THE QUEST FOR ECONOMICAL FLYING
A BRIEF REVIEW OF PRESENT-DAY ” CYCLE-CARS-OF-THE-SKY “
After the Armistice numbers of optimistic people sought to tap the latent market which existed for a motor vehicle to suit the million and, opening up tiny workshops in all manner of queer locations, they cheerfully set about producing still queerer motor-cars.
In the majority of cases a V-twin aircooled motor-cycle engine, much three-ply wood and a few iron-castings constituted the main functions, th;! production models came straight off the drawing hoards and the optimistic designers gladly allowed the super-optimistic purchasers (fortunately few in number) to bear the burden of experimental testing. Whether something useful would have resulted from these efforts we were never able to discern, for in 1022 Lord Austin, after pencilling upon his billiardtable, we are told, produced the now immortal Austin Seven and what stragglers from the cycle-car era remained threw up the sponge and fled. Nevertheless, those early and more ex-Citing efforts to eater for the motoring millenium are a source of interest to imaginative students of motoring history, or to those super-optimiSts who are still %Vith us and for whom Time has painted a rosy halo around belt-repairing episodes on black wet nights. To other folk the demise of the touring cycle-car is hardly a subject for lament, and that aeronautical apostles toyed with the idea of 500-750 c.c. single-seat aeroplanes even before the Austin Seven car had been launched, is well nigh incredible. Yet there was a very good entry for the Daily Mail Light Aeroplane Contests staged at Lympne in 1923. It is only necessary to picture an early post-war twin-cylinder motor-cycle of limited capacity held flat-out round and round Brooklands Track for any length
of time to become possessed of a warm admiration for the pluck of those who ..squeezed themselves into the cockpits of these remarkable motorised-gliders. But perhaps one’s admiration -hardly extends to the organisers, who, in the following year, specified that competing aircraft must be genuine two-seaters, while sanctioning an increase in motor swept-volume of only 350 c.c. In spite of incredible labours on the part of most of our leading aeroplane designers, and the introduction of proper small capacity aero-motors, the results were not sufficiently encouraging to further the case for the ultra-light when the Cirrusmotored D.H. ” Moth ” came along to play the role of Austin Seven.
Recently M. Mignet wrote his book and intrigued a lot of young men into building Flying Fleas to his specification. That certain errors had crept into the English version of Mignet’s book did not contribute to the satety-factor of a machine that was subsequently discovered to possess inherent flying tricks of a very nasty nature. Whether further loss of life was prevented by the inability of remaining ” Poux ” to leave ” terrafirma ” or by the influence of C. G. Grey of “The Aeroplane,” it would be difficult to decide. But although the ” Pon ” is in disgrace, there are going on all round plenty of optimistic efforts to meet the demand for economic aviating, which seem to correspond pretty closely to that fascinating cycle-car boom of a decade and a half ago. We do not profess to forecast the future of these tiny flyingmachines, either from the view-point of their suitability for their purpose, or from an analysis of the demand that is deemed to exist for them, but we feel that a brief review will interest those who
do not see the flying-papers regularly, yet who confess to an interest in aviation affairs.
The best-known ultra-light is the Kronfield Drone. The Drone was originated by the late C. H. Lowe-Wylde, and is now sponsored by Robert Kronfield, the world-famous gliding exponent, with headquarters at the London Air Park, Feltham.
The Super Drone is a high-wing braced monoplane, with a 750 c.c. Douglas motor driving a pusher airscrew. The pilot occupies the nose and the engine sits up above the wing. The price is .075, the cruising speed 60 m.p.h., and the maximum speed 70 m.p.h. A Drone De Luxe is offered, powered with a fourCylinder dual ignition Carden-Ford fourcylinder motor, which puts up the cruising speed to 62 m.p.h., and the maximum to 75 m.p.h. Both machines land at less than the pace motorists are allowed to maintain in towns, and thirty Drones are in use in this country, and seventy in France.
The Broughton-Blayney is a singleseat high-wing monoplane of wooden construction, with fabric covered wings, metal braced. It has a range of about 2i hours’ flying at 75 m.p.h. and is made by a firm that had considerable experience with ” Poux.” The price will be 1295 or 025 with Certificate Of Airworthiness, and the Motor is a 32 h.p. Carden-Ford. The Dart aeroplanes are made atDunstable. Wooden construction is employed, with spruce members and bakelite-glued birch plywood. The ” Pup ” is a singleseat high-wing monoplane with pusher airscrew driven by a 35 h.p. Bristol Cherub engine. It cruises at 75 m.p.h., reaches 85 m.p.h., and lands at 40 m.p.h. The wings are swept-back and wheel
brakes assist the landings. The ” Flittermouse’ is, in effect, a sailplane with a 25 h.p. Scott two-stroke motor capable of 64 m.p.h., or a sustained speed of 53 m.p.h. The tail is mounted on booms and easy dismantling for transport is a feature. The “Kitten” will soon undergo flying tests. It is a low-wing monoplane seating one, with a 25 h.p. Ava motor.
The Luton ” Buzzard ” is another pusher single-seat low-wing monoplane of exceptionally clean aerodynamic design, which can be had with 34 h.p. Scott twostroke, or 28 h.p. Sprite motors. A notable feature is the provision of split flaps to steepen the gliding angle and to lower the landing speed. The cruising speed is 75 m.p.h. and the maximum 85 m.p.h., and landing speed well under 30 m.p.h. The Luton ” Minor ” is a parasol-wing monoplane powered with the 25 h.p. ” Sprite ” aero engine, the speed range being from 30 m.p.h. to 85 m.p.h. The outstanding feature of the ” Minor ” is its very low price of £150, this being considerably less than that of any other aeroplane on the market, whilst sets of drawings and materials are also available for the home constructor. The works of Luton Aircraft Ltd., are at Gerrards Cross.
The Desoutter-Shackleton two-seat pusher monoplane is a closed-cabin machine, combined product of A. M. Desoutter and the well-known aeronautical consulting engineer, W. S. Shackleton.
The Tipsy is a Belgian production designed by 0. E. Tipps of the Fairey establishment in Belgium, and now to be made under licence by Tipsy Aircraft of Hayes, Middlesex. It is a singleseater open cockpit low-wing monoplane of plywood box construction, with single spar wing having a subsidiary rear spar, plywood covered leading edge and a main covering of fabric. The Tipsy is easy to fly and to land, and with a 500 c.c. Douglas motor it does 96 m.p.h., cruises at 70 and lands at 43 ni.p.h.
The Duke of Richmond and Gordon, well known in motor-racing circles, has produced a side-by-side two-seat cabin low-wing monoplane in conjunction with Edmund H.ordern. A special aim towards greater safety has been made by using two 40 h.p. Continental flat-four motors. The cruising-speed is approximately 85 m.p.h. at 2,350 r.p.m., and the range is three hours with plenty of luggage aboard.
The Heston Aircraft Co. is interested, and production may be undertaken in due course.
The foregoing machines have not done a great deal of serious flying between them, but there are three better established aeroplanes of low power. The Aeronca is now built in this country, with a 38 h.p. Aeronca-J.A.P. flat-twin motor. It is a high-wing cabin monoplane, seating two persons side by side. It has spruce spars and wood ribs and fabric-covered wings with wire bracings. The fuselage is of welded steel tubes and the specification embraces low-pressure air-wheels and differential wheel brakes.. The Aeronca cruises at 75 to 80 m.p.h. on 2i gallons per hour, with an all-out speed of 93 m.p.h. The price is 995. It lands at 35 m.p.h. and climbs to 12 000 feet.
The Hillson Praga, made by F. Hills and Sons Ltd., of Manchester, is a British version of the Czechoslovakian Praga Baby. It is a side-by-side two-seater high-wing monoplane of conventional plywood box construction, with a plywood-covered wooden cantilever wing. The motor is a flat-twin Praga B36 of 86 h.p. The top speed is over 93 m.p.h., the cruising speed 79i m.p.h., the range ai hours, the landing speed 37 m.p.h., and the rate of climb 1,310 ft. ir three minutes. The wing design of the Praga is said to eliminate spinning. The price is E,435. Yet another side-by-side two-seater cabin high-wing monoplane is the Taylor
” Cub,” of which hundreds an in use in America. The motor is a Continental air-cooled flat-four of 40 h.p. The cruising speed is 75 m.p.h. at 21gallons per hour, ard the maximum 93 m.p.h. at 2,500 r.p.m. All-metal construction is employed, with fabric covering. The range is four hours. A. J. Waiter, of Tollerton Airport, Notts., handks the Taylor ii this cour try, and the price is 1460, or £480 with dual ignition.
The last three machines have already performed well in English handicap races, and both the Aeronca and the Praga have made flights from London to the Cape.
Another mode of attack is found in the Foster-Wickner ” Wicko ” two-seat cabin high-wing monoplane of 90 h.p., which sells at £452 by reason of its motor being a normal Ford V8 car engine provided with dual ignition. The motor runs up to 3,300 r.p.m., with the propeller geared down to 1,500 r.p.m. The top speed is approximately 115 m.p.h. and the cruising speed 105 m.p.h. at 3,000 r.p.m. The wings are of conventional wood and fabric construction and the fuselage is of plywood box construction on the lines of the Desoutter design. Au 85 h.p. Cirrus motor will be available, naturally at greater cost.
For truly economical practical flying a horse-power of more than twenty-five and less than fifty seems to be indicated. Suitable engines now on the market are the Sprite, British-Anzani, British Salmson AD9, Carden, Scott ” Flying Squirrel,” Coventry-Victor Flat-Four and Weir, apart from American and Continental products.
We hope that this brief introduction to the present state of affairs will be of interest if, as aeronautical people believe, the future of the ultra-light aeroplane is in the hands of the wealthy sporting motorist.