Tours Airport as you’d never believe it!

Rallye Aérien International des Grand Vins de Touraine, 24-25 July 1937

In July 1937, Richard Randolph William Rawson Trafford won the international air rally of the Grand Vins de Touraine at Tours.

The competition was a treasure hunt.  Numbers were laid out in various vineyards in the Loire Valley.  The competitors, who were given a list and the position of the vineyards, had to find the numbers and write them on a piece of paper. They then had to drop their answers at a particular spot at the airfield at Tours.  The winner was the person with the correct answers and whose piece of paper landed closest to the spot marked at the airfield.

Randolph won, out of 38 competitors as he recorded, ‘Got first prize at Tours Air Rallye last week’. He won une magnifique coupe en argent offerte par M Dreyfus, constructeur des parachutes Aviorex . All the competitors spent the rest of the weekend visiting vineyards and attending various dinners.


So, who was this daring chap, Richard Randolph William Rawson Trafford? He was Lord of the Manor of a part of Ewyas Lacy by virtue of his ownership of the Michaelchurch Court Estate in Herefordshire, England from 1910 until his death in 1943.

Educated at Harrow Public School, he was extremely wealthy with an inheritance, in 1928, of £100,000 (equivalent to over £4 million today).

Randolph was bitten by the desire to fly at an early age.  Following his father’s death, in the summer of 1911, his mother took him and his elder sister, Margaret, to Trouville in France.  There, aged four, he apparently saw his first plane.

He learned to fly in the 1920s and went on to become an internationally famous pilot. He had his own airfield – apparently the first one in Herefordshire.

On 18 January 1943, Randolph was flying a Fairey Fulmar II and returning from RNAS St Merryn to RNAS Yeovilton – the Naval Air Fighter School.  In the plane with him was Air Artificer John Tyrrell.  In low visibility, the plane crashed into high ground on Dartmoor and burnt out a quarter of a mile west of Okehampton.  Both Randolph and Tyrrell were killed.

Source of information and image: The History of Ewyas Lacy,

About Jim McNeill

I am a blogger on 'The Social History of the Touraine region of France (37)' and also 'The Colonial History of Pennsylvania and the life & Family of William Penn'. I am a Director of Fresh Ground Group Ltd.
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4 Responses to Tours Airport as you’d never believe it!

  1. Andy Dyson says:

    Hi Jim

    Nice site and good to see an interesting story. On the idea of being able to just organise a flying treasure hunt and then go on a bender it is possible even today over 95% of airspace in the UK and Europe is designated G meaning that no permissions are needed.

    If planned from your own or friendly airfield you can set up one up. Indeed they still happen quite often. A common competition other than ‘bombing’ flour bags out of windows is the precision touchdown where pilots are graded on how close to a specific line on the runway they can make contact. And pilots do know how to drink…we do our best flying in the bar

    • Jim McNeill says:

      Hi Andy,
      Thanks for your comments and clarification on the ins & outs/ups & downs of modern aviation.
      How is the construction of your plane progressing….any chance of a lift to France someday?
      Kindest regards,

  2. Jim McNeill says:

    Hi Colin, Thanks for visiting. Yep, you’re right, plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose.
    I just like the idea that at one point it was possible, if you had the wherewithal, to get together and just fly around the region without having to ask permission – and then spend the rest of weekend on a bender.

  3. Colin Dyson says:

    Great to see a post Jim, flying you around and dropping thinga quickly at Tours airport is not that much different to Ryanair’s operations.

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