” RUDDER-BA R.”
The Caterpillar Club.
That very select body, the Caterpillar Club, was called to mind a few weeks ago when two Service pilots extricated themselves from a most terrific and perilous position, following a collision in mid-air, by leaping to safety with their parachutes. This unpremeditated act automatically made them el:gible for membership to the Club which is undoubtedly one of the most unique and exclusive bodies in the world. Its founder is Mr. Leslie Irvin, the American inventor of the Irvin Air ‘Chute, which has been for some years a standard part of the equipment of the R.A.F.
Membership to his club is made possible by only one means—by saving one’s life by the use of a parachute and, once one has been elected, one remains a member for life. Those who qualify receive from Mr. Irvin a little insignia in the form of a gold caterpillar scarf-pin and amongst the names which figure in the list of memberships are those of Lindbergh and D’Arcy Grieg. The late” Tiny’ Scholefield was, I believe, the first English pilot to be enrolled.
Mr. Irvin, by the way, besides being a pioneer of parachute construction, is also a pilot and an experienced parachutist. He owns a ” Moth ” and uses it extensively in connection with his business, the English headquarters of which are situated at Letchworth, Herts. He has made ‘chute jumps on hundreds of occasions and made his first descent when scarcely in his ‘teens.
The Noise Nuisance.
One of our most famous pilots, who is also a shrewd man of business, told a friend of mine recently, that one of the big problems which manufacturers of commercial aircraft have got to tackle is that of noise. And the solution is not an easy one : it is not so much a question of silencing engines as diminishing vibrations set up by airscrews and much of the discomfort experienced by passengers in cabin machines is due, I understand, to the latter. I was interested to hear, also, that airsickness is just as likely to be brought on by noise as by uneven movements of a ‘plane in bumpy weather. With open cockpit machines the noise question is not so serious I think, for there is no drumming and resonance as there is inside a cabin. Some time ago Imperial Airways carried out some extensive research work on a number of their machines in connection with their attempts to lessen the noise nuisance, but I am unacquainted with the results obtained.
Flying by Instruments.
The lay press appear to have been greatly intrigued recently by the ” hood” arrangement over the rear cockpit designed for instructing pupils in blind flying which has been fitted to a Hawker “Tom-Tit “, and hailed it as the very latest innovation. Actually, of
course, this system was utilised in the R.F.C. and R.A.F. as long ago as 1917, as many readers will remember. In a similar way, the daily press are always ready to express mild wonder at anyone completing a successful first solo flight after what is really a considerable number of hours of dual, and appear to be entirely ignorant of the fact that in the war years anything between 40 minutes and 4 hours was considered enough before sending a pupil solo.
The Motor Trade and Plane Sales.
An interesting development has become public regarding the well-known London motor concern of Henlys Ltd. This is that they have made arrangements to conduct sales of new and second-hand aircraft on what may be regarded as an extensive scale. Not only do they intend to utilise one of their London showrooms for the display of aeroplanes, but in addition they have purchased a site near the London air terminus which will be used as an aerodrome for demonstrating ma
• chines ; hangars and workshops are to be erected there, where service work and garaging of customers’ planes can be carried out in the most up-to-date style.
R.101 and R.100.
R.101 has passed an unpremeditated test in riding out the recent gale at her mooring mast at Cardington : the severity of the test has been sufficient to quell some of the doubters.
R.100, the sister-ship which has been built at Howden may have left on her preliminary trials before these words appear in print : there is a good deal of conjecture in flying circles as to the personnel.
It seems certain that Major Scott will be in command, and I hear on good authority that Plight-Lieutenant Major may be the navigator : the latter officer, it will be recollected, was to have been navigator to Squadron Leader Jones-Williams on his attempt to capture the world’s distance record in the Fairey Napier monoplane.
The machine in question is now at Cranwell awaiting suitable weather for a second attempt and Squadron Leader Jones-Williams tells me that he is confident of reaching Cape Town this time.
The subject of records is a sore one in flying circles at the moment following the Government announcement of withdrawal of official teams from the Schneider Trophy contests—a direct reversal of the Prime Minister’s statements after this year’s success.
Actually, the move is merely an economic one ; the aircraft firms, participating in the events in future will bear the cost of production instead of the taxpayer. The Government is unlikely to make difficulties over lending suitable pilots however.