After a lapse of several years, manufacturers are again turning their attention to the small, simple single-seater machine. One found examples of this type of 'plane at the Aero Show last year and since that time details have been made public of one or two newcomers.
In discussing the matter of the cheap single-seater craft in the past one found a certain divergence of opinion. Designers and people associated with the aircraft industry generally dismissed the suggestion that there was a certain market for it and raised numerous objections.
The majority of people who buy aeroplanes. they asserted, have had either no flying experience as pilots at all, or else have flown two-seater machines for a very limited number of hours. Therefore, a single-seater would prove to be no attraction to them. Again, people do not like travelling about alone—otherwise there would be single-seater motor cars—and the private-owner inevitably wishes to share his aviation with a friend. All this sounds quite reasonable, but while these arguments may have held good some years ago there is the fact that there are numbers of club members who by this time have piled up a sufficient number of solo-flying hours to entitle them to consider themselves capable of flying a single-seater machine without difficulty. It is these people who have been agitating for this type of 'plane for some time, and who will now welcome its appearance as a production job.
Brooklands in Wintertime.
One of the bright things about aviation is that it is not a seasonal business as is motor racing. This was forcibly brought home to me when I visited Brooklands recently. Had I been a racing " fan " I am sure the dismal spectacle of the great track as I saw it on that occasion would have filled me with acute depression. The entrance road, the paddock, the sheds—all were damp and extremely desolate. Even the stout fellows who at this time of the year add some animation to the scene, as they sprawl over the concrete, levelling out the bumps for Cobb and Co., had taken their departure, leaving behind their barriers, barrows and buckets as the only evidence that the place had not been completely deserted for years. Then I wended my way round to the aeroplane sheds and found an amazing amount of activity and the Brooklands School of Flying seemed to be busier than ever . Their Avros and Moths were all in active operation and Captain Davis told me that in spite of the bad weather the work of his school had gone on with very little interruption.
Incidentally, I should say that no other school in the world has a finer or more experienced staff of instructors than that of the B.S.F. Captain Davis washimself graded " A1 " at the School of Special Flying of the R.F.C. in the dim past and since that time he has been teaching people the art of aviation almost without a break. He has as able assistants, Mr. E. A. Jones who has been flying for over fourteen years and has now completed 5,000 hours as a pilot ; Mr. C. M. Pickthorn, who commanded a squadron during the War and was for a lengthy period a chief instructor to the Chilean Air Force and Mr. R. Y. Bush, who has an impressive total of flying hours to his credit.
The " fly-the-Atlantic " mania which followed Lindbergh's epic flight has died down now but not before many courageous but over-confident people of comparatively limited flying experience have lost their lives in futile attempts. Ambitious amateurs are still gaining fleeting notoriety, however, in the lay press by setting out on light 'planes to fly to distant parts of the globe—only to finish up ignominously with a write-off or partial write-off within a few days of making their start. Generally the cause of their failure can be traced to insufficient knowledge of navigation rather than lack of skill in handling their machines. It seems a pity that these people do not realise the vital importance of navigation and undergo a thorough course of instruction before setting out on such flights.
I had no idea, until I visited the works of Messrs. Mee, at Greenwich, how extensive is the business of model 'plane making or how large a following there is for model flying.
I did not attempt to count the number of Mr. Mee's employees, but as I walked through the various shops I was surprised to find so many work-people engaged in making model 'planes of numerous types and sizes. Mr. Mee showed me a sheaf of orders he had received just previous to the day of my call, from Norway, Switzerland, France, and even America and amongst his many English customers are Squadron-Leaders of the R.A.F., several " reverends " and, of course, boy scouts.
He has a drawing office staff and experiments are constantly being made with different types of machines. I was most interested in two special racing models which he showed me, the perfect streamlining of which rivalled that of any full-sized 'plane I have ever seen.
Besides the manufacture and marketing of toy aeroplanes, Mr. Mee's firm., I understand, also does a considerable amount of work for the National Physical Laboratory in connection with its aeronautical research.