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Thomas Sopwith
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    (January 18, 1888-January 27, 1989)
    Born in London, England, United Kingdom
    Aviation pioneer and aircraft designer
    Established the Sopwith School of Flying at Brooklands (1910)
    Owner and chief operator of the Sopwith Aviation Company (established June 1912)
    World War I airplanes designed include the Sopwith Camel, Pup, Triplane, Snipe, Dolphin and Salamander
    Post-World War I military aircraft designed include the Fury, Audax, Hart, Nimrod, Hurricane and Meteor
    Knighted in 1953
    Died of natural causes in Hampshire at age 101
    Biography titled 'Pure Luck' by Alan Bramson, with a foreword by Prince Charles Windsor (1991)
    He had two middle names - Thomas Octave Murdoch Sopwith.
    When he was 10 years old, a gun he had in his lap discharged, killing his father and scarring him for life.
    He made his first flight at age 22 (October 22, 1910), and promptly crashed after traveling 300 yards (he was not injured).
    After World War I, he tried his hand at building motorcycles, and failed.
    By 1920, anti-profiteering taxes bankrupted him and he dissolved the Sopwith Aviation Company.
    In 1910, as goalie for the Great Britain national ice hockey team, he won the gold medal at the first ever European Championships (early version of the Ice Hockey World Championships).
    Besides aviation, he was a skilled yachtsman, auto racer and balloonist.
    Two months after his first crash, he won a £4,000 prize for the longest flight in a British built aeroplane, traveling 169 miles in 3 hours 40 minutes.
    His Sopwith Camel was the plane that finally took down Germany's famed Manfred von Richtofen, aka the Red Baron.
    The plane is prominently mentioned in the 'Peanuts' comic strip, as Snoopy had imaginary fights with the Red Baron, labeling his doghouse the Sopwith Camel.
    Teaming up with his chief engineer and test pilot, Harry Hawker, he formed Hawker Aircraft, which merged in 1934 to become the successful Hawker Siddeley Aircraft Co.
    Without benefit of a government contract, he designed the Hawker Hurricane, the aircraft credited with securing England's victory over Germany in World War II's 1940 'Battle of Britain.'
    He worked with Hawker Siddeley as late as 1980 (age 92), as a consultant.
    On his 100th birthday, the Royal Air Force staged a flypast of military aircraft over his home, including several Sopwith airplanes.

Credit: Scar Tactics

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