HIS REPEATS ITSELF THE LIGHT AEROPLANE MOVEMENT OF 1924 IS INITIATED ONCE AGAIN BY THE LOWE-WYLDE “PLANETTE”
WHEN aircraft designers turned their attention to popular civil flying after the War, they produced a number of small machines with low-powered motor-cycle engines. On the grounds that these light aircraft were not capable of dealing with heavy weather, they were abandoned in favour of larger types, which gradually increased in size until the socalled ” light ” aeroplane became as Powerful as most pre-war fully fledged machines. For some years MOTOR SPORT has
advocated a return to the really light aeroplane, not for utility purposes in all weathers, but as a pleasurable amusement, and we have been of the opinion that such a machine would eventually come to oust the glider—with its attendant time and trouble for a very short flight—from popularity.
Now the cycle has been completed by the introduction of the 6-h.p. ultra-light aeroplane by 1VIr. C. H. Lowe-Wylde, who is well known as England’s pioneer glider manufacturer. In order to demonstrate the extraordinary qualities of this interesting design, National Flying Services Ltd. recently arranged a PylonRace meeting at the London Air Park, Feltham.
Let us say at once that we were delighted with the capabilities of the new 6-h.p. aeroplanes, and we prophesy a big future for pylonracing with them. On the more practical side, no finer way could be found of getting prospective pilots used to being in control of a machine in the air, and a course of instruction on a Planette would be much cheaper and just as effective as the normal methods in use to-day.
The meeting opened with a fourlap race between C. J. Longmore, W. A. Andrews, Capt. E. D. Ayre and C. H. Lowe-Wylde, which was won by the latter. In the next event, however, Longmore turned the tables on Lowe-Wylde, who was second. There seemed to be little difference in the speed of the four machines, a lead being gained entirely on cornering skill. Then Capt. Ayre went up alone, and gave us a very pretty exhibition of crazy flying, with his wing-tips only a few feet from the ground. Then came some match races between people well known in flying and motoring circles. In the first heat Kaye Don was pitted against Flt.-Lt. Stainforth, and by dint of steep cornering close in to the pylons beat the Schneider Trophy pilot by a good margin. Then Mrs. Victor
Bruce and Mr. C. W. A. Scott were sent away, but the lady pilot cut a corner a bit too fine and flew over a pylon, instead of round it, and so was disqualified. The third heat was between Wing Commander Probyn and Flying Officer Leech, the latter winning through Wing Commander Probyn being disqualified. In the final Scott beat Don.
Two other interesting items were races between a Planette, piloted by Mr. Andrews, and a horse, ridden by the Master of Sempill. The machine had to fly as slowly as possible, with the result that the horse had an easy win. Then Stainforth had a real race with the Master of Sempill, giving him half a lap start, and beating the horse amid great excitement by 2/5ths sec.
Finally, in order to demonstrate the general good behaviour of the little craft, a Follow-my-Leadc r show was given. On the next day Mr. Lowe-Wylde carried out an altitude test. After passing through two cloud layers he reached a height of 4,300 feet, when his petrol supply became exhausted. This is no reflection of the machine’s inability to climb still higher, for only one gallon is carried, and when the engine stopped the official barograph was recording a rate of climb
of 120 feet per minute. The machine was carrying a load of 45 lbs. per horse power. An interesting advantage of the Planette over normal aircraft is the extraordinary gliding range. This is accounted for by the fact that the Planette is in fact a Lowe-Wylde glider, with a 6-h.p. Douglas engine super-imposed. From a height of
4,000 feet it is estimated that a pilot has an area of nine square miles in which to choose his landing ground, a fact which should largely counteract the handicap of having only a 2-cylinder motor—even if it is of the undoubted reliability for which Douglas products are renowned. So far no statement has been
issued by the Air Ministry in regard to recognising the Planette as an approved type, but the Director of Civil Aviation was an interested spectator at the demonstration at Feltham, and the official attitude towards the machine will be eagerly awaited by all interested in the development of popular aviation.