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The BAC Drone

Sir,

The BAC Drone of recent mention is an interesting machine worthy of more comment. Most notable was the way the aircraft lived up to their name so well, for such was the closeness of the propeller tips to the structure that an incredibly raucous noise was produced: though possibly, at speed in a T-type MG (and under the hood, in December?) you are in no position to appreciate this characteristic. . . .

Robert Kronfeld sought to reduce this problem on later Drones by moving the propeller slightly aft and giving the wings slight sweepback. At the same time, recognising the need for more urge, the 30 h.p. Carden-Ford (a conversion of the contemporary Ford 10 engine) was fitted and the result was the Drone de Luxe. Total number of Drones produced was 33 including two of Indian registration and a “ground trainer” which despite its title was allegedly capable of flight, while there were also two non-flying “penguins” which really were earthbound. It would be interesting to learn if any readers remember seeing these craft in action! It was an easing of restrictions in 1934 which allowed solo flying training, leading to a limited A-licence as outlined in Air; and quick to take advantage was Mrs. S. M. Green, a director of British Aircraft Ltd. who taught herself to fly in an early Lowe Wylde in easy stages from taxiing, through short hops to turns and eventual circuits.

While it is true that G-ADUA was the machine used by Col. The Master of Sempill (not Semphill) [yes! —Ed.] for his remarkable flight to Berlin, the honour of commemorating this feat belonged to the similar G-ADPJ which was the aircraft exhibited in Selfridges, and is one of the few Drones to survive today. Another, currently airworthy after recent restoration is Mike Russell’s G-AEDB, a rather superior Drone with Bristol Cherub power, which during a display at Duxford last May demonstrated not only its unforgettable noise but excellent handling in a very stiff breeze, although helpers at the wingtips were needed at take-off. An aircraft with the undeniable flavour of the ‘thirties.

Geoff Clarke
London, SW17

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