When the pioneer pilot found himself test flying an aircraft in the skies near to the Kaiser’s yacht, he could not resist the temptation to swoop down and “buzz” it, despite orders for all aircraft to stay out of the area. Not only that, he then ascended at full throttle to fly over a passing Zeppelin.
It may read like a plot from a Boy’s Own adventure, but this was actually a real life incident, which earned England a reprimand from the German authorities. It can only be told now, a century later, after the emergence of a previously unpublished account written by the airman himself.
At the time, Gordon England, a self-taught pilot, was demonstrating a seaplane which manufacturer J.S White and Co, from the Isle of Wight, was selling to the German Naval Air Service – a sign of how cordial relations were between the two countries, even in the weeks before the outbreak of the war.