IT is apparent from the results so far obtained by gliding clubs in connection with the instruction of members, that elementary training is not altogether the simple business which many formerly imagined., Encouraging reports from. Germany have given the impression that one has only to put a pupil on a” Zogling ” and launch him gently off a mild gradient for him to progress steadily in proficiency until he becomes skilful enough to manipulate the soaring machine. That this is not the case has already been discovered, and one of the principal troubles which clubs are experiencing is that breakages to their machines of a more or less serious nature occur pretty frequently and, as they have only a limited number of gliders, the operations of the clubs have often to be suspended for some time. The German schools are no more fortunate in the way of crashes, but where they score is that they have more machines and have workshops on the spot, so that repairs can be carried out quickly. Another point which must be born in mind is that whereas we in England have, so far, made gliding a week-end affair, in Germany, pupils undergo a regular course of training and literally live at the school for many weeks. If therefore, gliding training in this country proves to be slow in the future, those who are interested in the pastime must realise that they are working under conditions not comparable with those in Germany.
It has often been said that people in this country, when compared with other nations, are not at all airminded, and that the average man-in-the-street is indifferent in the matter of aerial travel. However true this may have been in the past, it is certainly not the case nowadays, and one requires no better evidence of the keenness of people’s interest in flying than the enormous crowds which collect at any flying function, such as the N.F.S.-organised pageants, which have recently taken place. Particularly noticeable was this public interest at the Reading meeting. Woodley aerodrome, where it was held, is far from being accessible by road, but in spite of this fact and that the weather conditions were distinctly unpleasant, so large was the crowd that the organisers were at one time seriously
embarrassed in marshalling spectators into their respective enclosures. It is noticeable nowadays too, that visitors to aerodromes are no longer mere sightseers, but people who, if they do not already fly, are most anxious to undergo their aerial baptism, and people who are by no means ignorant in the more general aspects of aviation.
Several plans are now on foot for trans-Atlantic flight attempts during the next few weeks. The distinguished French pilot, Costes is stated to be making preparations for a Paris-New York trip, and according to a report he may start any time after the 15th of this month. The Italians are also organising a big Italy-America flight in which twelve seaplanes will take part, flown by specially-picked pilots from the Italian Air Force.
As time goes by the list of privately owned aircraft steadily grows. To date, the number of owners of registered craft stands at 191, and the number of machines 206. The latter figure includes no less than 142 D.H.’s, comprising 137 “Moths,” 3 53’s ” (the little lowwing single-seater monoplane), an old ” 6 ” and a 50a. There are also 21 Avros of different types, 3 Blackburn “Bluebirds,” 7 Westland machines, 2 Simmonds Spartans, and a sprinking of veterans. In the latter category come 6 S.E. 5’s, a Sopwith ” Dove ” (80 h.p. Le Rhone), the Sopwith ” Grasshopper ” (100 h.p. Anzani), which was at one time owned by Mr. Dudley Watt, and a Martinsyde F3 (190 h.p. Rolls-Royce). The list also includes eleven planes of foreign manufacture comprising the following :-6 Kiemms, 2 Fokkers, 1 Ryan, 1 Breda and 1 Junkers F13.
In years gone by the possibility of man-propelled • flight has greatly intrigued theorists and experimenters. Before the war, a competition was held in France with
the idea of encouraging inventors in this connection, but although there were several entrants and a variety of designs, practical tests showed negligible results. More recently, at intermittent periods, tone learned of revived endeavours to produce man-powered machines but it appears that most attempts ended in failure. I recently had the opportunity of discussing the matter of man-propelled flight with a designer who some years ago actually carried out extensive experiments with a manually-operated ornithopter. His experiences were extremely interesting, especially as he met with some degree of success in that he left the ground for some distance on a machine which he designed after years of experimenting. Unfortunately circumstances forced him to give up this work, and his machine is now dismantled. I learned, however, that he intends to continue with it as soon as opportunity allows, and certainly the results which he states that he has so far achieved, should encourage him to do so.