The Aviator
Robert Loraine
It is said that Mr. Loraine, who is now in England playing in a drama called, "The Man from the Sea." will shortly abandon the stage in order to devote his attention to aerial navigation, in which he is keenly interested. The above picture was taken during one of his aeroplane flights. Mr. Loraine is reported to have made a snug fortune with "Man and Superman" and subsequently in investments and will, it is said, shortly marry Miss Marie Lohr, the young English actress.
from Flight Magazine

via email from Pete Jones, 7-25-07
Hello Ralph,
     Here is Robert Loraine(January 14,1876 - December 23,1935), like modern actor John Travolta he was an actor-aviator. Loraine was a very well known stage actor before becoming a pilot around 1910. He acted in a play by George Bernard Shaw called Man & Superman around 1905. But Loraine's laurels as an aviator were seemingly many. He had participated in the first experimental aerial sortie along with Bertram Dickson, had made the first crossing of the Irish Sea by plane, and landed the first airplane on the Isle of Wight in 1910 and in Wales. Mr Loraine also sent the first Marconi wireless message from an airplane in 1911.
      A number of websites are uploaded concerning Robert Loraine's theatrical career and his 'side' career as a pilot. I think the second was his greater love as he willingly served as a pilot in the RFC/RAF during WW1 when he was 40 years old. Loraine was married twice and had three daughters by his second wife. According to IMDb.com he was married to Julie Opp & Winifred Strangman. A real estate website (see below) looking back on it's property's history incorrectly mentions one Mabel Love as being married to him as well. His second wife, Winifred Loraine, wrote a biography of him entitled "Robert Loraine: Actor, Sailor, Airman" & "Head Wind: The Story of Robert Loraine" issued under different titles in UK and the US. So below are a few websites with pictures, info & other historical descriptions
     This site has details on the actor-airman:


     These are posed theater stills of him in uniform and as civilian. Not much to do with flying but well done stills of the man and I think adds more perspective when you can put a face to a name:
National Portrait Gallery

via email from Lannie Liggera, 6-14-09
Hello Ralph,
     Loraine joined the R.F.C. at age 38 1/2, being born Jan. 14, 1876.He held the rank of 2nd Lt. on probation in Sqn.3, got off probation on November 11, 1914, after weathering several complaints that he was short sighted, (he wore glasses to fly), was wounded by shrapnel on Nov. 22, 1914, which took out his right lung. After recovery, John Salmond sent him to train as a pilot on a BE2c and was in Sqn. 2, doing a lot of artillery observation.
     In September he was promoted to Captain and in Sqn. 5 led the first British all-fighter fight.in a Vickers Gunbus (FE8). In 1916, he was one of the instructors picked to go to Gosport to teach new training methods developed by Major Smith-Barry, and he worked up Sqn. 40 so well it was changed from a reconnnaissance to a fighter squadron.
      The flights arrived at different times at Treziennes, France, in August, 1916. On February 3, Bernard Shaw visited the squadron to watch a rehearsal of two one act plays he had given Loraine, He was recalled to England Feb. 12, but recalled swiftly as Wing Commander of Wing 14 during Bloody April. Here he stayed through June.
     On return to England he was diagnosed with neurasthenia, but kept on duty while he was being treated, as Wing C.O of Wing 18. On October 31 he was transferred to Andover to train Wing 36. Here trouble ensued, as his symptoms of irritability led to a plot to bring him up on court martial for being drunk on duty, of which he was acquitted. Meanwhile, John Salmond, who Loraine was usually close behind, was made CinC of the RAF, replacing Boom Trenchard. Loraine's story that he was so disgusted that he asked to revert to Major and be sent back to France holds water.
      He commanded Sqn. 211, a day-bomber unit,near Dunkirk. When 211 was requested to go elsewhere, Douglas Haig himself said he could not spare it. Loraine did not pilot, but only served as an observer. On July 21 (or 20, I must check), he and pilot Harold Ireland were separated from the rest of the flight on a return from a sortie and were attacked by a German seaplane. Loraine shot it down but was severely wounded himself, losing his left kneecap and fracturing his thigh and injuring his hip, which would cause him pain for the rest of his life.
     Loraine has often been a victim of cheap shots and most made into a figure of fun by some aviation historians who obviously don't know the whole story, merely seized on something derogatory. His RFC/RAF career definitely needs reassessment.

via email from Lannie Liggera, 7-3-09
Dear Ralph
     I want to write this out while it is fresh in my mind!
     The story of how Loraine got airborne the last day of the Bournemoth Meet is almost as dramatic as the flight he made. He had received his pilot's license June 21 in France, license #126. (Flight magazine reported it as #125, but corrected itself the next week).
     Loraine then conceived the idea of flying to Southborne Aerodrome instead of packing up the machine in boxes. Unfortunately he crashed badly and Vedrines simply threw the remains in six carts.. Arriving at the hangar Smart had finally managed to get built--another leg of the story--le patron asked Vedrines to repair the machine. Vedrines refused, saying it would have to be rebuilt. Then rebuild it, Loraine said. Vedrines refused and walked off around the aerodrome, thinking what a coup it would be if he could pull off a rebuild, and consented to try. The rebuild has different features than the classic Henry Farman. Looking at photos with Leo Opdycke, longtime editor of World War I magazine, and using some notes sent to him from the late Jack Bruce, the re-build differed in that the lower wing was shortened ( in Farman #11, the wings were each of equal length, on Loraine's #12 the ailerons were removed from the lower wing, and the trailing edge painted a brighter white than the rest of the white on the wings (and with yellow spars). Bruce notes that it had a shortened lower wing with wire braces to the extension of the upper wing and only two rudders instead of three.
     Below the piece of wood serving as seat just above the lower wing was a framework connecting to a rudder bar (not pedals), so the pilot's legs were hanging down. The landing gear had two sets of wheels on either side, with a skid running between then with its nose turned up like a sled. This was to keep the a/c(aircraft) from tipping over on landing and wrecking the front elevator. The fuel tank was right behind the pilot, then the pusher engine. (tractor engines were on the nose of an aeroplane, not on the fuselage). Early a/c had no brakes, only a tailskid, a piece of wood at the back which dug into the ground to slow the machine down. The crews ran out to grab the wings. Similarly, when a pilot revved up the engine, crews held it back, and sometime placed chocks or planks in front of the wheels. When the pilot was ready, he held up his hand, and the crew let go.
     While Vedrines was working on the machine, 20 carpenters were building the hangar, hired from London because all the locals were engaged, and Robert was in London, constantly calling France for parts.
     On July 15, Charles Rolls, co-founder of Rolls-Royce automobiles, crashed and died shortly after. His friend formed a circle cordon around him to keep the crowd away, and Samuel F. Cody, a colorful American a/c, held Rolls' head on his lap.. Morning flying on the 16th was cancelled in his honor.

from Partick Doherty, 12-21-07
     He held the ranks of Lt, Capt, Major and Lt Col while in the RFC and then RAF; he was married twice; the daughters were all by the second wife Winifred; His wife Winifred wrote one biography under two titles.

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