Aeronautical Syndicate

Aeronautical Syndicate Ltd


Horatio Claude Barber was born in Croydon on 11 September 1875 at Thornton Heath, Surrey, the son of Charles and Isabella Barber and was one of Britain's true aviation pioneers. Inspired by the Wright brothers, he was the first man in Great Britain to receive an aeronautical degree.

On his return from an extended stay in Paris, he found a suitable workshop in some disused railway arches at Battersea and there began construction but, lacking engineering knowledge, entrusted the work to a consulting engineer, Howard Wright. The monoplane was completed and delivered in the first week of June 1909 to Larkhill on Durrington Downs, where Barber had erected a shed to house it.

Meanwhile, the Aeronautical Syndicate Ltd had been formed in the preceding April. The directors and only shareholders at that time were Charles Worsley Battersby and Herman Rudolph Schmettau. The former was a stockbroker of the partnership of R.C. May and Battersby and the latter a solicitor of the firm of Hays, Schmettau and Dunn, who appear to have acted for Barber and provided him with a poste restante address at that time. Barber was the Syndicate's general manager but he never became a shareholder. At the formation of the company Barber sold it his patents, monoplane and hangar, by which it might be inferred that the Syndicate provided him with the finance necessary for him to continue his experiments. By March 1910 his designs were making successful flights and in September 1910 the Syndicate became the first occupant of the sheds newly erected at Hendon flying field; there Barber gained Aviators Certificate No. 30 on 22nd November of the same year.

On July 4th, 1911 the Valkyrie B was used to transport the first air cargo in Britain (a box of Osram lamps). Early in 1912 the twin-propeller Viking biplane built, which was to be the last of Barber's designs. He continued his research and experimental work for a few months but in April 1912 withdrew from active aviation due to increasing costs. The company's aircraft and spares were to have been auctioned on April 24, but that was preempted by Frederick Handley Page who paid cash for all the assets of ASL.

That same year Barber had tried to insure himself against any liability from passengers of his aircraft, but this was unknown at the time and Lloyd's asked him to write his own policy, the first aircraft insurance policy. From then until the war he was engaged as a consultant on aviation and had a large practice which included members of Lloyd's whom he advised on all questions relating to aircraft insurance. Barber served in the First World War in the Royal Flying Corps (RFC) and later the Royal Air Force (RAF). He was one of the first flying instructors at Shoreham and he also invented a number of training aids. Barber was in charge of all flying training in England.

In 1917 he published a book The Aeroplane Speaks and in 1927 Aerobatics. In 1919 he joined the Aviation Insurance Association as a consultant and from 1919 to 1921 was Chairman of Lloyds Technical Committee for Aviation, thereafter becoming Chairman of the Aero Underwriters Corporation in the USA until 1930, when he retired to Bermuda.

Barber returned to the U.K in 1949 and died in St Helier, Jersey, the Channel Isles, on 6 July 1964.

Company References
  1. Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps, The, J.M. Bruce (Putnam, 1982)
  2. British Aircraft Before The Great War, Michael H. Goodall and Albert E. Tagg (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2001
  3. British Aviation, The Pioneer Years, Harald Penrose (Putnam, 1967)
  4. English Electric Aircraft and their Predecessors, Stephen Ransom and Robert Fairclough (Putnam, 1987)

Project Data top

Project No

Type No


Alternative Name(s)







   Monoplane No.1  1909  Proto 1 1S, 1E tractor monoplane 1,2
   Monoplane No.2  1909  Proto 1 1S, 1E tractor monoplane 1,2
   Valkyrie Type A(1)  1910  Proto 11+ 1S, 1E tractor monoplane 1,2,3
   Valkyrie Type B  1910  Pdn 1 2S, 1E pusher monoplane 1,2,3
   Valkyrie Type C  1910  Pdn 4+ 3S, 1E pusher monoplane 1,2,3
   Viking  1912  Proto 1 2S, 1E tractor biplane 1,2

  1. Flight of 24th September, 1910, referred to this as the fifth of a series of experimental models. The two unidentfied aircraft may be additional unknown ASL models or variations of the first two monoplanes.

Project References
  1. British Aircraft 1809-1914, Peter Lewis (Putnam, 1962)
  2. British Aircraft Before The Great War, Michael H. Goodall and Albert E. Tagg (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2001)
  3. Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps, The, J.M. Bruce (Putnam, 1982)

Production Data

   Total Aeronautical Syndicate Production     19+   

Production References
  1. British Aircraft Before The Great War, Michael H. Goodall and Albert E. Tagg (Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2001)
  2. Aeroplanes of the Royal Flying Corps, The, J.M. Bruce (Putnam, 1982)

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V1.3.0 Created by Roger Moss. Last updated February 2017