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Test flying the Brabazon

Since early morning on Sunday September 4th 1949 crowds had been gathering at all the vantage points around the airfield as well as the enclosures set up on the airfield for factory personnel and families. Over 10,000 were there to watch A J (Bill) Pegg complete his morning taxi tests. He was a consummate professional and he ensured everything was in order.

By 10.00 am Bill Pegg had completed taxi tests along the runway, all the levels were rechecked and the aircraft was cleared to fly.

On the next taxi run Bill Pegg decided to go, and the greatest aeroplane ever produced in Britain, became airborne. "Good God - it works!" he is claimed to have said. This followed some of the remarks from commentators alarmed at the escalating costs, then at around £11,000,000, saying it was too big and would never fly.

The aircraft needed only a quarter of the 2750-yard extended runway before lifting off for an initial flight of only 27 minutes. The co-pilot, and the only other pilot to captain a Brabazon was Walter Gibb, smiled. The crowds on the ground cheered and the story was transmitted around the globe on what was one of the first uses of live outside broadcasting after the war.

In an era devoid of good news, such was the value of this aircraft, that the Queen was introduced to the crew and all the newspapers ran stories about the event. Some 250 newspaper reporters and photographers, broadcasting television and newsreel staff men were on hand, more than had ever before assembled in Bristol for a single event

The BBC broadcast the event simultaneosly in eight languages, such was the impact of this new aircraft on the world stage. Filton would get used to this phenomenum.

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This is page 7 of The Bristol Brabazon - Engineering masterpiece or Great White Elephant.
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The Brabazon on taxi trials, prior to her maiden flight.

The Brabazon on taxi trials, prior to her maiden flight.
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Brabazon and 'in flight' artists impression

Brabazon and 'in flight' artists impression
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The Brabazon comes into land at Filton following a test flight

The Brabazon comes into land at Filton following a test flight
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