The Autogiro. almost any sphere, anything which breaks away from common or garden practice is inevitably faced with an uphill fight against a powerful feel
ing of ,conservatism. This fear of the unorthodox is particularly noticeable in aviation, and it is not surprising, therefore, that Don Cierva, when he first introduced his Autogiro, found the world sceptical, cautious and critical of his amazing craft and the claims he made for it.
Nevertheless, as time went on and the practicability of his machine became no longer a matter of doubt, the aircraft industry was bound to sit up and take notice, and it is to our credit that we in this country were the first to recognise its possibilities. In 1926 I discussed the Autogiro with Frank Courtney, who at that time was carrying out tests and demonstration flights with the earlier type. This machine, it may be remembered, was built up mainly of a standard Avro 504 fuselage with a 130 h.p. Clerget engine. Courtney (who is now a naturalised American) is the most critical of all pilots, and I was therefore greatly impressed at his enthusiasm for the ” windmill ” ‘plane and the prophesy he made about its future. Much that he said has come to pass, and now both in Europe and America the Autogiro is looked upon no longer as a freak, but a ‘plane which in many ways is ideally suited for private flying. The Cierva Autogiro Co. ,have certainly left no stone unturned in “showing the flag,” and in addition to making a 3,000 miles demonstration tour of England and the Continent some years ago, the Autogiro has been giving daily demonstrations for many months at over fifty air ports in the U.S.A.
Brie, who has been doing a lot of flying with it in France tells me that it is gaining a lot of adherents over there. He himself, says that it is the most pleasant and restful machine he has ever flown ; curiously enough, the revolving rotors far from worrying or fidgetting the pilot and passenger, as some people imagine, perform their function without being noticeable in the least. And on flights over difficult country, the knowledge that engine failure will not entail one’s entry into a field (ploughed or otherwise) at 55, 45 or even 30 m.p.h. relieves the pilot of a great deal of conscious or sub-conscious mental strain.
I hear now that one of the latest developments in connection with the Autogiro is that the de Havilland Aircraft Co. are to collaborate with the Cierva Co., in the design of a new model. The experience gained by “in the design and operation of the Puss-Moth is, I understand, to be turned to good account in the new project, while an inverted Gipsy engine will also be used.
War Kites in South “Ken.”
Some people have the idea that museums are places to which one goes only when it is raining and when all popular places of amusement are closed. One brief visit to the Science Museum at South Kensington—and in particular, the aeronautical section—will definitely dispel that fallacy. Goodness knows how many times I have been there, or how many times I shall go again, for it is a place which possesses an almost irresistible attraction for me. Where else can aviation history be seen in so complete a material form under one roof ? There one can find the early Wright, complete in every detail, rubbing wing-tips with Alcock’s ” Vimy ” ; W. 0. Manning’s masterpiece, the little ” Wren ” ; engines galore, and models of more historic craft than I can remember.
Below in the basement, if one makes the necessary request, it is possible to see the last of several War machines ; these include a fully-rigged R.E.8, a Sopwith triplane, a deck-flying Camel, and a B.E.2.C. There these warriors stand, with their engines stilled for ever, and alongside them one will also find a Roland twoseater, and the remnants of a Fokker D.VII, splintered and torn, grim reminders of thirteen years ago.
Moth to the Rescue.
A good story, with a distinctly American appeal, comes from the West Indies. Friday was a gala day in Kingston, Jamaica, with the consequence that the firm of H. M. Kalphat, agents for ” Grouse ” whisky, found themselves cleared out of stock at night. And Saturday is Saturday everywhere. Kalphat had supplies at Black River, a seaport town a hundred miles west along the coast. There is no railway on this route and cars would take at least five hours each way. Kalphat had the enterprise to get into touch with Caribbean Airways Limited, who hold a Government contract to operate the first and only air mail service in the West Indies. To a frantic enquiry for rates for guaranteed delivery of five cases by 8.30 a.m. in the morning, the laconic reply was : “Ordinary rates—so much a mile.”
Early in the morning, Captain Holland, Caribbean Airways’ chief pilot, left Kingston in a Moth seaplane, breakfasted at Black River, and at 8.15 a.m. was back at Kingston delivering the whisky to Messrs. Kalphat’s van. So the town was saved. Caribbean Airways report that this Moth is flying daily, carrying mails and passengers, giving piloting instruction, doing advertising flights for various films, and never gives a moment’s trouble. As an indication of the faith placed in this Moth, the Chairman of the Company recently flew it over the mountains right across the island from south to north, attended to business fifty miles away, and was back in Kingston in time for 1 o’clock lunch—and the machine was fitted
with floats ! RUDDERBAR.