Most general aviation pilots probably learned how to fly in a Cessna aircraft but had history been a little different, perhaps many pilots would have learned how to fly in British built Beagle B.121 Pups. A single-engined training and touring aircraft that could seat two to four passengers, the Beagle Pup was built by Beagle Aircraft Limited at the Shoreham Airport and Rearsby Aerodrome.
According to Wikipedia, Beagle Aircraft Limited had decided to build the Beagle Pup after conducting a market survey which revealed a global requirement for a two to four seat training and touring aircraft to replace aging Tiger Moths and Pipers used by flying clubs. The first prototype Beagle Pup flew at the Shoreham Airport on April 8, 1967 while the first delivery to the Shoreham Flying School was made on April 12, 1968.
The Beagle Pup proved to be popular with flying clubs and general aviation pilots around the world and by 1969, aircraft production had increased to one Pup per day that were then flown to either the Rearsby Aerodrome or Cambridge Airport for painting and finishing work. Deliveries were also made to owners as far afield as Australia as well as closer to home to Sweden and Switzerland. In addition, a special four seat version was built for the Iranian Civil Air Training Organisation.
However and before the Beagle Pup was built, Beagle Aircraft Limited’s parent company, Pressed Steel, had been absorbed into the British Motor Corporation. After a review of their involvement in light aircraft manufacturing, the British Motor Corporation requested financial help from the British Government which acquired Beagle Aircraft Limited in 1966. When the company needed more financial help, it was placed into receivership and after the Receiver failed to revive and sell it whole, its assets were ultimately disposed of.
Over 250 Beagle Pups were apparently on order but production stopped with the 152nd aircraft with some remaining nearly completed aircraft being finished in other locations. The last aircraft completed was G-BCGV (s/n B121-176) and it was first registered on June 17, 1974.
According to Wikipedia, Beagle Pups are still operated by the following clubs or organizations in the UK:
- Derby Aero Club
- Shoreham Flying School
- SkySport UK
- Starline Elms Coaches
- The Dogs Flying Group, Sywell
- Netherthorpe Airfield
So perhaps some of our readers have had a chance to fly one.
A quick Internet search also reveals an entire website dedicated to “Bob the Beagle,” a Beagle Pup that competed in a 1969 Britain to Australia Air Race flown by a husband and wife pilot team. “Bob” then spent much of his life in France after his owners moved there but today he is based at Hawarden and is still flying strong.