ALTHouGH solo flying with a subsidised-club machine is not a frightfully expensive business nowadays, there is no getting away from the fact that learning to fly,—especially if one is not a very brilliant pupil—can run away with a lot of money. It can generally be reckoned that the first hour or two of dual is taken up with merely getting the beginner used to the air, to the sensation of flying, and, in a small measure, to acquiring the ” feel ” of the controls. If he is a real tyro he doesn’t learn very much about piloting during thisiperiod. But, of course, he has to pay at the same rate as he does later, when he can take off, turn and land with a fair degree of success.
The idea that tuition in the elementary handling of an aeroplane might be carried out on the ground (and therefore be done at small expense) is a very early one ; in fact, most flying schools of pre-War and early Wartime days put one through a course of” rolling practice.” And I think this method was quite sound.
Just lately, an elaboration of this old idea has been developed in an attempt at reducing the cost of training. This comprises a machine, which in effect is a powerdriven miniature ‘plane, mounted on a vertical pivot, attached to a horizontal arm which is free to rotate round another pivot on the floor. The pupil sits in the cockpit, which has the usual stick and rudder-bar controls, and on the engine being started up he can steer the machine with the rudder and elevator, when the slipstream takes effect, and so to some extent get the feel and sensation of actual flying. The general arrangement is quite ingenious, although there are features which could be improved upon. There are no ailerons, for example, and the engine switch is on contact when down. Suitably modified, the machine might prove quite useful as an auxiliary outfit at flying schools, and it is conceivable that it might reduce the number of hours required in preparing a pupil for the solo stage.
A step forward has been taken by Air Hire Company, with registered offices at 50, Fairfield Crescent, Edgware to provide solo flying facilities for those who are not owner-pilots and yet do not wish to be bound by the somewhat strict rules of the various clubs. This company has inaugurated what is believed to be the first ” Hire and Fly Yourself” service to be run on commercial lines. For an inclusive charge of i16 per day you may hire a latest model 1931 Gipsy Moth, complete with balloon tyresland safety slots. The tank wilk,be filled for you, which gives you three or four hours flying for
no extra charge, and you can fly it where you like, in or out of England. If you want a week-end’s flying, there are special rates—twelve guineas inclusive from Friday night to Monday morning ; in this time it is possible to make a modest continental tour, and carry a passenger as well as your luggage, if you wish to do so.
Air Hire Co. have opened the most modern of showrooms at 18-22, Dering Street, New Bond Street, W., where a replica of their hire machines is on show. Anyone interested in learning to fly, hiring an aeroplane, purchasing a Moth, or merely discussing what can be done with the economical modern light aeroplane, will be a welcome caller.
It is a curious fact that while the light plane in this country is steadily gaining in weight and horse-power, so that a two-seater of 60 h.p. is now regarded as being definitely underpowered, the real light plane is obviously progressing in farour in America. Many of these craft are home-made, for there are a very few restrictive regulations to hamper either the professional or amateur constructor over there. A friend has recently sent me details and photographs of one of the latest factorybuilt jobs which comes into the ultra-light class. This is the little Curtiss-Wright “Junior,” a machine of distinctly novel layout. It is a high wing monoplane with steel-tube welded fuselage, in which the pilot sits directly below the wing, and the passenger in the streamlined nose. The power unit is a three-cylinder radial Szekeley of 40 h.p., and this is mounted pusherwise on the centre-section. Other details are :—Span, 39 feet ; length, 20 feet 10 inches ; height, 6 feet, 4 inches ; power-loading, 22.5 lbs. per h.p. ; wingloading, 5 lbs. per square foot.
It is said to have a speed range of 28-80 m.p.h., and— what is most intriguing—it costs only £300!
2,500 Miles by Autogiro.
Further to my remarks last month about the Autogiro, it :;s interesting to hear that a record flight with one of these machines has recently been carried out in the U.S.A. The pilot was Mr. James G. Ray, vice-president of the Autogiro Co., of America. He flew from Philadelphia to Miami and back, to attend the All-American Air Races, and the mileage totalled 2,500. Most of the trip was done in very foul weather, and often visibility was so bad that Ray was compelled to fly at about only 100 feet for many miles. The last leg of his homeward journey of 400 miles,was covered in 4 hours, 10 minutes— a very respectable performance.