Shell Aviation remembers the past, with an eye to the future

Shell Aviation recently supplied the engine oils for a memorial flight that recreated an important aviation event that Shell did the same for 100 years ago.

A historic Catalina seaplane landed on Sunday having replicated the 1913 Circuit of Britain, which was the first major competition for seaplanes. The common aviation engine oil in 1913 was a simple castor oil. This time, the Catalina used AeroShell100.

Julie Laviolette, General Manager for Shell Aviation Americas, said: “Although this event originally took place in the UK, it is a good opportunity to stop and remember how far aviation has come in the last 100 years. Milestones like this allow us to remember our business’s heritage, while we continue to innovate for the future. In the last 100 years Shell has been involved in many of the innovations that enable flight as we now know it. At our dedicated technology centre in Houston we continue to develop advanced products that support our customers in the US every day.”

Aviation technology has come a long way since its first tentative steps in the early 20th century, she noted. Then, engines using castor oil could only operate for about 10 hours before needing a service. Today Shell’s performance engine oils help modern engines fly for thousands of hours, before the need of an overhaul.

The 1913 Circuit of Britain Race was the first major competition for seaplanes. It was part of a series of awards given by Lord Northcliffe to encourage the development of global aviation. As the original aircraft that took part is no longer airworthy, the memorial flight was carried out in a historic Catalina seaplane — the oldest flying seaplane in the UK. The flight took five days and followed the race’s original route as closely as possible, giving a number of aerial demonstrations along the way.

Between 1905 and 1925 Lord Northcliffe awarded over 15 prizes for various aviation challenges. As well as the Circuit of Britain Race, Shell also supplied fuels and lubricants for other awards, such as the first cross-channel flight in 1909 by Louis Bleriot, and Alcock and Brown’s crossing of the Atlantic in 1919.

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