Gordon Bell
Gordon Bell
1630,     -Les Oiseaux de France
Monoplan Esnault-Pelterie (REP) piloté par GORDON BELL.
Collection of Bill Robertson, 8-29-05

via email from Bill Robertson, 8-27-05
     Looking on Google for references to Gordon Bell I came across your appeal for more information.
     I collect anything to do with Turkish Aviation. Gordon Bell featured as something of a hero in Turkey. He flew his Rep monoplane at the Coronation of Sultan Mehmed Reshad V on 27 April 27 1910 and reputedly landed it within the walls of the Topkapi palace.
     Later in 1912 during the Italo-Turkish war in Libya, he was involved in training pilots for the fledgling Turkish Airforce as a representative of the REP organisation.
     Basically that is all I know about him, and I was hoping for more.
     I have two postcards showing his famous red REP "Ordu".
     If you want I can send you scans.
Bill Robertson

Gordon Bell
LeROUGE monoplan REP piloté par GORDON BELL
Collection of Bill Robertson, 8-29-05

via email from Bill Robertson, 10-1-05
     I came across a revealing reference to Gordon Bell in on a photocopied page of a book that I had. As follows:
"BELL, Charles Gordon: Aviator, started in motor business, Serving apprenticeship at Napier motor works. In 1911 was engaged by REP, and at the time was the only English representative to be employed by a French firm; qualified for brevet No. 100 at Brooklands, on Hanriot monoplane, July 4, 1911; in April 1912 carried out the first flight over Constantinople and started the Turkish Air Corps; served for three years in Royal Flying Corps; since invalided out; b. London, May 31st 1889; educated at Tonbridge School."
taken from
The Flying Book, the Aviation World Who's Who, Industrial Directory,
by W.L.Wade 1918

via email from Rusty Mott, 12-8-11
Dear Mr. Cooper,

I think I can add something interesting to your knowledge about Major Charles Gordon-Bell. Gordon-Bell was one of two pilots to fly souvenir copies of the Paris newspaper, Le Matin, Wednesday 28 May, 1913, the first to be flown across the channel, from Paris to England, to deliver to His Majesty the King, George V, at Windsor Castle. Gordon-Bell's monoplane developed engine trouble and he never reached Windsor. Those two copies were printed on silk. That evening he learned that the other copy, the only other one printed on silk, had been delivered successfully. Thus, he kept his for a little while before giving it to W. Naylor Spence. Spence was, according to "Flight", February 3, 1912, clerk of the Manchester Aero Club, and was elected to membership in the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom, June 18, 1915.

I own the Gordon-Bell copy printed on 8 leaves on silk, accompanied by a letter from
7 November 1920 by W. Naylor Spence to Major G. F. Sexton, to whom he was giving the newspaper, in which Spence gives the history of the flight, mentioning Gordon-Bell. I would hazard the guess that we have owned it somewhere between 40 and 50 years, and just today, thanks to Google, I noticed your request for information about Gordon-Bell.

Gordon-Bell is also mentioned pp. 191-194 in Charles Cyril Turner's"The Old Flying Days" (1927; reprinted 1972). You can Google that volume.


Rusty Mott
Howard S. Mott, Inc. Rare Books
Sheffield, MA

Gordon Bell
Fétes d'Aviation, NANCY-JARVILLE, 7 et 8 1912
18. - Gordon Bell au départ sur son monoplan "Rep"
Collection of Jean-Pierre Lauwers

Bell Crashes in Brooklands, (UK) - 1913
from Aircraft Deaths - 1910 to August 1914
by Dave Lam
     Dave has found a record of a plane crash on June 13, 1913 involving Gordon Bell.
     Luckily, Gordon was not killed, but his passenger, J.R.B. Kennedy, did not survive the crash.

     Using the Google search engine on "Gordon Bell" +aviation, (8-27-05), you will find about 685 links! A few of them appear to be relevant.

British Civil Aviation in 1912
     On the RAF Museum website, you will find this listing of notable events which occurred in 1912. It offers the following brief note:
"Also this year...
Gordon Bell becomes the first professional test pilot for the Short Brothers at Eastchurch."

     You can access the page by clicking on the title above.

Australian Naval Aviation
Part I

B y Group Captain Keith Isaacs, AFC
     If you search this very extensive pdf file for "Gordon Bell," you will find the following paragraph.
     "The Royal Naval Air Service was formed on July 1, 1914, and on the 28th Longmore, flying a three-bay Short Folder seaplane, made the first successful air-torpedo drop by a naval ;pilot in Great Britain. Apparently test pilot Gordon Bell had made the very first drop the previous evening..."
     You can access the page by clicking on the title above.

Brooklands Aero Club Flying Meeting Programme,
     This page on the Invaluable website, offers a listing of documents which are being offered during the "Dominic Winter Auctions [Books] , Archived Sales, Collectables ( ) , - Thursday, November 11, 2004. The following document includes reference to Gordon Bell.
     "Brooklands Aero Club Flying Meeting Programme, Saturday, May 11th, 1912, orig. printed programme, on a single folded sheet of card, glazed yellow outer cover, with printed list of pilots and machines entered for a cross-country handicap To Chertsey and Back, and a relay race, round the course, Two Laps Each, some soiling and creases, and other marks, outer corners clipped, approx. 12.5 x 9 cms. A scarce early Brooklands Aviation programme, with participants incl. Gordon Bell, Pashley, Sopwith, Sabelli, Parke, Raynham and others. "
     You can access the page by clicking on the title above.

Shorts Aircraft since 1900
C. H. Barnes
revised by
Derek N. James
Product Details
Hard Cover: 576 pgs., 430 photos,
80 line drawings. 5½"x 8¾"
List Price: $45.00
Publisher: Putnam Aeronautical Books
ISBN: 0870216627
I have read with interest your "Early Aviators" entry about Gordon Bell and can refer you to a useful source of information, i.e. "Shorts Aircraft since 1900" by C.H. Barnes, revised by Derek N. James, published by Putnam. Bell is mentioned numerous times in the early years, since he was Shorts' first staff test pilot in 1912 (freelance), staying there until August 1914. The book includes a good close-up photograph of Bell in 1914, taken before he left to become "an official A.I.D. test pilot". It also notes that he was "killed in France in July 1918 in this capacity."

The book may also clarify the issue of the first airborne torpedo drop, which was probably performed by Longmore rather than Bell.

I hope that this information is useful..
T. Runciman

Gordon Bell was killed in 1918
from Shorts Aircraft since 1900
Editor's Note:
If you have any information on this pioneer aviator
please contact me.
E-mail to Ralph Cooper

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