PRIVATE FLYING IN 1955
FROM the participants’ viewpoint, racing last year was highly competitive, for interest increased at each successive meeting. The idea of each race being a qualifying heat for its own trophy, the Championship and King’s Cup eligibility, resulted in the same bunch of pilots appearing on each occasion and therefore producing some noteworthy finishes.
The climax of all this, of course, cause with the final gathering held at Coventry on August 20th, when the last rounds were flown and everyone made an all-out effort to succeed in order to compete for the King’s Cup, flown later on the same day. The sixteen pilots at the head of the list of results of all the classes added together lined up for this, the first occasion on which they had all joined forces in one mixed heap.
Naturally, this brought, side-by-side, machines at the extreme ends of the performance scale and everyone *watched with intensity how the handicappers would cope with the gaps in speed between the Tiger Moths and the Mew Gull. Not that this formed any precedent, for a Gipsy I-Moth and a Spitfire have raced against each other, but it certainly formed an exercise in comparison, for results could be forecast to the finest of limits between any two machines from the same class, but no one (except, apparently, those whose job it was to know !) knew what might happen with the top men of all six groups rolled into one race. However, there was no cause for worry, but only for surprise, for after sixty-four miles of full-throttle grinding and split-second
cornering, Peter Clifford in the Mew roared past the post on the straight at about 230 m.p.h. to overtake Peter Vanneek’s 106-m.p.h. Tiger about five yards short of the line ! The rest of the field followed in the most tightly-packed cloud of airborne machinery yet seen in post-war racing, with Proctors, Geminis, Austers, more
Tigers, Marler’s Falcon, Paine’s Hawk Speed-Six. Johnson’s glasshouse-covered Hawk and several others almost distorting the contours of the local countryside as they made their final bid for the success’ of the season. * *
Although the King’s Cup Race by intent and tradition is essentially a British affair, the Aerobatic Competition held at Coventry over the same ambitiously-planned weekend was far from monopolised by our fellow-countrymen. On the Continent one had little aeroplanes whose structures, controls and carburetters seem almost happier inverted than in normal right-way-up flight, whilst at the same time they Manage to produce Has to snatch. We do neither, and our Tiger Moth, Magister, and elderly Blackburn B2, whose Gipsy Majors abandoned the course of duty at the slightest hint of load reversal. looked sadly inadequate against the French Stampe contentedly rolling off the bottom of bun Ls.
Only one British pilot, not surprisingly Ilanald Porteo :s, succeeded in gaining a place, and fourth at that. We all know and like his repertoire of ” Aigletics.” but Isis mount is basically an aerobaticallycleared touring aeroplane and therefore bound by the limitations that we have conic to expect of current austerity. We had hoped that one or two Chipmunks might have crept onto the market and into the aerobatic scene. but apparently Air Ministry has decided that our money is better spent in keeping each and every one of their several hundred such machines in locked storage and well away from the hands of those of us prepared to put them to practical Purpose.
Even the Service itself has lost the spirit of Competition and its appreciation of the importance of pure flying, for all R.A.F. pilots were banned from participation. Although in 1955 one cannot expect formations of inverted Aero Tutors, we feel sure that at C.F.S. and many other units there are plenty of good men who, suitably equipped and allowed to forget Green Cards and re-categorisation for a few weeks, could do justice to the British flag and a rapidly-declining Royal Air Force; $4 Squadron can do it with Hunters, so why not Training Command with lighter fry ? * * *
Whilst on the subject of the more pure aspect of flying and refusing to admit that the game must become a science rather than an art or craft, we must all agree that the appreciation of leaping into the air for its own sake (something that was an inherent though possibly unintentional feature of former R.A.F. pilot-training) is dying very rapidly, and that the flying clubs are becoming the only surviving medium for maintaining the more qualitative understanding of practical aviation.
Many thousands.of us trained in the service on the Tiger Moth and Harvard or similar sequences and then passed on to more advanced piston-powered types, but today even the first part of the Provost and Vampire arrangement is losing ground slowly and future pupils will be confronted with a turbine-trainer for their very first taste of the air. We will not argue at this stage whether or not the policy is a wise one, for we must accept that a military pilot’s purpose is purely functional and that so long as he can lift his Hunter off the ground, perform a specific task with it and put its wheels on the runway again, he is fulfilling all that is asked of him. Perhaps he would wipe the undercarriage from its rightful position •in attempting to land a light type such as a Magister in a cross wind, but that is merely an example of how the unhappy gap is widening between the pleasure of flying an aeroplane and the duty of operating it.
That is why, perhaps, so many Service pilots visit flying clubs these days and have the odd hour or so enlightening themselves with the antics of small aircraft, and it is certainly the reason for the majority of them requiring about four hours dual before being safe to be let loose with an Auster ! Strange though this may seem, it is quite true and it is a pleasant surprise if a man-from-a-Meteor actually reverts to the application of the most basic of principles by realising that all aircraft are the same and that he can actually fly anything placed round him. It is the mental fog of unfamiliarity that deters most people from success, coupled with a strange idea that it is necessary to learn to fly all over again when confronted with a cockpit whose dials and levers are not quite where one is accustomed to finding them.
Only the opportunity to leap from one type to another and then yet to another will normally convince a pilot that all aircraft are basically the same, varying not in principle but only in degree, whereas a spot of preconc Aved thought that what produces a certain result in one aeroplane will do the same in any other could cause the substitution of many air hour’s dual conversion flying by little more than a couple of check circuits.
Service and climb pilots, please note. It can save many pounds. * * *
While private-ownership declines steadily, at least it is more than compensated by the annual increase in activity and hours being flown by the clubs and schools. More people are learning to fly now than at any time over the past five years, and there are signs that this welcome improvement in the health of small-aeroplane-flying will continue.
Only the clubs can keep alive the art of pure flying and in these days when crash gear-boxed, narrow-gauge railways and all the better things of this world are becoming fewer and farther between, it will be a shame if three-point landings, top needles that need to be kept in the middle and rolls that require rudder should be lost in the same manner. The clubs hold full responsibility for the preservation of this art, for soon even C.F.S., for many years respected as the home of flying as it should be done, will be plonking the nose-wheels of Jet Provosts onto Little Rissington’s runways and before very long even the word ” swing ” will find no place in the Instructors’ Handbook of Flying Training. *
Thinking of the shrink in the number of users of private aeroplanes in this country makes one realise how small is the power, and therefore presumably the pocket, of British ownership. Some months ago I enjoyed the pleasure of test-flying an ex-R.A.F. Mosquito 35 destined for a private operator in Spain, whilst in the United States Hornets, Spitfires, Mustangs and a number of larger high-powered ex-military monsters find their way about the countryside in sheep’s clothing.
True that a few years ago two private Spitfire 5ba, G-AISU of the then Group Captain (now Air Commodore) A. If. Wheeler and GAHZI of M. L. Bramson of Elstree, made welcome changes in our aeronautical scenery, but the first of these has now resorted to its manufacturers’ museum to take the air two or three times a year on demonstration flights, whilst the other, finished in high-gloss black and cream with a colourful and luxurious lifesize line in feminine form painted on the fuselage sides, came to untimely grief whilst taking off from a Continental aerodrome. Forgetting Dunkerley’s Sparrowjet which would have been better loft in its original form as the only remaining Sparrowhawk, we have nothing more speedworthy than the Mew Gull in which on
Peter Clifford won the 1955 King’s Cup Race at an average of 213.5 tn.p.h., although we have one small light ray of hope in the SomersKendall SK-1, a diminutive two-seat jet trainer/racer for which we like to think that there is a prosperous future. While personal taste prefers a fan to a red-hot stove-pipe, there is a definite requirement for a small jet aeroplane and Own the economics of the construction and operation can be brought to acceptable levels, there should be a popular demand for the smooth ride that only the turbine engine can provide.
We must all watch the SKI with interest and I hope that early this year, when flight trials have progressed to the stage of serious handling/performance assessment, it will be. possible to make further continent on what is the first jet aeroplane designed in this country for the private market.
In the meantime. I would like to suggest that you join your local flying club, for even if you do not intend to take the air yourself, there is a close relationship between the sports of motoring and flying and the more mutual contact made between the devotees of these two excellent pastimes the better for everyone. [Certainly Mike Hawthorn points the way, flying his own Fairchild Argus, which is based at Fairoaks.—Eub—DavIn F. OGILVY.
JAGUAR OWNERS’ CLUB
IL G. l” ayford, of 18, Friara Street, Sudbury, Suffolk, is anxious to contact an) Jaguar owners who may be interested in the formation of a club.
FRAZER-NASH SECTION OF THE V.S.C.C.
The A.G.M. aml dinner were held by the ” Chain-gang ” at the Swan Hotel, Tewke, bury, on December 3rd and 4th. The racing prizes and trophies were this year won by Messrs. Nunn, Brown and Skirrow, whilst Doe. ilerris again won the Rallies Trophy. A new trophy, donated by Cecit Chaim, of the V.S.C.C., was awarded for the best-kept ‘Nash which is in fi,Aive use (active use for the ” Chaingang ” means races, hill-climbs, etc.), and was won by Alistair Pugh, who also won the ” Awful Warning Trophy” for rising above a number of adversities in the previous year.
The guest of honour for this year was D. S. Jenkinson, once a T.T. Replica owner, whose speech was tremendously well received, it being very complimentary to the members and to their choice of motor car.
On November 28th the British Racing and Sports Curs Club held a film show at the Empire Society Hall, London. The three latest Castro’ films were shown: ” Grand Prix Trio ” (Ferrari, Maserati and Mercedes-Benz teams at Monaco. Zandvoort and Aintree); ” Flying Ice ” (which shows motor racing on ice in Sweden—an interesting aspect to British spectators); and ” Rendezvous at the Ring ” (which follows the German Motor-cycle Grand Prix of 1955 at the Nurburgring). Other ” shorts” and cartoons, in conjunction with the well-received Esso film of Brands Hatch. made up the programme.
The West Hants & Dorset Car Club held their annual dinner and dance at the Grand Hotel, Bournemouth, on November 25th. This well-organised event was attended by Mike Hawthorn, Roy Salvador; and other well-known personalities. ‘fhe President’s Trophy was presented by Major-General A. If. Loughborough, C.13., O.R.E.
On December 9th the Herts County Aero & Automobile Club held their annual dimier-dance at the Red Lion Hotel, Hatfield. The Chairman, Armand Blaekley, J.P. (one of the founder members of this club), described some of the early days in the club’s history and presented a fine cup to be competed for in the Westbrook Hay event, which has received National status for this year’s meeting.
The second annual dinner-dance of the Snetterton Motor Racing Club was held at the Lido Ballroom. Norwich, on November 23rd. In his speech the President, the Earl of Kimberley, congratulated Jim Russell, a resident of Norfolk, on his racing career. The Vanwall Trophy WAS on view, having been won by Peter Walker at the August Snetterton meeting.
” SPECIALS ” IN HONG KONG
We learn that two .interesting ” specials,” the Fencer and the Helvia. took part in last year’s Macan Grand Prix. The Fencer has a tubular frame and Citroen front-ends at front and back, with the drive deleted at the front and the steering deleted at the rear, to make an all-independently-sprung rear-drive car. It was built by Far East Motors and uses a Standard Vanguard engine with TR2 modifications. The Helvia is virtually a 1947 Sunbeam-Talbot with improved breathing. It is the property of Paul Dutoit, son of the Dutoit who was once Segrave’s riding mechanic and a tyretester at Brooklands, who himself acquired a Mercedes-Benz 190SL for the race.
WATER INJECTION BOMB
In response to the requests of many readers regarding the merits of petrol eeonomisers, a test was carried out on the water injection bomb manufactured by Messrs. Stanley Lipscombe, of Boveney, Windsor. at, a cost of £5 105. The car used for test was a 1951 Ford Pilot with 59,000 miles to its credit, the increase in economy being approximately 10 per cent, on the initial trial run without any experimental alterations to the amount of water being added. The increase in performance was not at first noticed, but after some weeks the engine seemed to run more smoothly and pick up faster. Larger increases in economy are claimed by the manufacturers when cite bombs are used on new engines, and interesting effects on carbon dispersion have been noted. –
-GEAR-LEVER EXTENSION FOR STANDARDS
A very well finished extension lever for fitting in place of the normal gear-lever knob in Standard Eights and Tens is now being marketed by Weston Electric Units, Ltd.. Station Road, Foulridge, Colue, LancS, It consists of a short chromium-plated steel extension with a bakelite knob replacing the rubber original, which has a tendency to become sticky in hot weather. Price 7s. fid.
At Harringay arena on December 6th some of the Monte Carlo Rally entrants had some practice by driving on the ice. Six ears were entered, competing in pairs to negotiate wooden pylons. First pair was T. C. Harrison (Ford Zephyr) and Sergeant Sbillabeer of the Metropolitan Police (Humber Super Snipe), the heavy Humber, with large tyres and rear-seat passengers bouncing, had better grip than the lighter Zephyr. K. Richardson (Vanguard 111) and S. H. Allard (Allard) were next: the former handling the Vanguard in a very quiet mariner and thereby gaining an advantage over the
which displayed its immense power in the form of spinning wheels. Finally, Miss Pat Moss and T. 11. Wisdom had a duel, Pat driving an M.G. Magnette and Tummy a Standard Ten. Neither party here gained much of an advantage until the final third round, in which the Magnette was first home owing to the happy and carefree gyrations of the Standard half-way up the course. The Daily Herald nip went to Pat Moss.