” SWIFT ” FLIES to AUSTRALIA BUTLER’S MAGNIFICENT FLIGHT.
THE complete practicability of the ultra-small and comparatively lowpowered aeroplane for really serious work was demonstrated as it never has been before when, on the 9th of last month, Mr. C. A. Butler completed a flight from this country to Australia in 9 days 2 hours 29 minutes in a Pobjoy-engined Comper “Swift.”
Not only is his performance outstanding by reason of the fact that it breaks the previous record set up by C. W. A. Scott by 1 hour 42 minutes, but it is also noteworthy since the” Swift ” is the smallest, lightest and lowest-powered British aircraft in regular production.
It was on 28th October that Butler took off from Heston to travel to Lympne with the intention of leaving the latter aerodrome on his record-breaking attempt. His departure, however, was delayed for three days owing to the non-arrival of a permit to allow him to fly over Persia, He left on 31st October at 5.17 a.m. and reached Naples at 6 p.m. on the same day ; the next day he resumed his flight at 7.10 in the morning to arrive at Athens at 4.15 p.m., after a stop en route for fuel. Keeping to the schedule he had fixed for himself, Butler continued on 2nd November, and reached successively Aleppo and Bagdhad. Then, on the next day (3rd November) he sped on to Basra and j ask—a distance of over 1,000 miles.
Early morning on the 4th found the little ” Swift ” still going strong at Karachi, where after a brief halt, it proceeded to Jansi and Calcutta.
At the latter aerodrome, Butler was held up for some time by very bad weather —heavy rain and high winds ; nevertheless, he managed to put in an appearance at Akyab on the afternoon of 5th November, and on the following day he took off once more on the hop to Rangoon, where he filled up with petrol before carrying on to Victoria Point. Here again the weather conditions were against him, and a very strong head wind jeopardised his hopes of retaining the lead he had gained over Scott’s time. But, both pilot and machine were in fine fettle, and after a very trying flight he got to Batavia on the evening of 7th November. Butler was now nearing the most hazardous stretch of his wonderful flight—the long over-sea crossing to his destination. Leaving Batavia in the early hours of
morning on 8th November he carried on to Koepang, and there he landed. A brief rest, a final look over engine and airframe, and he headed for the open sea and Darwin on the following day. Good luck was with him, and at 4.23 p.m. he glided down and landed safely on Australian soil, to receive the cheers and congratulations of a large crowd who had been anxiously awaiting his arrival.
As has been said, his time for the whole long journey of 10,425 miles was 9 days 2 hours 29 minutes, and he thus holds the record for the England-Australia route, which by now has been flown quite a considerable number of times. Mr. Butler is a native of Birmingham, but several years ago he went to Australia where he took up flying as a profession. Having trained as an engineer, he joined the Larkin concern, and after qualifying as a ground engineer he learned to fly, bought an old Avro and started on his own account in the ” joy-riding ” business. Ultimately he returned to the Larkin Company, piloting machines for them on the Murray Valley Line. Besides being a skilful pilot and ground engineer, Butler is also something of a designer and constructor, for last year he built a singleseater high-wing monoplane of his own. Of metal construction and fitted with a ” Cirrus-Hermes ” Mark II engine, this machine flew with considerable success,
and was remarkable for its wide speed range.
In. regard to the ” Swift ” which performed so splendidly, with the exception of the installation of extra petrol tanks, both engine and machine were quite standard. Put into production sometime last year, the ” Swift” is a 24-foot span high-wing monoplane, with several clever features. The fuselage, for instance, which is made of wood, is built up in three separate parts ; the front portion is secured to the centre part by four bolts, and is therefore easily removed for reconditioning or repair, and all three sections are replaceable as separate units. The main planes and tail plane are also made of wood, the former being of the folding type, and braced by vee-struts. When folded back, the width is only 8 feet, 6 inches.
The Pobjoy engine, which is fitted to the machine, is made by the Comper Company’s associated concern, Pobjoy Airmotors, Ltd. It is a seven-cylindered air-cooled radial of 75 rated h.p. and is light for the power it gives off. For an aircraft engine, the Pobjoy runs at high r.p.m., hence its high-power weight ratio. The propellor is geared, and besides being an extremely dependable unit, as Butler’s flight has abundantly proved, it has as another salient feature, extreme flexibility and smoothness of running.