a British plane that was built on land next to Muswell Manor, in 1909?

2009 marked the 100th Centenary of British Aviation and a Royal Navy flypast took place on 24 July 2009 to mark this historical date in aviation history.

The Royal Navy flypast was the opening event of Sky Sheppey 2009, a weekend of flying displays, events and exhibitions celebrating 100 years of British Aviation.  The formation of aircraft is expected to include both current and historic types, with aircraft from frontline and training squadrons, as well as from the Royal Navy Historic Flight. 

The aircraft flew over Eastchurch and the most significant sites of early aviation history, including Shellbeach in Leysdown, before continuing out to sea to overfly a Royal Navy warship just offshore.

The historic development from balloons and kites to bi-planes and aeroplanes that took place on the Isle of Sheppey between 1908 and 1911 is a remarkable story of courage, initiative, inexhaustible enthusiasm and astonishing feats of endeavour that not only established the important beginnings of the British aviation industry we know today but epitomised the early pioneering spirit of the Fleet Air Arm.