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Dover: Lock and Key of the Kingdom

Charles Rolls

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 carried, by a cheering crowd, 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 Front in 1912.
Charles Rolls.  At Dover before his departure on 2 June 1910. Charles Rolls. The plane over Dover Harbour on 2 June 1910.