Kingston Aviation

Fred Sigrist and the Tabloid

On the death of Fred Sigrist, Sir Thomas Sopwith wrote a letter to The Times in tribute to his former colleague and Chief Engineer. In it he recalled the following incident of how the company had worked in 1914 -:

“The most remarkable story of how we used to work in those occurred with the ‘Tabloid’. We had decided to modify one of the 12 aeroplanes ordered for the R.F.C. and enter it in the Schneider Trophy. In its original form this aeroplane had one central float which was installed too far aft. Three days before we were due to ship it to Monte Carlo it had not flown. Howard Pixton was the pilot and on the first attempt to fly, at Hamble, the machine cartwheeled over on its nose and sank. Fred Sigrist salvaged the aeroplane at break of day next morning, took it to Kingston by road, sawed the single float into two, built two new sides and installed a twin-float chassis. We then took the aeroplane to the River Thames at Teddington and , without permission, flew it off successfully. From the time it was at the bottom of the Hamble River until it was airborne again was less than three days. This was mainly Fred Sigrist’s handiwork.”

The Sopwith Tabloid went on to trounce all the competition in the 1914 Schneider Trophy and for the first time really put British aviation on the international map.

Source: Sopwith, Thomas (1957) Letter to the Times, 14 December 1957