The Wrong Spirit.
It is amazing to find, in the present state of motoring development, so many otherwise intelligent beings who, while displaying a great eagerness to discourse on the subject of motoring in general and speed in particular, display such a complete lack of knowledge of their subject. Not long ago we listened to a debate on the subject of the speed limit, which was broadcast, and which made one feel that the greatest failing of the wonderful invention of radio broadcasting is that there is no means of answering it back. One of the speakers on this occasion was Mr. A. P. Herbert, who has now entirely abandoned his sense of humour to become a Very Serious Person, in fact a sort of Lord High Pedestrian. In the above mentioned debate he stood in favour of a speed limit on the grounds that it would decrease accidents. This of course is a most desirable end and one which every thinking person will wish to help to attain. But what seemed to us to make the whole argument appear ridiculous was, firstly, that the gentleman who took the other side of the discussion appeared to have extremely little idea of what he was discussing, while Mr. Herbert’s remarks about motorists revealed only too plainly that he belongs to the days before the repeal of the Red Flag Act. To say that his remarks were prejudiced is about as adequate as saying that the Eiffel Tower is higher than a pillar box. He started with the mistake of referring to motorists and pedestrians as if they were too entirely separate breeds, the one pursued remorselessly by the other. He seems to forget, as do many people when taking sides in such an argument, that such a division is a complete fallacy. All motorists walk on occasion, and the pedestrian who never travels in a car or at least in some form of road vehicle must be rare indeed.
Therefore references to motor cars as being loaded weapons, and a source of danger and death which ought to be suppressed, as far as we could understand Mr. Herbert, by a form of martial law, seem rather uncalled for. Surely there is sufficient proof of prejudice in his absurd content on that there was no reason why a man on foot should take as much precaution against accident as the man on wheels. What is required to reduce road casualties is not such a vindictive spirit, but an effort at co-operation for the common safety. It is gratifying to see that the Daily Press have now started a campaign to remind people not to walk dangerously, and we feel sure that if the average man were as careful on foot as he is when driving a car the casualties would be very substantially reduced.
Ourselves and Flying.
If we are to believe some of our critics, we as a nation are sadly lacking in air-mindedness. This contention is based mainly on the fact that while the numbers of privately owned planes in other countries are steadily increasing, those in England remain well below the two hundred mark. But does statistical comparison of this sort have any real bearing on the implication ? The conditions in this country are so vastly different to, say, America for the development of civil aviation and especially private flying. People are apt to overlook the very large munber of private citizens who hold pilot’s certificates. They cannot all own machines, as quite apart from the cost of the machine, there is in the majority of cases a lack of facility for landing and housing, and therefore many enthusiasts prefer to do their flying on a club machine from the nearest aerodrome.
Although aerodromes will increase in number the natural characteristics of the country will always prevent quite the number of machines being in use in proportion to the population, that one finds in countries like America, and some of our Dominions. But this is no reason to show pessimism about our air ability. Nearly all the greatest achievements in air history have been accomplished by us, sometimes comparatively unnoticed. Alcock and Brown flew the Atlantic eleven years ago, and the interval before it was crossed again by a plane was so great that many people seemed to have forgotten that it had ever been done before—in a way a demonstration of how far ahead of its time the first conquest was made.
The De Havilland Aircraft Company have their machines being made under license in most of the chief countries in the world, surely again sufficient proof that we are recognised as being well up to date.
We do not wish to boast of our successes or rest on our laurels, such as the Schneider Trophy and the world’s speed record, but surely a country which can produce machines and men whose names stand high the world over in the annals of aviation cannot be charged with taking unkindly to the air.