THE STAINFORTH MEMORIAL WEATHER VANE IN GREENHILL GARDENS, WEYMOUTH
The “Schneider Trophy” was a prize instituted to spur aircraft development. It came to prominence in the late 1920’s and early 1930’s when prowess in aviation was seen as an indication of a nation’s industrial strength. The competition for the trophy eventually became an out and out test of speed. To compete in these races the RAF formed the High Speed Flight, a team of exceptional pilots of which Flt.Lt. G.H.Stainforth was a member.
The major competing nations were America, Italy, France and Britain who each won it one or more times. It also became a great spectator sport with tens of thousands of people turning out to view the spectacle of airplanes flashing round the course at low altitude at hitherto unbelievable speeds.
The rules of the race were that if a nation won the race on three consecutive occasions they would hold the trophy in perpetuity. This condition was satisfied by Britain in 1931 when it won the race in a Supermarine S6B floatplane at a speed of 340mph, a new World airspeed record. A few weeks later Flt.Lt. G.H.Stainforth flew the aircraft to a new World airspeed record of 407mph. The imposing Schneider Trophy itself can be seen in the Science Museum, London, together with the Supermarine S6B.
The Schneider Trophy races were very significant in advancing aeroplane design in the fields of aerodynamics and aero engines. It was the experience gained in the design of the Schneider Trophy race planes that enabled R.J.Mitchell to go on to design the Supermarine Spitfire. Wing Cdr. G.H.Stainforth was killed in action in the Western Desert in 1942.