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British Industrial History

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(Maxine) Blossom Miles

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Engraver, costume designer, gardener and aircraft designer.

1901 19 October: Maxine Frances Mary was born, daughter of Sir Johnston Forbes Robertson (1853–1937), actor and theatre manager, and (Mary) Gertrude Dermot (1874–1950), an American actress.

1919 She was presented as a debutante. On some occasions she appeared on stage with other members of her family.

1924 Married Inigo Freeman-Thomas, who later became 2nd Marquess of Willingdon.

1930 She and her husband joined the Southern Aero Club. Their flying instructor was Frederick George Miles.

1931 The couple were having a low-wing monoplane built at Shoreham airport; they planned to fly to India, where Freeman-Thomas's father was Viceroy.

1932 Her husband divorced Blossom, citing Miles as co-respondent. Soon afterwards Fred and Blossom married. Together they designed the Miles M1 Satyr, a single-seat biplane which was built for them by George Parnall and Co[1]. Miles and Blossom had one son and one daughter.

Blossom displayed a largely intuitive understanding of aircraft behaviour in their designs; she performed the stress analysis for the Hawk and contributed to other designs up to the Magister.

Following the success of the Hawk, they joined Phillips and Powis Aircraft, where Fred became technical director and chief designer

1935 Frederick Miles decided to fly one of his own machines in the King's Cup air race only 2 months before the event. Blossom was responsible for redesigning a Hawk, and chasing it through production. The same plane was reconstructed 22 years later as the Sparrowhawk, the first jet plane to win the King's Cup.

1938 One of 5 Commissioners of the Civil Air Guard, established in July 1938 to encourage and subsidise pilot training.

WWII Blossom returned briefly to the theatre, designing costumes for a revival of the show Berkeley Square at the Vaudeville theatre in London. With her husband she also established the Miles Aeronautical School for young employees at Woodley.


1984 Died

See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Flight, 28 August 1976
  • Obituary The Times, Apr 26, 1984
  • Biography of Frederick Miles. ODNB [1]
  • Wikipedia [2]