WHAT AMERICA IS DOING
WHAT AMERICA IS DOING TREND OF AVIATION IN THE U.S.A.
WHILE England can claim with every justification to be the builder of the World’s fastest aircraft, the finest aero engines, and to be the pioneer of the light aeroplane and flying club, we have to look to America to find a whole-hearted move towards “air-mindedness,” and a fearless attitude on the part of designers and constructors in producing machines which do not always slavishly follow conventional practice. There is no doubt that the U.S.A. is going ahead in the business of aeronautics. Their air lines are extensive, well equipped and run on efficient lines. And flying has become an accepted form of travel. Ordinary people who are not flying enthusiasts and who have no desire to be pilots are, nevertheless, regular passengers and take
aerial transport as a matter of course. Compared with this state of affairs, our own internal commercial aviation is quite insignificant. This is easily explained, of course, since America with its vast territory offers tremendous scope for the commercial aeroplane, while at the same time, it does not have to compete with the railways to the same extent as is found in Britain. In spite of the derision so often meted out to our rail system, it is1a
fact that we have 20,000 miles of rails whereby one can go to nearly every part of the country ; in America, Texas has the most complete railroad system of any of the states, with 16,890 miles. Yet Texas is about five times as big as this country. Therefore, the American ‘air liner” has, to a large degree, a distinct pull. The progress thus being made in commercial aviation is helping flying all round, and the demand for machines suitable for private owners is steadily on the increase and it is in this field that one finds many interesting developments. The variety of types is remarkable, and while in this country light aeroplane design has settled down to follow stereotyped practice, in America the range is far more extensive. The conventional singlebay biplane with an engine of about 100 h.p. is found in considerable numbers, and it is gratifying to see that the Avro ” Avian ” and the D.H. ” Moth ” are both being made there under licence. But in addition to these, there are many other types. The low-powered “pip-squeak,” which was long ago rejected over here, finds a place in the U.S. market and some firms who make them have met with notable success. There is the little Heath parasol monoplane for example, which is powered with a modified four cylinder Henderson motor cycle engine. This ‘plane has been manufactured for several years now, and its practicability has been demonstrated on many occasions in some of the most important races and competitions. It is interesting to find that its manufacturers, the Heath Aircraft Corporation of Michigan, not only sell it as the complete article, but offer to supply it in parts to be” built at
home.” Incidentally, the amateur constructor is well catered for in the U.S.A. and numbers of firms supply materials, and small engines to such enthusiasts. There are also several firms now who build gliders and sailplanes, and most of them are ready to supply their products in parts, as is done by the Heath concern. Midway between the ” pip-squeak ” class and the 100 h.p. type of machine, comes another form of light ‘plane, a typical example of which is found in the Eaglet high-wing monoplane, built by the American EagleLincoln Aircraft Corporation. Mainly of metal, this craft is a two-seater of very simple design and powered with a 45 h.p. three-cylinder ” Y ” Szekely motor. Another machine of rather similar build—a high-wing monoplane, is the Rearwin “Junior.” This has wings of wooden construction, but the fuselage is built up of welded steel tubing. The Rearwin is obtainable with either a 37 h.p. or a 45 h.p. three-cylinder “V “-type engine. Both these aeroplanes are of the open cockpit type and fitted with dual control, but there are also one or two examples of low-powered cabin ..monoplanes,
and some of these are astonishingly low in price and yet very completely equipped, as for instance, the Alexander. This craft is a strut-braced highwing monoplane with a 38 h.p. Continental power unit. Airwheels, dual control, and a full set of instruments are included in the standard specification, and the whole is a wellbuilt job. Yet its price is round about 1.,360. Of course, these
machines of modest horse-power are not wonderfully fast or good on the climb, but they are safe, quite comfortable to fly and cheap in upkeep and first cost. They, therefore, fill a definite need.
But the “pip-squeak,” the low-powered two-seater, and the orthodox light aeroplane do not complete the entire range of machines which are being offered to the American private-owner. What might be called super-sports models are being developed, and a very astonishing ‘plane which comes into this category is the Gee Bee Senior Sportster two-seater. Built very decidedly as a speed outfit, it is a lowwing wire-braced monoplane with a Pratt and Whitney ” Wasp ” engine, and it has a speed of 200 m.p.h. Its manufacturers have recently introduced a singleseater, and flown by Lowell R. Bayles, it won the Thompson Trophy Race, during the National Air Race meeting held at Cleveland some time ago, at an average speed of 236.239 m.p.h. As with the two-seater, the engine is a Pratt and Whitney ” Wasp ” tuned up to give off 535 and in general arrangement the two machines are As can be seen from the illustration, the pilot placed well back in the fuselage, in fact one could say he is sitting on the tail. A streamlined domed cover drops over the top of the cockpit to make completely enclosed. The fuselage, which is of welded tube, is very plump and gives an impression of abnormally close coupled. The wings are wooden fabric covered with metal ailerons, operated by rods and fulcrums. The span is only 23 feet inches, and with a lifting surface area of but 75 square it is not surprising that the landing speed is in the of 80 m.p.h. and the top speed is 270 The Gee Bee is obviously not a machine for anybut an experienced pilot, but it is interesting both the engineering standpoint, and as an indication of private flying may progress in America in the near