The New Record Flights. I AST month was notable for two record longdistance flights made by two British pilots, J namely, Kidston’s journey to the Cape in 61
days and Scott’s rush trip to Australia.
No one who has had any experience or knowledge of flying for long periods at a stretch, over strange territory and under varying weather conditions can fail to have some admiration for these hardy souls for their stamina, skill and pluck in undertaking such flights, but at the same time these lengthy aerial journeys at high speed are now becoming so common that one is bound to question their use from a technical standpoint. The England-Australia trip has now been made often enough to prove that a light ‘plane can do it, but after that the value in providing data for future air transport development ceases, and such flights become stunt efforts pure and simple.
The same may be said of the air route to the Cape, and it is not unnatural that the prominence given in the daily Press to the fact that Lieut.-Commander Kidston’s object in doing his flight was to show up the “awful slowness” of British air mail services has resulted in a certain amount of criticism, and resentment. In the first place, one cannot compare his Lockheed ” Vega ” with the Imperial Airways multi-engined craft, and there can be no question as to which is the better type for reliable and regular service—the first essentials of a mail organisation. Secondly just as one swallow doesn’t make a summer, so one remarkably fine flight on a fast single-engined machine under good conditions, doesn’t indicate that the same sort of journey could be made mularly all the year round with a freightcarrying aeroplane at approximately the same speed. Scott, one gathers, set out to break the record to Australia solely for the sport of the thing, and one cannot help feeling that the same urge was the main object at the back of Commander Kidston’s effort
The bringing about of an increase in public interest in aviation and the spreading of ” airmindedness ” is a job which has claimed the attention of a lot of people in the last few years. But while we have a number of “synthetic pilots,” lookers-on and hangers-on, the number of people who are anxious and keen to fly is really very small. So the, people who are trying to make us a nation of airmen have got an up-bill fight, I shouldn’t be surprised if much of the antipathy of the ” man-in-the-street ” towards active aviation is due to the late War, for what with the nasty machines we were compelled to fly and the scrappy training we received in those days, the number of crashes per day throughout the country was simply appalling. And people remember those fatalities and shake their heads and talk about “keeping on the ground.” Once this prejudice, which after all is not difficult
to understand, is broken down, flying will undoubtedly become far more popular ; and the way to break it down is to bring people into really close contact with flying. That is why I think C. D. Barnard’s tour, which is now in progress, is a sound scheme. He is, of course, carrying on the work started in 1929 by Sir Alan Cobham, and like him, C.D.B. will meet Mayors and other municipal personages and urge the immediate necessity of reserving sites for future aerodromes in their districts.
Barnard has also formed a flying scholarship fund, and in most of the districts visited, a boy will be selected from the secondary schools and taught to fly at the nearest flying club without charge up to 15 hours’ instruction. In this way, valuable assistance will be given to the private flying movement and at least one hundred boys who would not otherwise have the chance of learning to fly will be able to take up aviation.
Not less than 150 of the more important towns will have been visited by the time this tour is completed and at each of these towns a well-organised air pageant will be held which will provide an attractive and instructive picture of the progress made in aviation and will, in addition, offer everyone who wishes to try the experience of flying the opportunity of doing so.
Massed Flying Tours.
The Heston people made an innovation last year when they organised a tour extending over a wide itinerary of the Continent and lasting several days. Recently the arrangement was repeated and a group of private owners visited Cannes, Nice, Tours, Chartres and other resorts in the South of France. This idea of organised flying parties strikes one as being extremely attractive, especially for those private owners who are new to fairly long trips over foreign land but wish to attempt such jaunts, as since they have a leader of experience, they can do so without risk of losing themselves provided they do not drop out of the “formation.”
I notice that members of Heston Air Park are now able to hire that concern’s machines at the rate of £3 per hour, subject to their making a deposit of £25, which is, of course, returnable.
Pushers Popular Again ?
Near the end of the late War the old pusher type of machine was beginning to be regarded as being completely out-of-date, and in the last decade they have been looked upon as barbarous relics of the past. But now there seems to be signs of its revival ; after all, for ” pleasure ” machines the engine behind arrangement has much in its favour as many old F.E. and Maurice Farman exponents will agree. Engine noise which reaches the occupants of a pusher is far less pronounced than with a tractor, and the young hurricane from the slipstream, to say nothing of stray oil spots and smell, are pleasantly absent.