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89/262 Aircraft and parts, ultralight, CFM Shadow, 'Dalgety Flyer', fibrelam / plywood / aluminium, made by Metalfax Ltd, Leiston, Suffolk, England, 1987, flown from England to Australia by Brian Milton in 1987-88. Click to enlarge.

Dalgety Flyer ultralight aircraft

Made by Metalfax Ltd in Suffolk, England, 1987.
This CFM Shadow ultralight aircraft, "Dalgety Flyer" made a remarkable and eventful flight of 21,898 km from London to Sydney, arriving in January 1988. It set records for both distance and speed of an ultralight flight.

The journey demonstrated the possibility of long distance intercontinental flight using an ultralight aircraft, then a relatively new aviation technology. This type of aircraft was initially developed as a limited application, low power, low cost leisure machine, but its limitations were seen as a challenge by some adventurous individuals.

The man who undertook this remarkable flight was Brian Milton, then a 45-year-old British journalist, TV presenter, adventurer and hang glider pilot. He obtained sponsorship from Dalgety, a large firm involved in food and commodities that had its beginnings in Australia.

At this time ultralights were little more than toys, and few people had flown more than 100 miles per flight in one. Milton chose the CFM Shadow, designed by former hang-glider pilot David Cook ('CFM' stands for Cook's Flying Machine) and made by Metalfax Ltd in England using composite materials.

Milton linked his flight with the 1919 air race from England to Australia won by Australians Ross and Keith Smith, Shiers and Bennett in a Vickers Vimy bomber. They took 28 days to fly from London to Darwin at a time when aviation was in its infancy. Similarly, when Milton made his record attempt, the development of ultralight aircraft was still in its infancy.

Milton took off on 2 December 1987. He became totally lost in thick cloud over France. On the island of Crete the aircraft was blown over and had to be glued back together. The engine failed while flying over a Jordanian mountain range, and the plane crash-landed in the Persian Gulf. Other challenges included landing on an unlit airstrip in the Australian bush between three lightning storms and just before an earthquake. Milton and the "Dalgety Flyer" missed the big Australian Bicentenary celebration by 3 days, arriving in Sydney on the 29 January after a journey of 58 days.

The flight was indeed reminiscent of the pioneer aviators on the 1919 England-Australia race, who suffered hardship and difficulties on the way but had the determination and resourcefulness to complete the journey. The success of the ultralight flight was due to the tenacity and endurance of Brian Milton, the support of his sponsor and team, and the capabilities of the aircraft.

Margaret Simpson
Assistant Curator, Transport


Object No.


Object Statement

Aircraft and parts, ultralight, CFM Shadow, 'Dalgety Flyer', fibrelam / plywood / aluminium, made by Metalfax Ltd, Leiston, Suffolk, England, 1987, flown from England to Australia by Brian Milton in 1987-88

Physical Description

The aircraft is a high wing monoplane with a swept back leading edge and a swept forward trailing edge. The monocoque fuselage is constructed of Araldite bonded Fibrelam, an extremely light but strong material developed for the space industry. Its honeycomb inner structure provides a substantial ability to absorb shock. The wing is constructed of a plywood formed leading edge built on an aluminium and plywood internal shearweb structure. Styrofoam formers were used to provide both leading and trailing edge structures. The trailing surfaces are covered with polyester cloth, and the tail and rudder surfaces are of polyester cloth over aluminium frames. The tail is connected to the monocoque by an aluminium tail boom. The tricycle undercarriage is fabricated from aluminium and steel, is fitted with a castoring nose wheel, and is steered by heel-brakes on the rudder pedals. There are two vertical stabilisers above the tail-plane.

This ultralight aircraft accommodates two people, tandem seated. While this type of aircraft can be fitted with dual control, this example has only one set of controls.The ultralight is powered by a 447 cc Rotax two stroke, two cylinder engine, developing 40 horsepower. It features a three-axis control like most aircraft, rather than a weight-shift control like a hang-glider. It was fitted with two ICOM VHF A-20 hand held radios and an ICOM HF radio was added for the England to Australia flight, which had a trailing 50 foot aerial at the rear.


Type: CFM Shadow
Builder: Metalfax Ltd, Leiston, Suffolk, England
Date: 1987
Registration: G-MTKS
Landing Speed: 72 km/h (45 miles per hour)
Cruising speed: 113 km/h (70 miles per hour)
Length: 6.4m (21 feet)
Wingspan: 10 m (33 feet)
Engine: 447 cc Rotax two stroke, two cylinder
Controls: 3 axis
Fuel tank: 54.51 litres (12 gallons)
Total fuel capacity: 127 litres (28 gallons)
Capacity to remain in the air: 9 hours
Engine maker: Bombardier-Rotax GmbH Gunskirchen, Austria.



Cook, David 1983


The CFM Shadow ultralight was designed by former hang-glider pilot David Cook. (The 'CFM' stands for Cook's Flying Machine.) The first of the class was made in 1983.

The "Dalgety Flyer" ultralight aircraft, built in 1987, was the 66th CFM Shadow to be built by Metalfax Ltd of Leiston, Suffolk, England. It appears this company became CFM Aircraft Limited, and continues to trade at 2D Eastlands Industrial Estate, Leiston, Suffolk. In the year 2000, CFM Shadow ultralights are still being manufactured and nearly 400 Shadows are flying in over 40 countries throughout the world. The range now includes two ultralight versions, the 50 horsepower C Series and the 64 horsepower D Series. Two light aircraft versions, the 64 horsepower Streak and the 74 horsepower Star Streak, are also in production. The aircraft are available in both completed form or as kits ready for assembly by amateur builders.

As well as being popular for leisure flying, Shadows are used for crop spraying, military surveillance and game reserve patrols. Many aircraft had been built with modified controls for tetraplegic and paraplegic pilots. Shadows are well suited to operation from short fields with restricted boundaries and as training aircraft.



In 1987 Brian Milton, a finance journalist, TV presenter and hang glider pilot, began planning to set a distance record for an ultralight aircraft. He decided to fly from London to Sydney, a distance of 13,500 miles. Milton's adventures had begun in 1968 when he drove a battered Austin 7 across the Sahara Desert to meet his fiance. His interest in ultralights stemmed from a passion for hang-gliding. He was founder of the British Hang Gliding League, which took Britain to world championship status in 10 years. In 1979 Milton was awarded the Prince of Wales Trophy, the highest award in British sporting aviation, and in 1985 the National Trophy, Britain's highest award for hang gliding.

Milton's record attempt was sponsored by large Australian food and commodities firm Dalgety. The company had traded in Australia for 140 years and wanted an exciting project to counteract its conservative image. Dalgety set up a small company, Windrummer Ltd, to finance the project ,and the ultralight was named "Dalgety Flyer". The company saw the project through to the end, with particular support given by Chief Executive Terry Pryce, Chief of Public Relations Tony Spalding, and Chairman Sir Peter Carey.

As training before the London to Sydney flight, Milton did several long flights around Britain and Ireland, and over the Alps to Genoa in Italy, in the ultralight he planned to use for the trip. During one of these flights he secured the British and European World Distance record for ultralights with his instructor, Peter Davies. Milton also studied navigation and relied on radio beacons, roads and geographical features to find his way rather than instrument flight rules.

Milton was helped on his record breaking flight by Mike Atkinson, a hang gliding friend who as engineer kept the ultralight airworthy. Neil Hardiman was hired as the project co-ordinator. Neil was a twenty-four year old hang glider pilot who had a Masters Degree in Engineering. It was his job to deal with the paperwork and practicalities, including flight clearances, visas, equipment, travel, maps, accommodation, routes and fuel. Neil turned out to be an inspired choice, as he was required to be a bureaucrat with the soul of a flyer. He maintained contact with London-based Patti Hewstone, who liaised with Dalgety and the public relations firm chosen to cover the flight, Shandwick.

As the arrival of the ultralight would be made during the Australian Bicentenary and the flight became an official Bicentenary event, Milton decided the route taken should relate to Australian history. He linked his flight with the great 1919 air race from England to Australia won by Australians Ross and Keith Smith, Wally Shiers and Jim Bennett in a Vickers Vimy bomber; that crew took 28 days to fly from London to Darwin at a time when aviation was in its infancy. When Milton made his record attempt, the development of ultralight aircraft was likewise in its infancy.

Milton's wife, Fiona Campbell, suggested that he take along an autograph book for signatures gathered from people in all the countries through which he flew. This would become his personal Bicentennial gift to Australia. (The autograph book is now also in this Museum's collection). The aim was for the Bicentennial flight arrive in Sydney on Australia Day, 26 January 1988.

Milton's London take off site for the flight was in Victoria Dock, a derelict part of the Docklands of East London which later became the financial centre Canary Wharf, on a grey and overcast day, 2 December 1987. Much media covered his departure, but he faced stiff headwinds from the beginning. On the fourth day he was lost, twice, in could over the Alps, but found a safe airfield. On the Greek island of Kythira, north of Crete, he was blown upside down by high winds, which wrecked the aircraft on the runway. Atkinson turned up the following day and they glued the ultralight back together in 6 days. After crossing the Mediterranean, and Egypt, while flying at 5,000 feet in attempting to cross a 6,000 foot Jordanian mountain range, the engine failed because of the wrong fuel. He came under the patronage of King Hussein, but had 15 partial engine failures crossing the Saudi Desert, again because of poor fuel. Probably worst of all was the crash-landing in the Persian Gulf on Christmas Day, 32 miles from Abu Dhabi in the middle of the Iraq/Iran war. It took him six hours to rescue the ultralight, and he and Atkinson took five more days to repair, before he flew on. In Malaysia he landed on a track in a paddy field, and made two more emergency landings because of monsoon weather. He had to island hop through Indonesia because of storms. At the end of his longest leg, ten and a half hours flying time, he landed on an unlit airstrip in the Australian bush between three lightning storms - just in time to experience an earthquake. In all Milton made nine emergency landings.

As it turned out Milton and the "Dalgety Flyer" missed the Bicentenary celebrations by 3 days, arriving in Sydney on 29 January, 58 days out from London. He was totally exhausted, having flown on every one of the previous 30 days.

Brian Milton recorded his adventures in a book "The Dalgety Flyer". In 1998, he became the first pilot to circumnavigate the world, a journey of 24,000 miles, in a two-seater ultralight. He set out with co-pilot Keith Reynolds in a British Pegasus Quantum 912 weight shift ultralight, named "GT Global Flyer". The idea was copy the achievement of Jules Verne's hero Phileas Fogg by circling the world in 80 days, but bureaucratic delays saw them fail to reach this target.

The pilot of the ultralight was a 45-year-old British journalist and daredevil hang glider pilot, Brain Milton. In 1987 he decided to try to beat the record of flying from the 13,500 miles from London to Sydney in an ultralight. He eventually found sponsorship with a large firm involved in food and commodities called Dalgety. They had their roots in Australia for over 140 years and wanted an exciting project to counteract a conservative image. Dalgetys set up a small company, Windrummer Ltd, to finance the project and the ultralight was named "Dalgety Flyer". The company saw the flight through to the end with particular support given by Terry Pryce, the Chief Executive, Tony Spalding a Chief of Public Relations and the company's chairman, Sir Peter Carey.

The "Dalgety Flyer" was presented to the Museum by Dalgety Australia Operations Ltd in 1989.

Some statistics from the flight:

Total flying time: 241 hours 20 minutes
Total distance flown: 13,607 miles (21,898 km)
Average ground speed: 56 mph (90.1 kph)
Average air speed: 70 mph (112.6 kph)
Average headwind: 14 mph (22.5 kph)
Number of flying days: 44
Total number of days: 59
Average time spent in the air: 5 hours 40 minutes
Average daily distance, including stops: 231 miles (371.7 km)
Average daily distance, flying days only: 309 miles (497.2 km)


Credit Line

Gift of Dalgety Australia Ops Ltd, 1989

Acquisition Date

29 March 1989

Cite this Object


Dalgety Flyer ultralight aircraft 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 8 July 2020, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Dalgety Flyer ultralight aircraft |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=8 July 2020 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}
This object is currently on display in Collection Gallery 3 at the Museums Discovery Centre.

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