By Rod Ward
Here we have the story of an aviation iconoclast, who had to re-start his long career three times. All his life the buccaneering F G Miles was known as ‘Miles’, never by his forename, but in this publication he is sometimes referred to as ‘Fred’, to avoid confusion. In 1930 he sold the business he had built up and left the country, to avoid bringing scandal to the woman he loved, but he returned to marry Blossom, and with his brother George the trio produced almost 50 aircraft designs in two decades. They included the classic Hawk low-wing light aircraft, wartime trainers, revolutionary transport designs and some extraordinary advanced projects. Fred was the dynamo whose unbounded enthusiasm kept everything going, Blossom was a talented draughtswoman and mathematician, and George was one of the most gifted aircraft designers of his generation. From 1936 to 1943 Rolls-Royce co-owned the company, until Fred bought them out. Almost 6,000 Miles aircraft were built in total, and though postwar designs such as the Messenger and Gemini were popular, the company was bankrupted in 1947. Fred recovered from the loss of his life’s work, restarted his company, and in 1960 it merged with Auster into the ill-starred Beagle venture. When Beagle collapsed, Miles began yet again. Miles were not only aviation innovators; they were also produced ‘Biro’ ballpoint pens and Copycat copying machines, but it is for aeroplanes that the Miles name will be remembered. The Miles aircraft which survive into the 21st century are loved by their owners and admired by new generations of enthusiasts.