In September 1927 Mario de Bernardi had been representing Italy at the Schneider Trophy in Venice, but was forced to retire his Macchi M.52 racing seaplane due to engine issues. The British won the 1927 competition, but a month later on 4th November 1927, Mario de Bernardi broke the world air speed record in Venice in his Macchi M.52 achieving 479.290 kilometres per hour (297.817 mph) over a course of 3 kilometres (1.9 miles).
Thus began the competition to break the 300mph barrier with the main protagonists being the British World War I flying ace Flight Lieutenant Samuel Marcus ‘Kink’ Kinkead and the Italian Mario de Bernardi.
British Pathe has footage of Samuel Kinkead’s preparations at Calshot
For World’s Air Speed Record – 1928
Full titles read: “For World’s Air Speed Record – The man and the machine… Flight Lt. Kinkead and that “miracle of speed” the Supermarine Napier S.5.” Calshot, Hampshire.
Description: M/S of a small seaplane, the Supermarine Napier S.5, being wheeled out of an aircraft hangar. A man, probably Flight Lieutenant Kinkead, climbs into the cockpit and helps another man to pour petrol in the tank; others check different areas of the plane. Two men check the propellor; Kinkead works the propellor from the cockpit.
Nice M/S of Kinkead standing at the base of his plane. We see him chatting with some other men beside the plane; this seems to be a press conference with reporters, photographers and cameramen standing around the plane. Another shot of the plane being wheeled out, Kinkead filling petrol and talking to reporters.
300 Miles An Hour? – 1928
Full titles read: “300 Miles an hour? – Bad luck mars first attempt of Flight Lt. Kinkead & R.A.F. wonder ‘Plane to beat World record.” Calshot, Hampshire.
Description: M/S of Flight Lieutenant Kinkead climbing into the cockpit of his plane, the Supermarine Napier S.5.; L/S of the plane being wheeled down a ramp into the sea. L/S of the plane picking up speed for takeoff, then slowing down – something is wrong!
L/S of the plane being towed back towards the quay by a boat; Flight Lt Kinkead is seen climbing from the plane and onto the shoulders of a waiting rescue man, standing thigh-deep in the water. The man carries Kinkead on his shoulders to the quayside ramp (oh, the shame!), where he jumps down and walks off – it looks quite comical.
After a further number of failed attempts, including another one captured by British Pathe. Flt. Lt. Kinkead’s seaplane fails at first test prior to air speed record attempt at Calshot, Hampshire
On 12th March 1928, Samuel Kinkead took off in a Supermarine Napier S.5. from RAF Calshot in the New Forest. The nation watched on as he attempted to become the first pilot to break the 300 mph barrier, but the flight was to be his last. As Kink increased his speed and flew low across the water, tragedy struck. The plane inexplicably nosedived, and one of the Great War’s most celebrated pilots died instantly as he struck the water. A verdict of death by misadventure was passed at the inquest into the accident. You can read about Kink’s burial at Fawley on this site here: Samuel Kinkead – Funeral of a WWII Flying Ace
British Pathe have some footage on their website showing ‘The exclusive pictures of the actual departure from Calshot of Flt. Lt. Kinkead on the attempt to break the world’s record which ended in the tragic death of the gallant airman.’
The 300mph Barrier
Mario de Bernardi went on to set yet another world speed record on 30th March 1928, flying a Macchi M.52R racing seaplane 512.776 kilometres per hour (318.624 mph) at Venice, becoming both the first person to exceed 500 kilometres per hour (310 mph) and the first person to exceed 300 miles per hour (480 km/h).
Later in 1928 Flying Officer David D”Arcy Alexander Greig of the British High Speed Flight raised the World Air Speed Record to 319.57 mph in the Supermarine S5
World’s Air Speed Record – 1928
Full titles: “World’s Air Speed Record for Britain? – Flight-Lieut. d’Arcy Greig, in his “Flying Bullet” the tiny Super-Marine seaplane, travels over six miles a minute in first tests.” Calshot, Hampshire.
Description: M/S of Flight Lieutenant D’Arcy Greig, in his RAF uniform. M/S of the seaplane being wheeled out of an aircraft hangar and worked on by men prior to the takeoff. M/S of Greig getting into the cockpit, wearing flying gear. The plane is wheeled down a ramp and into the sea at Calshot.
L/Ss of the plane starting off and moving across the water; we don’t see it actually take off – the next shot shows the plane flying through the air. M/Ss of the plane on the water again, as Greig gets out of the cockpit and the plane is brought in towards the ramp by some men. Greig climbs onto the shoulders of one of the men and is carried to dry land; he looks quite happy.
319.5 MPH – 1928
Item title reads – 319 1/2 miles an hour! Flight Lieutenant D’Arcy Greig reaches highest speed ever flown and wins for Britain honour of building world’s fastest aeroplane. Calshot, Hampshire.
Intertitle – ‘The Pathe Gazette leaves nothing to chance! For 43 days our cameraman waited at Calshot to obtain these history making pictures.’ L/S as the aeroplane taxis over the sea. M/S as Greig is carried up the ramp and applauded. C/U profile of him talking. L/S of the aeroplane
Description: Various shots of the aeroplane on land. M/S of Greig in the pilot’s seat, various shots as the propellor turns. M/S as it speeds across the water before taking off. L/S as it passes the ‘Aquitania’ ship, L/S as the aeroplane takes off. Various shots of Greig in pilot’s seat. L/S as the aeroplane flies through the air. M/S as it is wheeled out of the hangar. M/S of him stood in front of it. C/U of him in Royal Air Force uniform. M/S as he climbs into pilot’s seat.
M/S of aeroplane taxiing across water. M/S as he climbs out when the boat is on the water, someone carries him to shore on their shoulders. M/S of him in aeroplane again, it is pushed out and speeds off over the water. Various shots of men pushing it. M/S as it is wheeled into the sea and pulled along by a boat. Various shots of the aeroplane in action. M/S as Greig is given three cheers by fellow airmen. L/S of aeroplane flying and on the water. M/S of Greig stood up in it, he steps out and is carried across to shore again. Various shots of him, he laughs. Various shots of the aeroplane on the sea and at take off.
Note: the latter part of this item appears to be cuts.