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Frederick Warren Merriam was born Frederick Warren but changed his name by deed poll in 1901 to Merriam after being befriended and sponsored in his flying aspirations by an American, Olin Merriam. At the controls of a Bristol Box-kite, in 1912 he was the first pilot in Britain to fly through cloud. Later, as manager and chief instructor of the Bristol Flying School at Brooklands, he had many pupils who subsequently became famous. At the outbreak of the First World War Merriam was the most senior flying instructor in Britain; he duly became chief instructor to the R.N.A.S. at Hendon and later at Chingford. In 1922 he founded Britain’s first gliding school, near Shanklin, Isle of Wight. It was only the toss of a coin at the Royal Aero Club which decided that Alcock, rather than Merriam, should accompany Whitten-Brown on the first direct transatlantic flight. Forever linked with the earliest days of British aviation, Merriam died at Christchurch, Hampshire, on 12 November 1956 at the age of 76.

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