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Edward Teshmaker Busk

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Lieutenant Edward Teshmaker Busk, London Electrical Engineers RE(T) (8 March 1886 - 5 November 1914) was a pioneer of early aircraft design, and the designer of the first full-sized efficient inherently stable aeroplane.

He was the son of Thomas Teshmaker Busk (1852-1894) and Mary Busk née Acworth (1854-1935), of Hermongers, Rudgwick, Sussex. After attaining First Class Honours in Mechanical Sciences at Cambridge he became Assistant Engineer at the newly-formed Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, later the Royal Aircraft Establishment. Here he devoted much of his time to the mathematics and dynamics of stable flight.

Before the invention of mechanical control devices, inherent stability in an aircraft was a most important quality. Busk took his theories into the air and tried them out in practice. As a result, in 1914 the R.E.1 (Reconnaissance Experimental) evolved and was claimed as the first inherently stable aeroplane.

The remarkable feature of this design was that there was no single device that was the cause of the stability. The stable result was attributed to detailed design of each part of the aeroplane, with due regard to its relation to, and effect on, other parts in the air. Weights and areas were so arranged that under practically any conditions the machine tended to right itself.

On the 5th November 1914 Busk was killed while flying his B.E.2c, which burst into flames and came down at Laffans Plain (now Farnborough Airfield), near Aldershot. He was buried at Aldershot Military Cemetery with full military honours.

His work at the Royal Aircraft Factory was taken on by R. H. Mayo.

His genius and his courage were recognised by the posthumous award of the Gold Medal of the Aeronautical Society of Great Britain, and amongst the many letters of condolence received by his mother was one from King George V.

His youngest brother, Hans Acworth Busk (b.1894), was reported missing on 6 January 1916, last seen flying a heavy bombing aeroplane against the Turks at Gallipoli. They were both survived by their mother, by sister Mary Agnes Dorothea Morse (1888-1960) (author of "E.T. Busk, a pioneer in flight") and by brother Henry Gould Busk (1890-1956).

1915 Obituary [1]

EDWARD TESHMAKER BUSK was born at Winchmore Hill, Middlesex, on 8th March 1886.

He was educated at Bilton Grange School and at Harrow, and followed a three years' course of engineering at the University of Cambridge, taking the First Class Mechanical Sciences Tripos.

In 1909 he started an apprenticeship of two years with Messrs. J. and E. Hall, Dartford, and in 1912 became assistant engineer in charge of Physical Experimental Work at the Royal Aircraft Factory, South Farnborough. It was in this capacity that he devised several valuable improvements in the mechanism of aeroplanes and the disposition of their parts tending to complete stability without material loss of efficiency.

By the autumn of 1913 he had carried his researches so far that any aeroplane built to his design would give such a result, and in November 1913 was for the first tune able to snake uncontrolled flights of several hours' duration in winds up to thirty-eight miles an hour. On one occasion Colonel Seely, the then Secretary of State for War, was his passenger, and he later made demonstration flights before the King and Queen. After flying with Colonel Sykes, the Commanding Officer of the Royal Flying Corps, from the Royal Aircraft Factory, Farnborough, to Salisbury Plain and back, both passenger and flyer leaving the aeroplane to control itself whilst they wrote notes throughout the journey, he persuaded the authorities to take the matter up as having been tested and demonstrated in practical form.

Mr. Busk was flying his own stable aeroplane at Aldershot, when, on 5th November 1914, it caught fire in the air, causing his death, in his twenty-ninth year.

He had in 1911 received a Commission as 2nd Lieutenant in the London Electrical Engineers, Territorials.

He was elected an Associate Member of this Institution in 1914.

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