Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group

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Captain Haydn Sanders

Aviation's Unknown Genius?

Suffolk's first manned flight in a powered heavier-than-air machine took place in around September 1909, when Captain Haydn Sanders, a merchant marine officer, successfully lifted his Sanders No1 Biplane off the Benacre Denes near Lowestoft.

Little is known regarding the distance flown, the handling characteristics of the aircraft or indeed how Sanders himself coped with his first pioneering flight.

After writing off the No1 in a crash on the Denes in early 1910 - in which he narrowly escaped serious injury - by the end of that year Sanders had produced a new biplane, which he called his Type 1 - No 1, a radically altered design which would evolve through at least three versions before Sanders finally gave up his gallant attempts at flight in around 1913.

While researching an upcoming book on Captain Sanders, Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group has uncovered a rich legacy of pioneering aviation related innovations and ideas developed by this most private of men. While a few of these, with the benefit of modern knowledge, can perhaps now be considered as based on flawed science, others can genuinely lay claim to being the first known examples of their type; and in at least one case to contest accepted aviation history.

The Sanders Teacher Project

Perhaps the best known of Captain Sanders' innovations was the Teacher, considered by some to be the world's first real flight simulator. Essentially a simple aeroplane fixed to the ground by a universal coupling, like many of his ideas, there is very little information regarding the detailed construction of this fascinating machine.

However, in 2010 it was realised that the in-depth and ongoing research carried out by Suffolk Aviation Heritage Group had accrued sufficient information about the Sanders Teacher to consider the feasibility of reproducing a full size working model.

Subsequently, the Sanders Teacher Project is expected to start its workshop phase in around July 2017. Progress on the replica machine - which will be produced using modern materials - is expected to be open for public viewing at the Museum during normal opening hours; and updates will be posted in the News section of this website.

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