On September 4th I made my annual pilgrimage to the R.A.F., Farnborough, to see the S.B.A.C. Flying Display and Exhibition—not a very long pilgrimage, as I live only four miles away. There is no denying that the faster machines make motor-racing look like a rest-cure and I have the greatest admiration for the test-pilots who make the whole thing look easy. Dean Delamont, of the R.A.C. Competitions Committee, was a spectator and I suggested to him that perhaps he was debating the issue of medical certificates for the spectators at this particular show !
The H.P. Marathon Trainer going past with both airscrews on its port side feathered was the first shock, and then Bill Simpson held the Percival Prince to the deck preparatory to yanking it up in a swift climb, In contrast, the D.H. Heron unstuck early.
The Westland, Saunders-Roe and Bristol helicopters gave impeccable demonstrations; the Bristol 173 is surely the motor-bus of the future ?
The Alvis-engined Percival Provost went up to 3,000 ft. and spun five turns on the way down, the Scottish Aviation Pioneer 2 demonstrated slow take-off, slow flying and slow landing, and real aerobatics were indulged in by the Auster Aiglet Trainer–all praise to these pilots who had to compete against far faster stuff, yet put up splendid shows.
Beckford made the first fast run, in the Hawker Sea Hawk. The Gloster Meteor 7 did rolls while climbing and a long inverted run, and the enormously powerful A-S Sapphire Canberra left a smoke trail. Very impressive was the fly-past by the B.E.A. Vickers Viscount liner with three of its four Rotols feathered.
The Vickers 508, after spreading its wings, did a “1 in 4” climb, rolled off the top, then came by at deck-landing speed. The Meteor N.F. II climbed impressively and flew inverted, bringing vapour trails from its wing-tips. The Bristol Olympus Canberra went so high, almost vertically, as to find a non-apparent cloud base; its landing was the only slightly dicey moment of the afternoon. Cunningham displayed the fine climbing power of the Sprite-Comet, the Bristol Britannia turbo-prop. liner flew in quiet circles, and Hayworth did a sprint-start in the Re-Heat Avon Canberra, getting off in 19 sec. from dead engines, followed by a CLIMB. Coming back he shut-off, re-lit and went UP in a truly big way. The Fairey Gannet feathered one of its contra-props., the Vickers Swift put up a fine show of rolls and climbs, but, although the red Avro 707A and blue Avro 707B delta-wing research aircraft took-off to formate on the secret Avro 698 flying-wing bomber, they did not aerobat. But Falk treated us most generously to truly inspiring close-ups of the 698 to make up. The Vickers Valiant and D.H. Comet were impressive and the Gloster Javelin banked round immediately after take-off. But Neville Duke in the Hawker Hunter and John Derry in the D.H. 110 stole the show. Duke broke the sound-barrier in his dive, which began from 42,000 ft. and seven miles away on his first attempt and thereafter tore by at low level. Heavy cloud and rain obscured Derry’s attempt but later he, too, released the enthralling “double-bang,” causing my six-year-old daughter to inquire : “Will they go on breaking their sound-barriers when the show is over, daddy ? ” For our part, we felt that the unexpected arrival of a “flying-saucer” would have been only a mild anticlimax.
Farnborough 1952 was an impressive show and attracted a “Silverstone” crowd of spectators on the public-days. In the static exhibition Mintex, David Brown, Exide, Delaney Gallay, Dunlop, E.N.V., Esso, Firestone, W. T. Flather, Goodyear, High Duty Alloys, K.L.G., Lockheed, Lodge, Lucas, Marston, Pyrene, Rubery Owen, Shell-Mex & B.F., Silentbloc, Smiths, Tecalemit, Triplex, Vokes, Wellworthy and other firms well known in “our” world, displayed with justifiable pride their contributions to the present advanced state of aeronautical science.–W. B.
[Our sympathy goes out to those bereaved by the accident to the D.H.110 at Farnborough on September 6th.-Ed.]