Refuelling problem

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A tow back along the Esplanade for Gypsy Moth G-AAYL, refuelled and ready to take off again

The early aviators were brave, carefree individuals, and even as late as 1931 it was quite common for Royal Air Force officers to go for a joyride in a light aircraft, not really knowing what they would find at their chosen destination.

Weekend visit

And so it was that Flying Officer D V Ivan, an Australian, decided to hire a Gypsy Moth in London on 7 February 1931 for a weekend in Jersey. He knew that he could land safely on the beach at West Park, but he did not know what refuelling facilities were available after landing.

As it turned out, there were none, and his aircraft had to be manoeuvred up the slipway at West Park, towed backwards along the Esplanade behind an open-top motor car, with the pilot sitting in the back and holding on tight to the Gypsy Moth's tailplane. Then one wing was folded back to allow the aircraft to be positioned close enough to the petrol pump at Stevenson's Garage in Gloucester Street so that it could be refuelled.

It was then stored in a packing shed overnight and towed back the following morning the way it had come.

The events were reported in Flight Magazine the following week:

"Will this sight become common? A DH Gipsy Moth filling up at a Shell pump in a Jersey street. Jersey has no landing ground, so FO D V Ivan landed on the beach between First Tower and Millbrook, then folded the wings and brought the machine to a local garage, where he had it refuelled from a Shell pump. Aeroplanes do not attract much attention today, but judging from the crowd that gathered about the machine whilst refuelling, the novelty of fuelling a machine in the same way as cars are fuelled aroused considerable local interest."

Aircraft history

The aircraft, registered G-AAYL, was a De Havilland DH 60G Gipsy Moth, owned successively by Miss WE Spooner of Reading, Miss E Battye, Hartley and Cooper, Phillips and Powis Aircraft, North British Aero Club at Dyce. It was impressed into service with the Royal Air Force on 3 August 1940 as BK835 and scrapped at St Athan in 1941. A sad ending for a machine which only ten years earlier had contributed its part to the history of aviation in Jersey.

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