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Grahame-White Lizzie / Tea-tray
 
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The 50-h.p. Grahame-White tractor biplane, “Lizzie” at Hendon, London, UK.
 
The Grahame-White Lizzie was a 1913 Sesqiplane tractor aircraft mating the wings of a Popular built on a Morane-Saulnier fuselage. Also known as the Tea-tray
 
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R Carr at Hendon c 1913
 
Recognized by its very short lower wings, but a modified version appeared in 1914 with two bay wings, giving it a more "conventional" look.
 
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Louis Noel flying at Hendon and his Graham White tractor biplane 18 June 1921
 
A new, hopeful aviator purchased a veteran plane, a 50-h.p. Grahame-White tractor biplane that carried the moniker, “Lizzie”, at Hendon, near London.  The year was 1914, and his intention was to teach himself to fly.  His name was Mr. Charles Walter Graham, the son of Mr. C. K. Graham of 9, Kitson Road, Barnes, Southwest London, England.
 
Soon Mr. Charles W. Graham was out on the field taxiing around to get familiar with the handling of the biplane, no doubt intending to remain on the ground.  “Lizzie”, however, had other ideas, as related in the November 27, 1914, issue of Flight, the newsletter of England’s Royal Aero Club:
 
It appears that a certain enthusiast has bought “Lizzie” with the object of teaching himself to fly, and that last Saturday was to be the dress rehearsal.
 
Starting off from the corner at the top of the ex-half-crown enclosure, a very neat straight roll was accomplished in the direction of No. 4 pylon, with the tail well up.  After some prancing about on the bad ground out by No. 4, “Lizzie” was persuaded to turn back in to the wind, and before anybody had realised what was happening, she shot up in the air at an angle of about 450, the pilot switching on and off all the while.  By some kind whim of fate, which the newspaper correspondents would probably have described as superhuman efforts, “Lizzie” just managed to avoid a tail slide, and proceeded on a comparatively even keel towards No. 1 pylon, whisking her tail from side to side in the friskiest of ways.  The pilot evidently considered this the moment appropriate for coming down, a performance which he seemed likely to accomplish in quite good style, for he descended in a pretty good glide switching on and off, but unfortunately he spoilt it at the last moment by not flattening out sufficiently and by keeping his engine running all out after touching the ground.  The result was that “Lizzie” took matters into her own hands and did a loop the wrong way round, finishing on her back, whilst the pilot was seen to drop out of his seat on to the top plane.  He was up again in a second, however, waving his hands to show the anxious onlookers that he was none the worse for his “spill.”  As a fact, the only damage done was a broken propeller and a bent shaft.  It is to be hoped that “Lizzie” will soon be out of hospital again, since her owner is evidently made of the right stuff, and should, with a little patience, turn out a good pilot.  Most initiates would certainly have made a worse job of it than he did.
 
 On Christmas Day in 1914, Flight carried yet one more mention of “Lizzie” and Mr. C. W. Graham, who was attending a flight school at that point, having abandoned the idea of teaching himself:
 
At the Hall school several new machines will be put into commission shortly, among others a two-seater biplane that will have dual controls.  This firm has been repairing “Lizzie,” after her little spill recently, and she is now almost ready to take the air again, and looks as well as ever.  While awaiting her return from “hospital,” “Lizzie’s” owner is getting a little preliminary experience on the dual-control two-seater Caudron biplane of the Ruffy school, so as to get used to the handling before taking “Lizzie” out again.
 
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Span top: 28'6"
Span bottom: 14"
Length: 21'10"
AUW: 850 lb
Speed: 65 mph

 

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