Up The Lane.
Anyone visiting Stag Lane aerodrome at almost any time cannot fail to be impressed by the extraordinary
atmosphere of activity which prevails there. Above, there is a constant stream of incoming and outgoing aircraft—the Club’s yellow “Moths,” the red 9. J’s. and “” Moths” of the De Havilland school, and a mixed assembly of privately-owned machines. And the D.H. factory itself is a veritable hive industry from whence emerge (so I am told) fifteen ” Moths ” every week. Where do they all go to ?—Well, up to date there are 153 private-owners of machines in this country and 115 of these are “Mothers.” Their numbers are growing steadily every month, and besides this, the D.H.60 (” Moth “) is in world-wide demand so that a goodly proportion of each week’s output is shipped abroad.
To those interested in civil aviation generally and private flying in particular it is refreshing to ponder on the progress made at Stag Lane during the past ten years. I can remember calling in there just after the War when the premises of the now famous Edgware firm consisted of about one wooden workshop and two Bessenau hangars. The only machine I saw on that occasion was an ex. R.A.F. ” 9 ” standing in pathetic solitude, in the centre of the ‘drome. Times have changed.
The Tiger Moth.
As the little “Tiger Moth” has not been active for a considerable time, I inquired recently as to its health and gathered the lamentable news that it is to be written off. It seems that her manufacturers have no further use for her services and, as she carries no Airworthiness Certificate, she is not for disposal. At one time, I believe, Captain Hope intended to purchase her, but, of course without a C. of A. she would be of little use.
It is perplexing to ordinary people to find that a reputable a firm as De Havilland’s should be refused a certificate by the autocrats at Kingsway and Itarnboro’, and much as one may appreciate the fact that without the A.I.D. commercial aviation in England might not have so good a name for immunity from accidents due to structural failures, there are times when the strictness of the Air Ministry is not very far removed from grandmotherly interference.
I cannot see, for instance, why a private owner should run the risk of forfeiting the C. of A. of his machine by rying out overhauls and repairs himself, if he does not possess a Ground Engineer’s licence. Neither can I see why a private person should be subjected to so much red tape should he attempt the courageous and intriguing task of building his own craft. But there it is.
The £.17 Plane.
Mention of privately-constructed aeroplanes reminds me that I made a pilgrimage recently to Abingdon to view the remarkable effort of Mr. Buckle, who gained some fame in. the daily Press some time ago with his monoplane constructed of scrap at a cost of 217. Unfortunately I was unable to see the machine, owing to the absence of the owner and due to the fact that its resting place in a field some three miles out cf Abingdon was kept a close secret. I gathered quite an interesting amount of information, however, from an acquaintance of Mr. Buckle regarding it. The fuselage, empennage and undercarriage are home made ; the wings (believed to be off a “Snipe “) were purchased bare and covered and doped by Mr. Buckle ; the engine is a 40-45 h.p. 6-cylinder Anzani. What the horse power loading and wing loading are I was unable to ascertain, but according to reports it has quite a respectable performance. On its first flight, I was told, it took off after a very short run, climbed to 1,500 feet in good style and handled as all good aeroplanes should. I wished I could have seen it. A home-made ‘plane is something of a novelty nowadays, though in the early days it was the usual thing fox a man to design and build his own machine arid then teach himself to fly in it 1
Germany and Gliders.
A friend of mine, recently returned from Germany, is enthusiastic about the glider movement which is now in such a vigorous state in that country, and is surprised that nothing of the revived art of motorless flight is seen or heard of in England. The fact is, of course, that the light aeroplane long ago totally eclipsed the glider as a sporting aerial vehicle for obvious reasons. You have to have the right wind, the right locality and the right machine before you can achieve anything more than a glorified tobaggan-slide with a glider and you cannot go from A to B whenever you want to. Nevertheless, I share the views of my friend that gliding, or sailplaning as it is called in some quarters, has certain advantages of its own. The machines themselves are low in first cost and their upkeep is negligible. Therefore its cheapness is a big feature. Again, one is not called upon to register a glider, nor is it necessary to obtain a C. of A. for it as it is a not a powered aircraft, and any immunity from legislation is alWays attractive. As for sail-planing itself, I. am told by one who has indulged in it to some little extent that it is excellent sport. I can quite believe it and I should imagine that jockeying a plane sans moetur over undulating country in an attempt to reach some predetermined destination must be quite invigorating. The Germans, of couse, are pre-eminent in sail-planing and. have established and hold a number of records. One pilot, for example, has flown a distance of no less than forty-four miles, another remained ” upstairs ” for 14 hours, 7 minutes, and a third rose to 2,500 feet above his starting point. All of which, it must be agreed, is quite remarkable.