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Francis Thomas Courtney (1894-1982) spent 50 years in aviation, starting in 1913, and was one of the first test pilots.
1894 August 6th. Born in London.
Started work in a bank, but a fascination with flying led him to obtain an apprenticeship at the works of Claude Grahame-White, starting in 1913 at the age of 18.
He flew in combat in France during WW1.
In 1928 he attempted to fly west across the Atlantic, from Lisbon via the Azores, in a Dornier seaplane, but had to put down in a storm when one engine caught fire due to a leaking fuel pipe. He and the crew were rescued by the liner Minnewaska and taken to New York. The floating Dornier was picked up by the Italian freighter Valprato and taken to Montreal.
He wrote a facinating autobiography, 'Flight Path' by Frank T. Courtney, published by William Kimber in 1973.
1982 Died in California