Kronfeld Drone de Luxe
1936, Lasham Gliding Heritage Centre, On loan
During the 1930s many attempts were made to produce a practical low cost light aeroplane. One early result, the BAC Drone, met some success and on the death of its original designer, it was taken over by Robert Kronfeld, a well-known Austrian gliding pioneer who emigrated to Britain in the early 1930s.
Kronfeld's company at Feltham, Middlesex, manufactured aircraft at nearby Hanworth Air Park and produced around 30 Kronfeld Drones and a few of the de Luxe version powered by a converted Ford 10 car engine - the Carden Ford. Kronfeld himself later flew as a wartime test pilot but was killed in the late 1940s while flying a prototype tailless glider for General Aircraft Ltd near Lasham.
Now the only known Kronfeld Drone de Luxe in existence, G-AEKV was built at Hanworth in 1936 and first registered to the manufacturer until sold to E. Crossley in January 1937. The aircraft was a regular visitor to Brooklands pre-war - even making a forced landing on Esher Common - but its pre-1950 history is currently obscure.
Owned in the fifties by a succession of private owners in Southern England, G-AEKV was grounded in the 1960s, stored, part rebuilt and then acquired by Mike Beach in the early 1980s. Restored by Mike Beach and volunteers at Brooklands Museum in 1983-84, two test flights were made from Brooklands in August 1984. Engine problems prevented further flying, although these have since been rectified. More recently, this historic aircraft was purchased for Brooklands Museum in 1998 with the support of a grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.
DATA: One 30 hp four cylinder Carden Ford water-cooled engine; Wing span 39ft 8ins (12.1m); Length 27ft 1in (6.5m) (with wings folded); Height 7ft (2.1m); Weight [empty] 460lbs (209kg); Max. speed 73 mph.