On 2 June 1910 the Hon. Charles Rolls,
co-founder of the Rolls-Royce Company, made his historic
flight from Dover to France and back without landing.
He took off from Swingate at 6:28pm, circled the airfield,
which was opposite the Duke of York’s School, climbed to
about 800 feet and soon disappeared from view. At 7:45pm
he was spotted on his return flight, approaching the coast.
He turned and flew across the harbour, passing over the
town at about 1,000 feet. He circled the Castle, flew over
the recently built Bleriot memorial and landed close to
his hangar at 8:00pm. Soldiers and police had to hold back
a 3,000 strong crowd who had witnessed the event. After
describing how he had dropped messages to the French at
Sangatte, he was hoisted shoulder high and by a cheering
crowd and carried back to his car.
The flight, of about sixty miles, won him the Ruinart
Cup presented by the French champagne company. Rolls was
dead one month later, killed at a Bournemouth air show,
and a memorial statue was erected on the Sea