Eric Cecil Gordon England [5 April 1891-February 1976] was a British aviator, racing driver and engineer. E.C. Gordon England was also one of the early pioneers of gliding.
Gordon England was born in Argentina in 1891, the son of British parents George and Amy England. When he came to England aged ten, he was educated at New College, Eastbourne; then from 1904 to 1906 at Framlingham College in Suffolk. He then started an engineering apprenticeship with the Great Northern Railway works at Doncaster becoming a fellow-apprentice of W O Bentley.
In 1908, he left the railways for his first job in aviation, working as an assistant for Noel Pemberton Billing who was trying to establish a flying ground at South Fambridge in Essex. While working for Pemberton Billing he met José Weiss, who designed and built tailless gliders, and England became an assistant to Weiss. On 27 June 1909, England flew a Weiss glider (named Olive after one of Weiss's five daughters), at Amberley Mount, Sussex on a height-gaining flight that reached 100 feet. It is the first recorded soaring flight, and is considered to be the birth of the sport of Gliding.
Aviator, designer and engineerIn 1911 Gordon England taught himself to fly at the Bristol flying school at Brooklands, and he gained Pilot Certificate No. 68 in three hours. Later in 1911, he joined the Bristol Aeroplane Company as a staff pilot, but was soon recognised as a designer. One of his first design jobs was to convert a Bristol T-type biplane into a tractor design, which was then called the Bristol Challenger-England. This conversion was followed by three biplanes [the G.E.1, G.E.2 and G.E.3], all designed by England. England left the Bristol company, and in 1912 in association with James Radley produced the Radley-England waterplane; it was the first three-engined aircraft built in the United Kingdom. England also built and tested the Cedric-Lee circular aeroplane. Between 1913 and 1916, he was a test pilot and consultant engineer to a number of aircraft constructors, mainly on the English south coast.
In 1919, Gordon England left Frederick Sage & Co to become a consultant, and started an interest in motor racing. In 1922, with his father George, he became interested in building bodies for the Austin Seven sports cars. Using his skills gained with aircraft, he designed and patented a new lightweight body made from plywood box-girders and an ash framework covered with thin plywood panels. In 1925, he entered the 24 Hours of Le Mans race using one of his own designs, but he failed to finish. By 1927, over 20,000 Austin Sevens had been built with England bodies. He incorporated the company as Gordon England  Ltd, but with the increase in the use of metal bodies, the firm eventually closed in 1930.
In 1945, Gordon England contested the Bury St Edmunds seat in the General Election, standing for the socialist Common Wealth party but failed to get elected. England died in February 1976.