Sir Alan Cobham’s Big Campaign in Full Swing.

UNDER the leadership of Sir Alan Cobham, what is undoubtedly the biggest effort so far made in this country to popularise flying was launched last month, when his “National Aviation Day” was opened with an initial meeting at Luton.

Sir Alan’s idea in organising this tour goes far beyond merely providing an aerial circus to amuse the general public, and his principal object is to arouse a much wider enthusiasm for aviation than at present exists in this country. To use his own words—” There are still millions of people in Britain who have never seen an . aeroplane at close quarters, and have never been in the air.” And as far as he is able, he intends to familiarise these people with aviation, because he believes that as things are at the present time the development of flying in all its branches can progress only slowly.

The National Aviation Day has entailed an enormous amount of organisation. Each day sees the entire fleet of some dozen aircraft with attendant transport operating at a different town or centre, and a programme embracing over twenty events is given twice a day. Included in this programme are demonstrations of various types of aircraft, aerobatics, pylon racing, parachute descents, wireless inter

communication between aeroplanes and the ground, and flights with towed sailplanes.

In addition to these, passenger flights are given continuously. Apart from the display, Cobham is giving much publicity to a Mandate, and is collecting signatures from the public for it to indicate their desire for a more energetic development of flying. The Mandate has been compiled by eleven leading aeronautical organisations, each of which, has contributed a clause dealing with an urgent necessity lying within its own particular province. Most welcome amongst these is that of the Royal Aero Club, which reads as follows : That air racing and record breaking achievements should be given greater encouragement by the Goveriunent and the fact recognised that there is no sounder investment for the British nation than to build aircraft for record breaking and air racing : because

(a)Th.e scientific knowledge gained from such achievements has done more to improve British aircraft than possibly any other single activity. The record speed of to-day is the commercial speed of to-ruorrow.

(b) The sporting nature of flying has alwaTs been the backbone of British interest in the air, and continued endeavour in this direction is necessary to the life of British aviation. Another clause which is of particnlar interest is that put forward by the British Gliding Association, which states :—

That the Government make a grant of an adequate sum of money spread over a number of years, (a) for the establishment and maintenance of Central Scientific and Training Stations to enable the Youth of Britain, and scientifically and technically minded people, to develop and carry out research work through motorless flying for the benefit of British aviation ; (b) a grant be made for the establishment of a central fund available for the purpose of assisting clubs, to establish flying grounds, erect hangars, buy machines and equipment. That the British Gliding Association be entrusted with the establishment, maintenance, direction and control of such stations and the administration of the grants to clubs.

All the projects which Sir Alan Cobham has carried through in the past have been of a genuinely high value to aviation, and whereas a good number of flying achievements of recent years have served only as a means of fleeting publicity to their sponsors and participants, Cobham’s long-distance flights across Continents definitely ” blaized the trail” for future air line routes, and were thus of real importance. That he should now be devoting so much time and work to this National Aviation Day campaign compels one to regard the effort as something of more than ordinary interest and significance.

His fleet of aircraft will continue to operate until October, and at the conclusion it will have visited 170 centres from Land’s End to John O’Groats and from East to West of the country.