In 1912 Horace Short designed, and the Short Brothers factory produced, Britain’s first seaplane, the SHORT S80.
Horace developed the hydro-aeroplane idea so that take off could be not only on water but on land and the aircraft would carry passengers.
Frank McClean responded to a challenge by the French National Air League to test the viability of long-distance air travel and decided to follow the course of the River Nile in Egypt from Alexandria to Khartoum. The trip was to be in a Short S80.
November 1913 saw the Nile machine in trials, first with wheels at EASTCHURCH and then with floats at Harty Ferry on the River Swale. It was built so that the wings could fold back alongside the fuselage for convenience in storing or transporting the machine.
After the trials it was ‘taken down’, crated and sent by ship to Alexandria. It was reassembled in December 1913.
The beginning of the great adventure when the S80 was assembled at Alexandria on the 13th December 1913. On 3rd January 1914, Frank McClean, Alex Ogilvie and Horace Short accompanied by mechanic Gus Smith set off from Alexandria to Cairo on the journey that was to be in a series of short hops to prearranged fuel depots.
Thirteen breakdowns with extended delays waiting for spares from England meant that the flight took almost three months.
The ‘team’ who took the machine to Egypt. Horace on the left.
The assembled S80 on the Nile at Cairo 3rd-4th January 1914.
The Nile seaplane beached at Debba on 24th. February 1914.