Leslie Everett Baynes was born in Barnes, Surrey, on 23
March 1902, the son of James and Florence Baynes, and was one of Britain’s most talented designers. Baynes originally
started work in the aircraft industry in 1916 with the Airco at Hendon, working as a junior on the DH.4. On the dissolution of Airco in 1920, Baynes, unlike many of his co-workers, did
not move on to the new de Havilland concern but took a job with Searbrook Brothers in London, working on car design. However, he still retained involvement with
the aircraft design; in 1921 he patented a variable pitch propeller (Patent No. GB183011, published 20 July 1922).
In 1924 Baynes returned to the aircraft industry, obtaining employment with Short Bros. Ltd. at Rochester, where he worked on a variety of projects both as draughtsman and stress analyst. In 1927 Baynes designed a
two seat high wing monoplane. Failing to get financial backing, he left Shorts Brothers and went to work for Blackburn at Brough and then in 1929 moved to Cirrus Engines Ltd at Croydon.
On 22 September 1930, Baynes, in conjunction with F.W.J. Grant, founder of Surrey Flying Services, Brant Aircraft Ltd (being a conjoining of the names Baynes and Grant) at Waddon Aircraft Factory, Stafford Rd, Wallington, Surrey,primarily
to produce an aircraft of Baynes' design to take the Sidarblen C.I. oil engine. This was being developed at Croydon by Sidarblen
Engines, Ltd., a company originally formed by Lt. Col. Barrett-Lennard and Lt. Col. Ormonde Darby to develop a C.I. oil aero
engine to A.A. Sidney's patents and design. Sidney, a director of Sidarblen Engines, Ltd., and who at one time had been manager
and engine designer at Beardmore's in connection with oil and petrol engine development became chairman of Brant
Aircraft, Ltd. Nothing became of this venture, but during this time Baynes designed and built the first Scud glider,
the prototype of which was built by Brant at the Waddon factory.
In 1931, Abbott-Baynes Sailplanes
Ltd, of Farnham, Surrey, was founded as a subsidiary of E.D. Abbott Ltd by Baynes and Edward Abbott and all further Scud I sailplanes were built by them. The Scud II followed in 1932 and, in 1935,
one flown by Mungo Buxton took the British Height Record for a glider to 8,750 feet. In 1933, Abbott and Baynes joined with
Herbert Gardner Travers to design a unique swing wing trainer, though the project progressed no further. Other projects undertaken
by Abbott-Baynes included building replicas for the Alexander Korda film "The Conquest Of The Air" in 1935.
In 1935, Sir John Carden requested a sailplane which could be launched unaided and suggested a retractable engine,
to which Baynes obliged. He designed a new sailplane, the Scud III, which, when fitted with a Villiers engine, was called
Carden-Baynes Auxiliary. Construction was still undertaken by Abbott, by now operating as Abbott-Baynes Aircraft Ltd.
Sir John Carden had established Carden Aero Engines Ltd., also at Heston, in 1935. He saw a need for a cheap
low powered propulsion unit for ultralight aircraft. The engine was an adaptation of the well proven and reliable Ford 10
Model C motor car engine uprated from 10 bhp to 31 bhp. Also in 1935, Abbott-Baynes took part in the Flying Flea movement
by launching the Abbott-Baynes Cantilever Pou, a much modified version of the Henri Mignet Pou-de-Ciel, powered by the Carden-Ford
engine. Although very promising, the ban on all Flying Fleas brought an end to the program and the company ceased trading
as Abbott-Baynes the same year.
Following the death of Sir John in an air accident in December 1935, Baynes formed
Carden-Baynes Aircraft Ltd at Heston in 1936 to continue work they had begun for a new two seat light plane,
based on the earlier Abbott-Baynes-Travers project. Carden Aero Engines Ltd was also taken over by the new company but later
sold to Chilton Aircraft Ltd. The aircraft emerged in 1936 as the Bee, a small two-seat high-wing monoplane with two Carden Ford S.P.1 engines. Unfortunately,
finance dried up and Carden-Baynes went into receivership in June 1937. Lord Weir proposed an amalgamation of Carden-Baynes
with Kay Gyroplanes Ltd, and in July a new company, the Scottish Aircraft Construction Ltd, bought the rights to the Bee, along with the rights to the Kay Gyroplane, but nothing further came of this venture. Baynes
carried on with the design of a three-seater, the B.4, and to this end formed Baynes Aircraft in November
1937, but development was halted by war. Also in 1937, Baynes designed the first “convertiplane”, preceding the
V-22 Osprey by some 50 years.
From 1939 to 1954, Baynes was the chief designer to the Alan Muntz Company of Heston,
and he organized the aircraft division, Alan Muntz & Co Ltd (Aircraft Division). In 1941, he put up a proposal for a detachable
wing with a 100-foot wingspan which when attached to a tank would turn it into a glider. This concept was developed as far
as the Baynes Bat prototype, designed by Baynes along with Richard Becker and Viv Billings. Since Muntz had no construction
facilities, the glider was built by Slingsby. Prewar, Muntz had acquired the rights to the Pescara generating system, from which he developed the Pescara-Muntz P.42 gas
generator. In 1939, Baynes designed both a flying boat and a fighter using this powerplant. The Turbinlite airborne searchlight
system, conceived by Sidney Cotton and William Helmore, was also developed at Alan Muntz under the same design team of Baynes,
Becker and Billings.
After the war, Baynes designed a high-lift research aircraft to test the flap system devised
by Robert Talbot Youngman of the Fairey Aviation Company, the aircraft being known as the Youngman-Baynes High-Lift and was built by the Heston Aircraft Company. In the late 1940s and early 1950s, he was busy with research in the area of variable-sweep supersonic aircraft.
In 1954, Baynes set up Baynes Aircraft Interiors Ltd., a subsidiary of the Alan Muntz Company, located at Langley, later
moving to Bournmouth. Baynes artistic flair was put to good use and the company received many contracts, notable from Bristol.
Despite the company name, Baynes was still applying his skills to all aspects of aircraft design as witnessed by patents for
aerial targets amongst others.
Baynes died at Swanage, Dorset, on 13 March 1989.
March to June, Sept. 1992
British Gliders and Sailplanes 1922-1970, Norman Ellison (Adam and Charles Black,
British Light Aeroplanes, Arthur W.J.G. Ord-Hume (GMS Enterprises, 2000)
Airwork, A History,
Keith McCloskey, (The History Press, 2012)