Hills & Sons / Hillson
F.Hills & Sons Ltd was formed by Francis Hills in 1849 as a one-man joinery company in Yarm on Tees. Cooper and Walter Hills (grandsons of Francis) took over in 1907, and during the First World War, the company made ammunition boxes and joinery for the Forces. In 1921, Hills became a limited company, and in 1923, moved to larger premises in Stocton. The company began making aeroplanes after Managing Director W.R.Chown, who was interested in aircraft development, visited Prague, Czechoslovakia to obtain a license to produce the Praga E.114 Air Baby two-seat lightplane. Thirty were manufactured from 1936, known as Hillson Pragas. Following this, he purchased the old Ford Motor Company premisis in Trafford Park, Manchester, for joinery and aircraft production.
The first aircraft built by Hills was a Pou du Ciel, an HM.14 Flying Flea. The aircraft was registered G-ADOU in October 1935, and test flown at Barton Aerodrome.
The first licence-built Praga E.114 was sold to Australia, and the second registered G-AEEU became the company’s demonstrator in April 1936. Total production by Hills amounted to twenty-eight aircraft, plus seven uncompleted.
There followed two-one-off Hillson light aircraft, both designed by Norman ykes: the Pennine, a two seat, side by side, high wing monoplane, registered G-AFBX but not flown before the outbreak of war; the Helvellyn G-AFKT, an open cockpit, tandem, two seater, low wing monoplane was built and flown in 1939.
During 1938-39, Hills built Anson wings and laminated spars for Airspeed Oxfords. During the war, the company produced no less than 480.000 JABLO propeller blades and 10 million square feet of aeronautical plywood for Mosquito and other aircraft.
In addition the company produced more than 800 Percival Proctors and the slip-wing Hawker Hurricane I, after first buillding and testing a research aircraft called the Hillson Bi-mono. An expendable slip-wing was mounted above the fuselage in order to obtain more lift for operating out of small fields and to enable the aircraft to take off at greater than normal gross weight. Once airborne, the wing could be released by the pilot.