Famous for its motorcycle and car T.T. Races, the Isle of Man was not slow to organise air races which were to develop into important events in the aeronautical calendar, bringing considerable publicity to the Island. The idea originated from the Lancashire Aero Club, a member of which was Kenneth Twemlow, the 1924 Junior T.T. winner, and Howard Pixton of Schneider Trophy fame who had retired to the Island. The idea was received with enthusiasm and support which was forthcoming from the June Effort and Season Extension Committee. Permission was received from the Air Ministry to hold a race meeting using two fields at Ronaldsway providing that the entry was limited to 10 aircraft and that entrants should travel from Blackpool in convoy and be escorted by a flying boat.
Plans were then announced to hold the race on Saturday, June 18, 1932, and a course was mapped out which would bring the aircraft over Douglas Head and northwards to Maughold Head and Bride Church, round which a tight turn was required to head southwards to Peel Castle. To avoid the remote south west coast the course then turned inland to Tynwald Hill, St. John's, before returning to Ronaldsway. Two laps were to be covered, a total of 108 miles. The race would be a handicap event with starting times decided on expected performance of each individual aircraft, all being timed theoretically to complete the race together. The deciding factor would be the skill of the pilot in flying the course against his handicap and prevailing weather conditions.
The convoy of aircraft arriving on Friday was piloted by some of the leading sporting aviators of the day and they included Mrs. Winifred Brown who had won the King's Cup in 1930 and R. F. Hall, a leading exponent of racing light aircraft. Lieut. Monks had intended to put the Cutty Sark to a unique test but it developed engine trouble and had to turn back to Blackpool. The line-up for the race on Saturday afternoon was as follows: Ashley Cook in a Cirrus Moth; G. Clapham in Pob Joy Swift G-AAZC; Miss W. Brown in Sports Avian G-ABED; S. Hawley in Cirrus Avian G-AAEC; K. Twemlow in Cirrus Moth G-ERMQ; R. F. Hall in Hermes Avian G-AAWI; C. S. Napier in Gipsy Widgeon G-AADE; R H. Dobson, Avro Cadet, and Lord Malcolm Douglas Hanulton in a Monocoupe Amphibian.
The race itself was very much a hedge-hopping affair and sitting on trees, which provided plenty of excitement for the spectators who had taken up vantage points round the course. First away was S. Hawley in an Avian with an allowance of 18 mins. 1 second over scratch man, Lord Douglas Hamilton. At the end of two laps it was Ashwell Cook, with Tom Campbell Black as navigator, who came through to win in the Cirrus Moth, averaging 102.5 m.p.h. Second to finish was G. Clapham in the Pob Joy Swift (126 m.p.h.) and third was R.H.Dobson in the Avro Cadet at 120 m.p.h. This was the prototype Cadet which hadn't even been registered and it is interesting to note that Mr. Dobson, A.V. Roe's works manager, had the services of Tommy Rose as navigator.
Ronaldsway had attracted well over a thousand spectators, at a shilling a time, and they were then treated to a display of flour bomb dropping, aerobatics and balloon bursting. It was after the latter that Miss Brown came in too low to land and caught a lady spectator sitting on the hedge. She was hit by the undercarriage and suffered a fractured thigh. Just before the accident she had thrown her two-year old son down to her husband who had jumped off the hedge when she saw the Avian approaching. Their son grew up to be Derek Ennett who worked at Ronaldsway before becoming a professional T.T. rider, riding for the AJ.S. /Matchless team in the mid 'fifties. Apart from this unfortunate incident it had been an exciting afternoon held in perfect weather. At the Presentation that night everyone hoped that similar events would be held in the future.
Manx Aviation in War and Peace published by kind permission of: The Manx Experience