Written by Yorkshire Mixture
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Topics: Local, Flying, flight

Saturday, 21 March 2015

A blue plaque is to be attached to Stoodley Pike in Calderdale dedicated to the true pioneer of powered flight Silas Makepeace Hepplethwaite of Mankinholes nr. Todmorden.

Silas was a sheep farmer but he firmly believed that man was destined to fly like the birds so he scaled up a model of a Da Vinci flying machine from a packet of cornflakes. It had twin contra rotating props powered by meths burning Mamod model steam engines.

On the 16th of December 1903, one whole day before the Wright brothers flight at Kittyhawk, with the help of some friends he transported his flying machine to Stoodley Pike high on the moors. The contraption was to be launched with catapult assistance and with Silas strapped into the old rocking chair lashed to the machine and with the steam engines spinning the props at full revs and the catapult creaking under the strain of 752 stretched rubber bands he shouted "Pull" to his friends as the signal to remove the restraining pin.

As he shot over the edge of the valley two clay pigeon shooters having heard the word "pull" saw the moving target and let him have all four barrels. Although wildly off the mark one stray lead shot put out the wick on the port engine causing Silas and machine to go into an assymetric spin towards an enormous heap of poultry manure. He was heard to scream prophetically " Chuffin' sh*t" as he and machine went through the outer crust of the manure heap into the steaming semi-liquid centre.

After many weeks straws were drawn to decide who should extract his by now ripe remains from the heap. He was cremated on a funeral pyre at Blackshaw Head several miles from the funeral party who due to the smell assembled at Stoodley Pike on the opposite side of the Calder Valley.

Some say that when the wind moans around the obelisk of Stoodley Pike his last words can still be heard abruptly ending lower down the slope.

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The story above is a satire or parody. It is entirely fictitious.

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