|Born||Norman William George Blackburn
25 May 1896
Leeds, Yorkshire, England
|Died||27 January 1966
Bridlington, Yorkshire, England
|Occupation||Director Blackburn Aircraft|
|Known for||aviation pioneer, businessman|
World War I
He saw action as a pilot in the First World War in the RNAS, qualifying on 5 June 1915 as Flight Sub-Lieutenant at the Grahame-White Flying School at Hendon. He served on the East Coast patrol "chasing Zeppelins", flying, among other aircraft, the Curtiss Reconnaissance Biplane and Kangaroo bomber. On 22 July 1916 he was forced to land due to thick mist in the Vale of York, he did so near Northallerton without incident but crashed when attempting to take off after the fog cleared. The aircraft overturned and was badly damaged as a result. He was injured in service in the weeks before October 1916. On 9 December 1917 he married Annie Haigh at Roundhay Congregational Church, Leeds. At the end of the war, he was stationed with the newly formed RAF at Fern Hill, as Acting Major commanding 132 Squadron. He was a founder member of the Guild of Air Pilots and Air Navigators (now renamed The Honourable Company of Air Pilots).
Norman was the son of George Blackburn, and brother of Robert Blackburn, founder of Blackburn Aircraft. After World War I, he returned to Leeds to join his brothers Robert and Charles in building, and in Norman's case flying, aeroplanes. He was an early member of the RAF Club. Norman managed the RAF Reserve training school at Brough Aerodrome from January 1924 to 1940, where many RAF pilots and foreign airmen were trained - over 10,000 pilots all told. Among the celebrities who learned to fly there was The Hon Mrs Victor Bruce, who then flew around the world in her Blackburn Bluebird, only eight weeks after completing her training.
Norman served as a director of Blackburn Aircraft from 1920 to 1950, and Joint Managing Director from 1949.
World War II
In 1940, Robert Blackburn asked Norman to take charge of Fairey Swordfish production at the Sherburn-in-Elmet factory near Leeds, and having returned to Brough in 1943, he was in full charge of all Blackburn factories in Yorkshire from 1944. He lived his latter years in Bridlington in the East Riding of Yorkshire, where he was an enthusiastic and supportive member of the Royal Yorkshire Yacht Club.