Out of the Past.
W V HOE was responsible for the organization of the flying meeting held at Hanworth last month is to be heartily congratulated for shaping a programme which was different—and really interesting:
The occasion was the N.F.S. Parliamentary “garden party,” when members of the House of Commons and House of Lords visited the air park by invitation. So often these sort of affairs are tame—one sees the same machines, flown by the same pilots, performing the same evolutions time after time, and, frankly, one becomes bored. But this particular meeting WAS extremely entertaining, and for my part, what made it SO was the presence there of a replica of the old type XI Bleriot monoplane, which had been sent over from France by the great pioneer, M. Louis Bleriot. Moreover, this old-time machine was not merely ” on show” , it was flown. M. Quartremarre, took the gallant veteran up and circled the aerodrome, and though the day was far from ideal for so aged a craft to be aloft, she cruised around in fine style, with the old Anzani engine crackling healthily enough.
To modern eyes, to people who can only dimly remember the aircraft of even the late War-days, this 1910 monoplane must have appeared strange indeed. But, I think it will be agreed that for all her twenty-one years, the Bleriot is a graceful craft. Even her spidery ” under-cart ” and naked longerons do not detract from her good looks to any extent.
It was a bright idea, also, to invite as many old Bleriot pilots as were able to come. Alas ! there are not many left. But one was glad to see Sir Alliott Roe, M. Marcel Desoutter, Mr. Marcus Manton and Commander R. Marix there. What memories the sight and sound of the Bleriot must have stirred amongst these veterans.
Pre -War Stunting.
The first machine I saw looped was a Gnome-engined Bleriot, and the astonishment of the crowd in which I stood was extraordinary. The late Gustave Hamel, C. B. Hucks and M. D. Manton were the finest of preWar stunt pilots—and they all used Bleriots. When one examines this frail-looking little machine, and recalls how they were flung about, one’s respect for these men, for their courage and skill, can be only profound.
Incidentally, many people imagine that the stunt in which a ‘plane is dived over the vertical and flown on its back is an entirely modern evolution. Nothing of the sort. Both Hucks and Manton did this regularly in 1913-1914, and continued for quite considerable periods in inverted flight at no more than 300 feet from the ground.
Motor Firms and Aircraft.
During the War period all sorts of manufacturing concerns turned their resources to building aeroplanes. Shop-fitters, furniture makers and the like were all working feverishly in turning out warplanes. The motor trade, naturally, was particularly busy in this direction. But while this work with most firms in Coventry and elsewhere was entirely new to them, Humber Ltd. (who, if I remember rightly built R.E.S’s and Avros), were no novices at the game. For in 1910 they made Bleriots under licence. This is the story of how they started.
One day in 1910 a telegram was received at the Humber factory announcing that George Barnes, the pilot, had remained in the air at Brooklands for 15 minutes. Mr. Burford, general manager, showed this to Mr. Davey (who was then, as now, sales manager) and asked ” How much is that worth to you ? ” “About £2,000,” replied Mr. Davey, to which Mr. Burford responded, “Spend it then.” How many machines they built, I do not know, but a catalogue of aeroplanes was actually issued by the Htunber Co., and that was 21 years ago.
The King’s Cup Race.
At the time of writing, forty-one entries have been received, by the Royal Aero Club for the King’s Cup Race which is to take place on the 25th of this month. The course will total 982i miles, and the start will be from Heston Air Park. The route to be taken will include Leicester, Nottingham, Norwich, Brough, Leeds, Birmingham, Woodford (Lanes), Hooton, Shoreham, Hamble and Bristol.
The new rules governing the race, of course, ban all but amateur entrants and pilots, so this year the “trade ” element will be entirely lacking–and there will be no special machines at all, which robs the race of more than half of its interest. Looking through the list of machines so far entered I see that it comprises—with the exception of the Canadian-built Curtiss-Reid” Rambler,” an Arrow “Active,” a Martlet and a Civilian ” Coupe,”—” Moths,” Avians,” ” Spartans,” ” Bluebirds” and “Widgeons.”
It is interesting to find that a large percentage of the pilots are R.A.P. officers, these being graded by some queer twist of the R.Ae.C.’s rules as” amateurs.” There are also three women competitors—last year’s winner, Miss Winifred Brown, Miss Diana Guest and the Hon. Mrs. Victor Bruce.
It is obvious that there will be no very high speeds, but as the competing machines will be all fairly evenly matched, there should be at any rate an exciting finish to the King’s Cup Race, 1931.