Captain Cecil Howard Pixton (1885 – 1972)
Howard Pixton (nicknamed Pixie, Pick, Picky Pixton or HP) was Chief Instructor at the A.V. Roe & Company’s (‘Avro’) Flying School, Brooklands, where he watched Waterbird being test-flown. Pixton held Royal Aero Club Aviator’s Certificate No. 50, was the first to fly one of Alliott Verdon Roe’s aeroplanes apart from himself, and became Avro’s first Chief Test Pilot.
In a booklet entitled The Brooklands Story 1910/11, Pixton wrote that 1911 was an eventful year for Avro, including selling a Curtiss-type biplane to Edward Wakefield who took one of the best Avro pupils – Herbert Stanley Adams – as pilot on Windermere.
His pupils included Oscar Gnosspelius, in February 1911 for straight and level flights, Ronald Kemp, who undertook Waterbird’s first test flight at Brooklands and flew Gnosspelius No. 2 at Windermere, and Sydney Sippe (later Major), who made the first successful flight from seawater in Britain at Barrow-in-Furness on 2 April 1912 in an Avro D.
Pixton flew the prototype Avro D at Brooklands on 1 April 1911 and, following a demonstration flight, sold it to Commander (later Air Vice-Marshal Sir) Oliver Schwann. Schwann took off from Cavendish Dock at Barrow on 18 November 1911, but crashed on alighting.
In 1914, Pixton became the first Briton to win the annual seaplane Schneider Trophy, at Monte Carlo. Jacques Schneider presented the Trophy; who shared the same great-grandfather as Henry Schneider, a Barrow-in-Furness industrialist. Henry Schneider lived at Belsfield (now a Hotel), Bowness-on-Windermere during 1869-1887, for whom steam launch Esperance was built.
After serving in the Royal Flying Corps/ Royal Air Force during World War 1, and having from June 1910 to 1918 flown or test-flown about 80 types and about 3,500 hours, Pixton joined the Avro Transport Company. He leased the hangar at Cockshott, Windermere from Wakefield. Between 21 July and October 1919 when the seaplane season finished, he operated two Avro 504s (see photo above) for joyriding, instruction, delivering newspapers to Douglas, the Isle of Man and also carrying passengers at a fare of 10 guineas.
Pixton settled in Windermere, and started a motor garage business at the hangar premises. For the next 8 years, he sold cars, motorbikes and petrol, providing motor engineering services, a taxi service from Windermere station and summer coach tours.