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53

WE MAY HOPE FOR A BRIGHTER FLYING SEASOA THIS YEAR PYLON RACING TO BE REVIVED AND PLANS FOR AN “INTERNATIONAL AVIATION WEEK” FORMULATED.

FOR several years now it has been a matter for regret that the organisation of air races and flying competitions has been greatly neglected in this country, and with the end of the Schneider Trophy Contest in September of last year the paucity of really sporting aviation events became strikingly apparent.

This lamentable state of affairs is brought into increased relief when one realises how great has been the progress made in aeroplane races in other countries, particularly America, and further when one recalls that the sport reached a high degree of popularity in England in the years immediately preceding the War. Since the early post-War years the running of races and the holding of meetings and competitions has been carried on in a woefully fitful manner, and it cannot be denied that the few annual events as we have had, have deteriorated in interest and organisation with each succeeding year, reaching a climax in 1931 when the King’s Cup Race regulations were so framed as to debar “the trade” from entering machines and prevented the pro

fessional civil pilot from participating.

The criticism which resulted from this action of the organisers, the Royal Aero Club, and the closing of the last chapter in the Schneider Trophy directed attention to the whole question of British flying events, and, fortunately, this has had the effect of arousing renewed interest amongst responsible bodies and individuals associated with avi-. ation.

How to improve matters, and how to present sporting aviation fixtures so as to make a wider appeal to the public were questions which, during the past few months, have received a great deal of attention, and it is pleasing to find that in two separate quarters plans have been laid to introduce a series of events which, if they materialise, should “fill the bill” during the coming season. In the first instance, plans have been drawn up for an” International Aviation Week” by the Air League, and one gathers that this would be staged on somewhat similar lines to the National Air Races in the U.S.A. which !occupy ten clear days at Cleveland aerodrome, Ohio. Th9, whole programme is a stupendous

affair with races and competitions for all types of aircraft, from the motor-cycle-engined single seaters to boosted out-and-out racers.

In addition to machines and pilots competing from all parts of America, representatives attend from foreign lands, and the vast crowds who flock to Cleveland Field are accommodated in huge grand stands and enclosures. Every conceivable feature connected with aviation finds a place in the programme, from the flying of ancient veteran craft, to displays of delayed and massed chute drops, and, one is told, there is not a dull moment throughout the whole ten days. Of course, it is not expected that the Air League’s scheme would incorporate a programme framed on so large a scale, nor is it necessary since the spectacular items are provided in the Royal Air Force Display. But races and competitions of an international character in which it would be possible to see French, German, Dutch, Italian and American and other foreign machines matched against British pilots and ‘planes would be a most welcome innovation, and one which would undoubtedly prove a big

attraction. A cosmopolitan entry always creates an added interest in any contest, and the appearance of unfamiliar foreign machines in this country during the holding of the German ” Runflug ” last year made one wishful at the time that an English counterpart figured in our calendar of aviation fixtures. Well, if the plans of the Air League bear fruit, that wish may be fulfilled.

Naturally, any scheme of such dimensions as this “International Aviation Week” will require a good deal of careful preparation—especially if it is to be a success and not, as some of our events have been, a mis-managed fiasco—and so far only the barest preliminaries have been worked upon, but how ever long we may have to wait for its completion and final presentation, one may feel some satisfaction that it is a move most definitely in the right direction. In considering the possibilities of the revival of aeroplane racing, one’s memory instinctively goes back to the years 1912, 1913, and 1914, when the sporting side of flying was in its heyday. To modern eyes the craft of those days would appear crude and ridiculously slow, but the keenness and sound stage-management which was to be found behind the scenes made those far-off preWar meetings at Hendon outstandingly successful. And it will be generally conceded by those who can remember them, that the pylon races, which were a feature of those week-end meetings, provided the 20,000 spectators with something well worth watching. There were handicap races in which some halfdozen machines took part, and to see these roaring round the pylons within the aerodrome, sometimes at 100 feet, sometimes just skimming the ground, was to experience a thrill which eighteen years has not erased. Hence, the quite-natural query—Why was pylon racing dropped ? It is admittedly difficult to run a long race which embraces a course of hundreds of miles, so that the attention, interest and excitement of the spectator is constantly sustained ; there is a tendency to long periods of inactivity while the competitors are traversing the route at far-distant points, and the arrival and departure at controls and turning points often carry no atmosphere of close contest, no “neck and neck” business as it were. But in pylon racing each event is crowded with incident from the time the machines leave the starting line in sweeping climbing turns till they flash by in a crowded splitseconds finish. A AnyQ how, V what ever the

reasons may have been for its nonrevival in post war years, it is good news for those who have been advocating its return that 1932 will see the pylon in c nco rpo r

ated in future aviation meetings. For this forms part of a scheme which Messrs. Nigel Norman and Alan Mtmtz of Heston. Airport, have been working on for some time. Mr. Norman paid a visit to the States last year, and one would hazard a guess that his decision to organise pylon racing (which incidentally originated in Britain) has been largely influenced by what he

saw and what he heard of it in America during his stay there.

With his partner Mr. Norman intends to arrange races at Brooklands over a ten mile circuit marked by pylons, with turning points within the aerodrome and at places just outside, and the competing machines will be in full view over most of the course. When the scheme, which is at present in the embryo state, materialises (probably in September) Track habitués will find a further attraction at Weybridge. Certainly with these new projects, and a better King’s Cup Race (which will be flown in two sections and will occupy two days early in July), the position, so far as sporting flying fixtures are concerned, is a great deal brighter than it has been for a good many years, and one hopes that

1932 will signalise a new and brighter phase in the hitherto neglected pastime of aviation racing in this country.