George Challenger

(1881 - 1947)

George Henry Challenger was born on 3 June 1881 at Neath in Glamorganshire, Wales, the son of Charles Challenger and Emily Challenger (née Foster).

Challenger was originally employed as an engineer at Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company, where his father was Chief Engineer.

With the formation of the British and Colonial Aeroplane Company in 1910 which started with leased premises from the Bristol Tramways and Carriage Company Challenger moved across to the new aeroplane company as works manager and engineer.

After seeing detailed drawings of the Farman III in Flight magazine, Challenger told Sir George White, chairman of British and Colonial Aeroplane Company, that he was pretty sure he could build a copy of the plane. White told Challenger to go ahead and a few weeks later, the first copy was constructed, using materials from partially built Zodiac aeroplanes. With this, the Bristol Boxkite was born. He went on to design several more aircraft for Bristol, most bearing his name: the Challenger-Grandseigne, Challenger-Low and Challenger-Dickson

With the creation in 1911 of an experimental department, Challenger was sent to Larkhill to learn to fly and on 14 February 1911 he obtained his Royal Aero Club Aviators Certificate (No. 58), flying a Bristol biplane.

However, Challengers time with Bristol did not last much longer. With the formation of an aeronautical division by Vickers, Challenger left Bristol to work for the new company as chief designer and engineer. He was the involved in numerous patents, including those for a ring mounting and a gun synchroniser, both for machine-guns. He resigned from Vickers in 1918, having taken part in designing the many different aircraft types produced during the First World War. In its obituary of him, Flight states that ‘Challenger was an upright man who brought his religious convictions into everyday life’ and perhaps that prompted his resignation from a company that made armaments.

By 1939 Challenger was a village store keeper and Air Warden, living in North Curry, Taunton.

Challenger died on 4 December 1947 at Stoke St. Gregory, near Taunton, Somerset .

Production References
  1. Flight, 15 January 1948

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