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Title: Learning to Fly - A Practical Manual for Beginners
Author: Grahame-White, Claude, 1879-1959, Harper, Harry, 1880-
Language: English
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LEARNING TO FLY


  [Illustration: _Photo by Topical Press Agency._
  A SCHOOL MACHINE WELL ALOFT.]


  LEARNING TO FLY

  A PRACTICAL MANUAL FOR
  BEGINNERS

  BY

  CLAUDE GRAHAME-WHITE
  AND
  HARRY HARPER

  _FULLY ILLUSTRATED_

  NEW YORK
  THE MACMILLAN COMPANY


  PRINTED IN ENGLAND.



CONTENTS


       I. THEORIES OF TUITION                                  9

      II. TEMPERAMENT AND THE AIRMAN                          20

     III. FIRST EXPERIENCES WITH AN AEROPLANE                 24
          (AS DESCRIBED BY MR. GRAHAME-WHITE)

      IV. THE CONTROLLING OF LATEST-TYPE CRAFT                31

       V. THE STAGES OF TUITION                               38

      VI. THE TEST FLIGHTS                                    53

     VII. PERILS OF THE AIR                                   56

    VIII. FACTORS THAT MAKE FOR SAFETY                        76

      IX. A STUDY OF THE METHODS OF GREAT PILOTS              82

       X. CROSS-COUNTRY FLYING                                92

      XI. AVIATION AS A PROFESSION                            99

     XII. THE FUTURE OF FLIGHT                               104



ILLUSTRATIONS


    A SCHOOL MACHINE WELL ALOFT                   _Frontispiece_

                                                       FACE PAGE

    GRAHAME-WHITE SCHOOL BIPLANE                              34

    THE CONTROLS OF A SCHOOL BIPLANE                          36

    REAR VIEW OF A SCHOOL BIPLANE                             38

    POWER-PLANT OF A SCHOOL BIPLANE                           40

    MOTOR AND OTHER GEAR--ANOTHER VIEW                        42

    PUPIL AND INSTRUCTOR READY FOR A FLIGHT                   44

    PUPIL AND INSTRUCTOR IN FLIGHT (1)                        46

    PUPIL AND INSTRUCTOR IN FLIGHT (2)                        48

    PUPIL AND INSTRUCTOR IN FLIGHT (3)                        50



Authors' Note.--The photographs to illustrate this book, as set forth
above, were taken at the Grahame-White Flying School, the London
Aerodrome, Hendon, by operators of the Topical Press Agency, 10 and 11,
Red Lion Court, Fleet Street, London, E.C.



AUTHORS' NOTE


This book is written for the novice--and for the novice who is
completely a novice. We have assumed, in writing it, that it will come
into the hands of men who, having determined to enter this great and
growing industry of aviation, and having decided wisely to learn to
fly as their preliminary step, feel they would like to gain
beforehand--before, that is to say, they take the plunge of selecting
and joining a flying school--all that can be imparted non-technically,
and in such a brief manual as this, not only as to the stages of
tuition and the tests to be undergone, but also in regard to such
general questions as, having once turned their thoughts towards flying,
they take a sudden and a very active interest.

It has been our aim, bearing in mind this first and somewhat restless
interest, to cover a wide rather than a restricted field; and this
being so, and remembering also the limitations of space, we cannot
pretend--and do not for a moment wish it to be assumed that we
pretend--to cover exhaustively the various topics we discuss. Our
endeavour, in the pages at our disposal, has not been to satisfy
completely this first curiosity of the novice, but rather to stimulate
and strengthen it, and guide it, so to say, on lines which will lead
to a fuller and more detailed research.

It is from this point of view, as a short yet comprehensive
introduction, and particularly as an aid to the beginner in his choice
of a school, and in what may be called his mental preparation for the
stages of his tuition, that we desire our book to be regarded.

  C. G.-W.
  H. H.

  _April_, 1916.



CHAPTER I

THEORIES OF TUITION


Only eight years ago, in 1908, it was declared impossible for one man
to teach another to fly. Those few men who had risen from the ground
in aeroplanes, notably the Wright brothers, were held to be endowed by
nature in some very peculiar way; to be men who possessed some
remarkable and hitherto unexplained sense of equilibrium. That these
men would be able to take other men--ordinary members of the human
race--and teach them in their turn to navigate the air, was a
suggestion that was ridiculed. But Wilbur Wright, after a series of
brilliant flights, began actually to instruct his first pupils; doing
so with the same care and precision, and the same success, that had
characterised all his pioneer work. And these first men who were
taught to fly on strange machines--as apart from the pioneers who had
taught themselves to fly with craft of their own construction--made
progress which confounded the sceptics. They went in easy and
leisurely fashion from stage to stage, and learned to become aviators
without difficulty, and mainly without accident.

After this, increasing in numbers from two or three to a dozen, and
from a dozen to fifty and then a hundred, the army of airmen grew
until it could be totalled in thousands. Instead of being haphazard,
the teaching of men to fly became a business. Flying schools were
established; courses of tuition were arranged; certain pilots
specialised in the work of instruction. It was shown beyond doubt that,
instead of its being necessary for an aviator to be a species of
acrobat, any average man could learn to fly.

Certainly a man who intends to fly should be constitutionally sound;
this point is important. When in an aeroplane, one passes very quickly
through the air, and such rapid movement--and also the effect of
varying altitudes--entail a certain physical strain. A man with a weak
heart might find himself affected adversely by flying; while one whose
lungs were not sound might find that his breathing was impeded
seriously by a swift passage through the air. More than one fatality,
doubtful as to its exact cause, has been attributed to the collapse of
a pilot who was not organically sound, or who ascended when in poor
health. And here again is an important point. No man, even a normally
healthy man, should attempt to pilot a machine in flight when he is
feeling unwell. In such cases the strain of flying, and the effect of
the swift motion through the air, may cause a temporary collapse; and
in the air, when a man is alone in a machine, any slight attack of
faintness may be sufficient to bring about a fatality.

A fair judgment of speed, and an eye for distance, are very helpful to
the man who would learn to fly, and it is here that a man who has
motored a good deal, driving his own car, is at advantage at first
over one who has not. But otherwise, and writing generally, any man of
average quickness of movement, of average agility, can learn without
difficulty to control an aeroplane in flight. It is wrong to imagine
that exceptional men are required. An unusual facility, of course,
marks the expert pilot; but we are writing of men who would attain an
average skill.

There has been discussion as to the age at which a man should learn to
fly, or as to the introduction of age limits generally in the piloting
of aircraft. But this introduces a difficult question; one which
depends so entirely on the individual, and regarding which we need the
data that will be provided by further experience. Some men retain from
year to year, and to a remarkable extent, the faculties that are
necessary; others lose them rapidly. The late Mr. S. F. Cody was
flying constantly, and with a very conspicuous skill, at an age when
he might have been thought unfit. But then he was a man of a rare
vitality and a great enthusiasm--a man who, though he flew so often,
declared that each of his flights was an "adventure." Taking men in
the average one may say this: the younger a man is, when he learns to
fly, the better for him. Much depends, naturally, on the sort of
flying he intends to do after he has attained proficiency. If he is
going to fly in war, or under conditions that impose a heavy strain,
then he must be a young man. But if he intends to fly for his own
pleasure, and under favourable conditions, then this factor of age
loses much of its importance, and it is only necessary that a man
should retain say, an ordinary activity, and a normal quickness of
vision and of judgment.

Flying is not difficult. It is in a sense too easy, and this is just
where its hidden danger lies. If a pupil is carefully taught, and
flies at first only when the weather conditions are suitable, he will
find it surprisingly easy to pilot an aeroplane. That it is not
dangerous to learn to fly is proved daily. Though hundreds and
thousands of pupils have now passed through the schools, anything in
the nature of a serious accident is very rarely chronicled. This
immunity from accident is due largely to the care and experience of
instructors, and also to the fact that all pupils pass through a very
carefully graduated tuition, and that no hazardous flights are allowed;
while another and an important element of safety lies in the fact
that no flying is permitted at the schools unless weather conditions
are favourable. It is now a fair contention that, provided a man
exercises judgment, and ascends only in weather that is reasonably
suitable, there is no more danger in flying an aeroplane than in
driving a motor-car.

Much depends of course on the dexterity of the pupil, and particularly
on his manual dexterity--on what is known, colloquially, as "hands."
Some men, even after they have been carefully taught, are apt to
remain heavy and clumsy in their control. Others, though, seem to
acquire the right touch almost by instinct; and these are the men who
have in them the making of good pilots. Horsemen refer to "hands" when
they speak of a man who rides well; and in flying, if a man is to
handle a machine skilfully, there is need for that same instinctive
delicacy of touch.

Nowadays, when a pupil joins a well-established flying school, he
finds that everything is made easy and pleasant for him. Most men
enjoy very thoroughly the period of their tuition. A friendly regard
springs up between the pupils and their instructors, and men who have
learned to fly, and are now expert pilots, bear with them very
pleasant reminiscences of their "school" days. But there were times,
and it seems already in the dim and distant past, when learning to fly
was a strange, haphazard, and hardly pleasant experience; though it
had a sporting interest certainly, and offered such prospects of
adventure as commended it to bold spirits who were prepared for
hardship, and had a well-filled purse. The last requirement was very
necessary. In the bad old days, amusing days though they were without
doubt, no fixed charge was made to cover such breakages, or damage to
an aeroplane, as a pupil might be guilty of during his period of
instruction. These items of damage--broken propellers, planes, or
landing gear--were all entered up very carefully on special bills, and
presented from time to time to the dismayed novice; and a man who was
clumsy or impetuous found learning to fly an expensive affair. There
was a pupil who joined a school soon after Bleriot's crossing of the
Channel by air. It was a monoplane school; and the monoplane, unless a
man is careful and very patient, is not an easy machine to learn to
fly. This beginner was not patient; he was indeed more than usually
impetuous. His landings, in particular, were often abrupt. He broke
propellers, frequently, to say nothing of wings and of alighting gear.
And of all these breakages a note was made. Bills were handed to
him--long and intricate bills, with each item amounting to so many
hundreds of francs. Having a sense of humour, the pupil began to paper
his shed with these formidable bills, allowing them to hang in
festoons around the walls. What it cost him to learn to fly nobody
except himself knew. He paid away certainly, in his bills for
breakages, enough money to buy several aeroplanes.

This was in the early days, when aviators were few and all flying
schools experimental. To-day a pupil need not concern himself, even if
he does damage a machine. Before beginning his tuition he pays his fee,
one definite sum which covers all contingencies that may arise. It
includes any and all damage that he may do to the aircraft of his
instructors; it covers also any third-party claims that may be made
against him--claims that is to say from any third person who might be
injured in an accident for which he was responsible. This inclusive
fee varies, in schools of repute, from £75 to £100.

The modern aerodromes, or schools of flight, at which a pupil receives
his tuition, have been evolved rapidly from the humblest of
beginnings. The first flying grounds were, as a rule, nothing more
than open tracts of land, such as offered a fairly smooth
landing-place and an absence of dangerous wind-gusts. Then, as
aviation developed, pilots came together at these grounds, and sheds
were built to house their craft. And after this, quickly as a rule, an
organisation was built up. Beginning from rough shelters, erected
hastily on the brink of a stretch of open land, there grew row upon
row of neatly-built sheds, with workshops near them in which aircraft
could be constructed or repaired. And from this stage, not content
with the provision made for them by nature, those in control of the
aerodromes began to dig up trees, fill in ditches and hollows, and
smooth away rough contours of the land, so as to obtain a huge, smooth
expanse on which aircraft might alight and manoeuvre without accident.
And after this came the building up of fences and entrance gates, the
erection of executive offices and restaurants, the provision of
telephone exchanges and other facilities--the creation in fact of a
modern aerodrome.

A pupil to-day, if he decides to learn to fly, finds he has an ample
choice in the matter of a school. He may feel indeed that there is
almost an embarrassment of facilities. But there are certain very
definite requirements, in regard to any modern flying school; and if a
novice bears these in mind, and thinks of them carefully when he is
considering what school he shall join, he cannot go far wrong. First
there is the question of the aerodrome on which, and above which, the
pupil will undergo his instruction. This should be of ample size and
of an adequately smooth surface; and it should be so situated, also,
that it is free from wind eddies and gusts, such as are set up by
hills, woods, or contours of the land, and are likely to inconvenience
a novice when he makes his first flights. The best position for an
aerodrome is in a valley, not abrupt but gently sloping. With a flying
ground so placed, shielded well by nature on every hand, it may prove
sufficiently calm for instruction even on days when there is a gusty
wind blowing across more exposed points; and such a natural advantage
is of importance for a pupil. It may mean that he is obtaining his
tuition from day to day, when other pupils, learning to fly at grounds
less favourably situated, have to remain compulsorily idle, waiting
either for the wind to drop, or to veer to some quarter from which
their aerodrome is sheltered.

It is very necessary, of course, in the operation of a flying school,
that there should be competent instructors; also a sufficient number
of these to prevent them from being over-taxed, or having more pupils
at any one time than they can handle conveniently. And it is greatly
to the advantage of a pupil if these instructors have been chosen with
an intelligent care. A man may be a capable pilot, and yet not have
the temperament that will suit him for imparting his knowledge to
others. The instructor who, besides being a fine flyer, has the
patience and sympathy of a born teacher, is by no means easy to find.
A school which does find such men, and retains their services, offers
attractions for a pupil which--in any preliminary visit he pays to a
school before joining it--he should look for keenly. And he should
make certain, too, that the school has a staff of skilled and
experienced mechanics.

Another indispensable feature of a school is a sufficient number of
aeroplanes, machines suited specially for the purposes of tuition, and
maintained at a high efficiency. It has been no uncommon thing--though
here again one is writing of the past--for the total resources of a
school to comprise, say, two machines. Hence a couple of smashes would
put such a school temporarily out of action, and leave the pupils with
nothing to do but kick their heels, and wait until the machines had
been repaired. It is certainly an advantage, from the pupil's point of
view, if there are well-equipped workshops in connection with the
school he joins; also if the proprietors of his school have an ample
supply of engines. With facilities for repair work immediately at hand,
and with a spare engine ready at once to put in a machine--while one
that has been giving trouble is dealt with in the engine-shop--there
should always be a full complement of craft for the work of
instruction. When workshops are in operation in connection with a
school an opportunity is usually provided, also, for a novice to gain
some knowledge as to the mechanism and working of the aero-motor: and
this of course will be useful to him.

There has been discussion as to the type of aeroplane on which one
should learn to fly; but in this question, as in that of an age limit
for airmen, it is extremely difficult, besides being unwise, to
attempt to frame a hard-and-fast rule. The monoplane, for instance, is
not an easy machine to learn to fly: it is not easy, that is to say,
compared with certain types of biplane. Yet numbers of pupils have
been taught on monoplanes, and this without accident. There is also a
question whether, among biplanes, it is best to learn on a tractor
machine--one that is to say with the engine in front of the main
planes--or on a "pusher" type of craft; this last mentioned having its
motor behind the planes. Aeroplanes of both types are in use; and it
would be advantageous, of course, for a novice to accustom himself to
handle either. But from the point of view of those who operate large
flying schools, and have to weigh one point against another, and
eliminate so far as possible the elements of risk or difficulty, there
are very distinct advantages in a "pusher" biplane, such as is
illustrated facing page 34. The control of such a machine is simple,
and can be grasped quite readily. It provides the novice, when he is
seated in it, with a clear and unobstructed view of the ground
immediately in front of and below him; and this, in the early stages
of tuition, is an extremely important point. A craft of such a type,
also, when built specially for instruction, can be given a very strong
alighting gear, and this makes for safety when a pupil is in his first
tests, and may be guilty of an abrupt or rough descent. Again, while
such a school machine as this is engined adequately, it is at the same
time comparatively slow in flight, and has the advantage also that it
will alight at slow speeds. In the air, too, it has a large measure of
stability, and is not too rapid in its response to its controls. It
gives a pupil what is very necessary for him in his first flights, and
that is a certain latitude for error. It is safe to say, indeed,
without being dogmatic, that a "pusher" biplane of the type
illustrated, if constructed specially for school work, offers a pupil
two very clearly marked advantages. These are: (1) A craft which he
can learn to fly quickly; and (2) A machine on which he can pass
through his tuition with the least risk of accident.

This last-mentioned point is, naturally, one of extreme importance. It
is very necessary, apart from any question of personal injury, that a
pupil should be protected during his tuition from anything in the
nature of a bad smash. A man should start to learn to fly with full
confidence; the more he has the better, provided it is tempered with
caution. And if he can go through his training without accident, and
preserve the steadily growing confidence that his proficiency will
give him, he is on the high road to success as a pilot. But if he
meets with an accident while he is learning--some sudden and quite
unexpected fall--this may have a serious and a permanent influence on
his nerves, even if he escapes without injury. It happened frequently
in the early days that a promising pupil, a man who showed both
confidence and skill, had his nerve ruined, and all his "dash" taken
from him, by some unlucky accident while he was learning to fly.

There are certain minor points a pupil should consider when he selects
a flying school--points which have reference mainly to his own comfort
and convenience. He will prefer, for instance, other things being
equal, a school that is near some large town or city, and not buried
away inaccessibly. It is a convenience also, and one that facilitates
instruction, if a pupil can obtain, quite near the aerodrome, rooms
where he can live temporarily while undergoing his instruction, and so
be able to reach the flying ground in a minute or so, whenever and at
any time the weather conditions are favourable. It is a convenience
again if, either on the aerodrome itself or immediately adjacent,
there is a canteen or restaurant where meals and other refreshments
can be obtained. Dressing-rooms and reading rooms, when provided by
the proprietors of a school, add to the comfort of the novice while he
is in attendance on the aerodrome. In winter, particularly, such
facilities are required.

At a modern school, if it is well conducted, all heroics or
exceptional feats are discouraged. Pupils who want to do wild things
must be sternly repressed, even if only for the common good. The aim
is to train a certain number of pupils, not hastening over the tuition
but giving each man his full and complete course, and to do this with
a minimum of risk. In the early days of flying there were remarkable
exploits at the schools, and some very dangerous ones also. But
nowadays the reckless, happy-go-lucky spirit has gone. Tuition is
based on experience. Each pupil must submit to the routine, and listen
attentively to the instructions given him. There are no short
cuts--not at any rate with safety--in the art of learning to fly.

The question is asked, often, how long it should take a man to learn
to fly. It is almost impossible, though, to specify any fixed time. A
very great deal must depend on the weather. A pupil who joins a school
in the summer is more likely, naturally, to complete his tuition
quickly than one who begins in the winter. In periods when there are
high and gusty winds it may be necessary to suspend school work for
several days. But at such times the pupil need not be completely idle.
Lectures on aviation are organised sometimes by the schools; while a
pupil should have opportunities also--as has been mentioned before--of
going into the engine-shop and studying the repair and overhaul of
motors and machines.

It is on record that a pupil has learned to fly in a day, even in a
few hours; but here the circumstances, and the men, were exceptional.
Such an unusual facility represents one extreme; while as another, it
may happen that a man, owing to a combination of adverse circumstances,
is six months before he gains his certificate of proficiency. It may
be taken, as a rule, that a pupil should set aside say a couple of
months in order to undergo thoroughly, and without any haste, his full
period of tuition. School records prove, as a rule, that the pilots
who learn to fly abnormally quickly are apt to experience an abnormal
number of accidents at a later date, due principally to a lack of real
sound knowledge, which they should have gained during the period of
their tuition. One must learn to walk before one can run, and this
takes time; and the remark applies aptly to aviation. It is very
necessary for the pupil to spend as much time as he can on the
aerodrome. Much is to be learned, by an observant man, apart from the
actual time during which he is engaged with his instructor. If he
watches men who are highly skilled, he may gain many useful hints,
though he himself is on the ground.



CHAPTER II

TEMPERAMENT AND THE AIRMAN


As aviation passed from its earliest infancy, and a number of men
began to fly, the temperament of the individual pupil, and the effect
of this temperament on his progress as an aviator, began to reveal
itself. And temperament does play a large part in flying; as it does
in any sport in which a man is given control of a highly sensitive
apparatus, errors of judgment in the handling of which may lead to
disaster. It is not, as a rule, until he has passed through his early
stages of tuition, and has begun to handle an aeroplane alone, and is
beyond the direct control of his instructor, that the temperament of a
pupil really plays its part. Up to this point he is one among many,
conforming to certain rules, and obliged to mould himself to the
routine of the school. But when he begins to fly by himself, and
particularly when he has passed his tests for proficiency, and is
embarking, say, on cross-country flights, then this question of
temperament begins really to affect his flying.

All men who learn to fly--numbering as they do thousands
nowadays--cannot be endowed specially by nature for their task. There
is indeed a wide latitude for temperamental differences--always
provided that nothing more is required of a man than a certain average
of skill. But if a man is to become a first-class pilot, one
distinctly above the average, then the question of his temperament, as
it influences his flying, is certainly important.

A rough classification of the pupils at a school--just a preliminary
sorting of types--shows as a rule the existence of two clearly-marked
temperaments. One is that of the man who is deliberate, whose
temperament guards him from doing anything perfunctorily or in a hurry;
the other is that of a man--a type frequently encountered
nowadays--who while being quick, keen, and intelligent, mars these
good qualities by a temperamental impatience which he finds it
difficult or impossible to control, and which makes him irritable and
restless at any suggestion of delay.

Now the first of these men need not to be wholly commended, nor the
second entirely condemned. A capacity for deliberation, both in study
and in practice, is very useful when learning to fly. It will protect
a man from many errors, and render his progress sure, though it may be
slow. But something more than deliberation is required in the aviator
of distinction. There must be the vital spark of enterprise, the
temperamental quality which is known as "dash," the quick action of
the mind, in difficulty or peril, that will carry certain men to
safety through many dangers. This imaginative power is possessed as a
rule, though in ways that differ considerably, by the second type of
pupil we have described--the restless, impatient man. But in his case
this quality is, more often than not, marred by his instability; by
the lack of that judgment which is so necessary to counterbalance
imagination, but which is, unfortunately, not so often found.

A man who decides to become an aviator, and particularly if he intends
to fly professionally, should ask himself quite seriously if his
temperament is likely to aid him, or whether perhaps it may not be a
danger. This point is certainly one of importance, though it cannot be
stated directly or decided in so many words. There is a vital question
at least that the novice should ask himself; and this is whether his
temperament, whatever its general tendency may be, includes a
sufficient leavening of caution. In the navigation of the air caution
is indispensable. A pupil must remind himself constantly that, though
it appears easy--and is indeed easy--to learn to handle a machine in
flight, no liberties must under any circumstances be taken with the
air. Every instant a man is flying he needs to remember the value of
caution. In the air one cannot afford to make mistakes.

Naturally there is an ideal temperament for flying; but it is one
which, owing to the combination of qualities that are required, is
very rarely met with. The man who possesses it is gifted with courage,
ambition, "dash," and with a readiness in an emergency that amounts to
intuition. And yet these positive qualities are, in the ideal
temperament, allied to, and tempered by, a strong vein of prudence and
of caution. The pilot has absolute system, method, and thoroughness in
everything he does. The average pupil cannot hope to be so luckily
endowed. But he can study his personality, and seek to repress traits
that may seem harmful.

There is need in flying for a sound judgment, one that will enable a
man to come to a decision quickly and yet accurately. Things happen
rapidly in the air. It is one of the grim aspects of flying that, just
at a moment when everything appears secure, a sudden disaster may
threaten. So it is of vast importance to a pilot, if he has to fly
regularly, that he should have an instinctive and dependable judgment;
a capacity for deciding quickly and without panic; a capacity, when
several ways present themselves of extricating himself from some
quandary, of being able to choose the right one, and of not having to
think long before doing so. This implies a combination really of
judgment and resource. The man of confidence, the man of resource, is
well endowed for flying. But he must not be over-confident. The
over-confident man is a menace to himself and to others. It is not a
proper spirit at all in which to approach aviation. We do not know
enough about the navigation of the air to be in the least
over-confident. The spirit, rather, should be one of humility--a
determination to proceed warily, and to make very certain of what
limited knowledge we do possess.

Two of the worst traits in an aviator are impatience and irritability.
A man who has these temperamental drawbacks in a form which is
strongly marked, and who cannot control them, should not think of
becoming an aviator. The man who is impatient and irritable finds
himself out of harmony with the whole theory of aerial navigation.
There is a long list of "don'ts" in flying; in the handling of one's
machine, in the weather one flies in, in all the feats that one should
attempt and leave alone. A number of details must be memorised, and
must never be forgotten or overlooked, trivial though some of them may
seem. The frame of mind of the man who flies must be alert, yet quiet
and reposeful; he must be clear-headed, not hot-headed. The man who is
in a hurry, who ignores details when he sets out on a flight, is the
man who runs risks and is bound sooner or later to pay the penalty.
The perils of recklessness in flying are very great. The man who
"takes chances," who thinks he can do something when, as a matter of
fact, he has neither sufficient knowledge or experience, runs a very
grave and constant risk. It is the thoughtful, considering frame of
mind, particularly in a pupil, which is the safe one; but this must
not be taken to imply a type of man who lacks power of action.
Initiative, and a quick capacity for action, are most necessary in
aviation. New problems are being faced continually, and the brain
succeeds which is the most active and original.



CHAPTER III

FIRST EXPERIENCES WITH AN AEROPLANE

(AS DESCRIBED BY MR. GRAHAME-WHITE)


After a period of ballooning, which offers experience for an aviator
in the judging of heights and distances, and in growing accustomed to
the sensation of being in the air, I devoted a good deal of time and
attention--more indeed at the time, and in view of my other
responsibilities, than I could reasonably spare--to a study of the
theory of aeroplane construction, and to the making of models. This
was prior to 1909; Bleriot had not yet flown the Channel in his
monoplane. But when he did I put models aside, and determined to buy
an aeroplane and learn to fly.

At the end of August, 1909, so that I might inspect the various
aeroplanes that were then available, and they were few enough, I went
to Rheims, in France, and attended the first flying meeting the world
had seen. At the aerodrome I met and talked with the great pioneers:
with Bleriot, fresh from his cross-Channel triumph; with Levavasseur,
the designer of the beautiful but ill-fated Antoinette monoplane,
which had, through engine failure, let Hubert Latham twice into the
Channel during his attempts to make the crossing; with Henry Farman
who, fitting one of the first Gnome motors to a biplane of his own
construction, flew for more than three hours at Rheims, and created a
world's record; and also with M. Voisin, whose biplane was then being
flown by a number of pilots.

Finally, after careful consideration, I made a contract with M.
Bleriot to purchase from him, at the end of the meeting, a monoplane
of a type that appeared first at Rheims, and of which there was not
another model then in existence. This machine differed considerably
from the one with which M. Bleriot had flown the Channel. His
cross-Channel monoplane was a single-seated craft fitted with an
air-cooled motor of about 25 h.p. The machine I agreed to buy at
Rheims, and which was known as Bleriot No. XII., would carry two
people, pilot and passenger, while it had an 8-cylinder water-cooled
motor developing 60 h.p.--an exceptional power in those days. The
position of the occupants, as they sat in the machine, differed from
the arrangement in the cross-Channel Bleriot. In the latter the pilot
sat in a hull placed between the planes, and with his head and
shoulders above them. But in this new and larger machine the pilot and
passenger sat in seats which were placed below the planes.

The craft was, as a matter of fact, an experiment, being built almost
purely for speed; hence its powerful motor. M. Bleriot's idea, in
constructing it, was to have a machine with which he might win the
Gordon-Bennett international speed race at Rheims. But this hope he
did not realise; nor did I obtain delivery of the craft I desired.
Bleriot, flying alone in this big monoplane, started in a speed flight
for the Gordon-Bennett; but he was only a quarter of the way round the
course, on his second lap, when the machine was seen to break suddenly
into flames and crash to the ground from a height of 100 feet. It was
wrecked entirely, but Bleriot was fortunate enough to escape with
nothing worse than burns about the face and hands, and a general
shock. The cause of the accident was that an indiarubber tube, fixed
temporarily to carry petrol from the tank to the carburettor, had been
eaten through and had permitted petrol to leak out, and to ignite, on
the hot exhaust pipes of the motor.

The destruction of this monoplane was, to me, a great disappointment.
No other machine of the type was in existence, and I learned that it
would take three months to build one. M. Bleriot promised, however, to
put a machine in hand at once; and, as a special concession, I
obtained permission to go daily to the Bleriot factory and superintend
the construction of my own machine. This I did for a full period of
three months, working daily from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., and gaining some
valuable knowledge as to aeroplane construction.

On November 6, 1909, after delays which had tried my patience sorely,
I obtained delivery of the new machine--a replica of the craft that
had been destroyed at Rheims. It was too late that day to begin any
trials, so I and a friend who was with me arranged with M. Bleriot's
mechanics that we would be at Issy-les-Moulineaux early next morning,
and there put the craft through its preliminary tests. I can remember
we went to bed early, but sleep was impossible; we were both too
excited at the prospect that lay before us. So presently we got
up--this was at 2 a.m.--and drove out to the flying ground.

It was pitch dark when we arrived at the aerodrome, but the morning
promised to be favourable. Foggy it was; but there was no wind, and
the fog seemed likely to clear. We roused the caretaker, and, after
lengthy explanations and considerable monetary persuasion, induced him
to open the shed and allow us to prepare the machine for its first
flight. Then we waited for the mechanics and the first rays of dawn.
We felt a desire to get the big engine started up, but had been warned
of the risk of doing this without the help of mechanics. Time passed
and still the mechanics did not come. At last, there being now
sufficient light, we tied the aeroplane with ropes to a fence, so as
to prevent its leaping forward, and then started up the motor by
ourselves. I swung the nine-foot propeller--the only way of starting
the engine; and at the first quarter-turn the motor began to fire.
Then, as is quite usual, there was an incident that had been
unforeseen in our excitement. We had forgotten to take up the slack of
the rope; and the consequence was that, as the engine started, the
machine gave a bound forward that was sufficient to knock me down. But
I was unhurt, and picked myself up quickly. Then I hurried round to
the driving seat and took my place at the control levers, motioning to
my friend, who was looking after the ropes, to cast these loose and
jump into the seat beside me. This was easier said than done. Directly
he released the ropes the machine began to move across the ground,
gathering speed very quickly; but he managed somehow, before the
machine was running too fast, to scramble into the seat beside me.

Off we started across the aerodrome, the monoplane gaining a speed of
40 or 50 miles an hour. I did not attempt to rise from the ground,
feeling it very necessary at first to grow familiar with the controls.
So we sped along the ground for a distance of about a mile. Then, on
nearing the far end, I slowed down the motor and our speed dropped to
about 20 miles an hour. I wanted to turn the machine round on the
ground and run back again towards our starting point. But such a
manoeuvre, particularly for the novice, is far from easy. As the speed
of the machine is reduced, the pressure of air on the rudder is
lessened and so it loses its efficiency--in the same way that a ship
is difficult to steer when she begins to lose way. We were faced also
by another and a graver difficulty. Confused by the fog, which still
hung over the aerodrome, I had misjudged our position. We found we
were much nearer the end of the ground than I had imagined. In front
of us there loomed suddenly a boundary wall, against which it seemed
probable we should dash ourselves. There were no brakes on the machine;
no way of checking it from the driving seat. Our position seemed
critical.

It was now that I shouted to my friend, telling him to jump out of the
machine as best he could, and catch hold of the wooden framework
behind the planes, allowing the machine to drag him along the ground,
and so using the weight of his body as a brake. This, with great
dexterity, he managed to do, and we came to a standstill not more than
a foot or so from the wall. This proved a chastening experience; we
pictured our aeroplane dashed against the wall, and reduced to a mass
of wreckage. Very cautiously we lifted round the tail of the machine.
It was impossible to switch off the motor and have a rest, because, if
we had stopped it, we should not have been able to start it again
without our gear, which was away on the other side of the ground.

Now, having got the machine into position for a return trip across the
aerodrome, I accelerated the engine, and we started off back. For
about twenty minutes, without further incident, we ran to and fro; and
now I felt that I had the machine well in control--on the ground at
any rate. And so the next thing was to rise from the ground into the
air. I told my friend my intention, calling to him above the noise of
the motor; and I admired him for the calm way in which he received my
news. I should not have been surprised if he had demanded that I
should slow up the machine and let him scramble out. In those days it
was thought dangerous to go up even with a skilled and more or less
experienced pilot. How much greater, therefore, must have seemed the
risk of making a trial flight with me--a complete novice in the
control of a machine. But my friend nodded and sat still in his seat.
So I accelerated the motor and raised very slightly our rear elevating
plane. And then we felt we were off the ground! There was no longer
any sensation of our contact with the earth--no jolting, no vibration.
In a moment or so, it seemed, the monoplane was passing through the
air at a height of about 30 feet. This, to our inexperienced eyes,
appeared a very great altitude; and I made up my mind at once to
descend. This manoeuvre, that of making contact with the ground after
a flight, I had been told was the most difficult of all. It is not
surprising that this should be so. Our speed through the air was, at
the moment, about 50 miles an hour; and to bring a machine to the
ground when it is moving so fast, without a violent shock or jar, is a
manoeuvre needing considerable judgment. But, remembering that the
main thing was to handle the control lever gently, I managed to get
back again to the aerodrome without accident; and after this we turned
the machine round again and made another flight.

The fog had cleared by now, and we were surprised to see a number of
people running across the ground towards us. First there came the
tardy mechanics; and with them were a number of reporters and
photographers representing the Paris newspapers. These latter
had--though I only found this out afterwards--been brought by the
mechanics in the expectation of being able to record, with their
notebooks and cameras, some catastrophe in which we were expected to
play the leading parts. Knowing the powerful type of monoplane I had
acquired, a machine not suited for a novice, the mechanics had felt
sure some disaster would overtake me. But, as it happened, their
anticipations were not fulfilled. The journalists and photographers
did not, however, have a fruitless journey. Though there was nothing
gruesome to chronicle, they found ample material, when they learned of
them, in the early morning adventures of myself and my friend with
this 60 h.p. monoplane. Next day, in fact, our exploits were given
prominence in the newspapers, and I received a number of
congratulatory telegrams; not forgetting one of a slightly different
character which came from M. Bleriot. He was flying at the time in
Vienna, and he warned me of the dangers of such boldness as I had
displayed--having regard to the speed and power of my machine--and
pleaded with me for a greater caution.



CHAPTER IV

THE CONTROLLING OF LATEST-TYPE CRAFT


People are puzzled, often, when they try to explain to themselves how
it is that an aeroplane, which is so much heavier than air, manages to
leave the ground and to soar in flight. When balloons or airships
ascend, it is realised of course that the gas, imprisoned within their
envelopes, draws them upward. But the aeroplane--weighing with pilot,
passenger, and fuel perhaps several thousand pounds--rises without the
aid of a gas-bag and with nothing to sustain it but narrow planes; and
these do not beat, like the wings of a bird, but are fixed rigidly on
either side of its body. How is the weight of machine and man borne
through this element we cannot see, and which appears intangible?

The secret is speed--the sheer pace at which an aeroplane passes
through the air. As a craft stands on the ground, its planes are
inoperative. Power lies dormant in the air, but only when it is in
motion, or when some object or apparatus is propelled through it at
high speed. Have you stood on a height, in a gale, and felt an air
wave strike powerfully against your body? The blow is invisible; but
you yield a step, gasping; and, had you wings at such a moment, you
would not doubt the power of the wind to sweep you upward. This is the
force the aeroplane utilises.

If, on a calm day, you accelerate your motor-car to 60 miles an hour,
the air sweeps past you in a powerful stream; just as it would if you
were standing still, and there was a gale of wind. Instead of the wind
possessing the speed, in this instance, it is you who provide it. The
motor of an aeroplane, driving the propeller of the machine, turns
this at 1000 or more revolutions a minute, and causes its curved
blades to screw forward through the air as they turn, like those of a
ship's propeller through water--or a gimlet into wood. The propeller,
as it bores its way into the air, draws or pushes the aeroplane across
the ground; and the speed grows rapidly until the air, sweeping with
an increasing pressure beneath the planes, becomes sufficient to bear
the craft in flight.

But the wing of an aeroplane would not sustain its load unless
designed specially to act upon the air. A man, if he is unlucky enough
to fall from a tall building, passes through the air at a high speed.
His body obtains no support from the air; so he crashes to the ground.
This is because his body is heavy, and presents only a small surface
to the air. To secure a lifting influence from the air, it must be
struck swiftly with a large, light surface.

Men go to Nature when building wings for aeroplanes, and imitate the
birds. The wing of a bird arches upward from front to back, most of
the curve occurring near the forward edge; and this shape, when
applied to an aeroplane wing, is known as its camber. With an
aeroplane wing, if its curve is adjusted precisely, the air not only
thrusts up from below as a machine passes through it, but has a
lifting influence also from above; an effect that is secured by the
downward slope of the plane towards its rear edge. The air, sweeping
above the raised front section of the plane, is deflected upward, and
with such force that it cannot descend again immediately and follow
the downward curve of the surface. So, between this swiftly-moving air
stream, and the slope to the rear of the plane, a partial vacuum is
formed, and this sucks powerfully upward. With a single wing,
therefore, it is possible to gain a double lifting influence--one
above and one below.

The building of aeroplanes, once their wing lift is known, becomes a
matter of precision. According to the speed at which they fly, and the
size and curve of their planes, machines will sustain varying loads.
In some machines, as a general illustration--craft which fly fast--the
planes may bear a load equal to 10 lbs. per square foot. In others the
loading may be less than 3 lbs. per square foot.

Apart from raising a craft into the air, by the lifting power of its
wings, there is the problem of controlling it when in flight. The air
is treacherous, quickly moving. Gusts of abnormal strength, sweeping
up as they do invisibly, may threaten to overturn a machine and dash
it to earth. Eddies are formed between layers of warm and cold air.
There are, as a craft flies, constant increases or lessenings of
pressure in the air-stream that is sweeping under and over its wings;
and all these fluctuations influence its equilibrium. Unless,
therefore, a machine is automatically stable--and with craft of this
type we shall deal later--the pilot must be ready, by a movement of
the surfaces which govern the flight of the machine, to counteract
quickly, with a suitable action of his levers, the overturning
influence that may be exercised by a gust of wind. Here lies the art
of flying. A man is given a machine which, by the action of its motor
and propeller, will raise itself into the air; and it is his task,
when the craft is once aloft, to manipulate it accurately and without
accident, and to bring it to earth safely after he has made a flight.

In the description of controlling movements which follows we shall,
for the sake of convenience, and for the sake also of brevity, deal
only with the type of "pusher" biplane to which reference has been
made already, and on which large numbers of pupils have been, and are
being, trained to fly. This casts no aspersion whatever on tractor
machines or on monoplanes. On either, if he has an inclination, a
pupil can undergo his instruction, and do so usually with success. But
explanation is rendered more easy, and there is less likelihood of a
dispersal of interest, if one machine is selected for illustration;
and our reasons for the choice of a "pusher" biplane, regarded from
the point of view of tuition, have been explained already.

First, therefore, one may deal with raising the craft into the air,
and causing it to descend. In the photograph of the school machine
shown facing this page, it will be seen that the control surfaces are
indicated by lettering. In front of the biplane, on outriggers, is the
plane "A." This surface (aided in its action by a rear plane) governs
the rise or descent of the machine. When the motor is started, and the
propeller drives the biplane across the ground on its chassis B, the
machine would, if this lifting plane was held in a negative position,
continue to move forward on the earth and would make no attempt to
rise. In order to leave the ground, when the speed of the machine is
sufficient for its main-planes (C.C.) to become operative, and bear
its weight through the air, the pilot draws back slightly towards him
a lever, which is placed just to the right of his driving-seat and is
held with the right hand. A photograph which shows this lever, and the
other controls, appears facing page 36, the lever to which we are
referring being indicated by the figure 1. The effect on the aircraft
when the pilot draws back this lever--the motion being slight and made
gently--is to tilt up the elevating plane A, and this in its turn,
owing to the pressure of air upon it, raises the front of the machine.
The result of this alteration in the angle of the craft is that it
presents its main-planes at a steeper angle to the air. Their lifting
influence is increased, with the result that--at an angle governed by
the pilot with his movement of the elevating plane--they bear the
machine from the ground into the air.

  [Illustration: GRAHAME-WHITE SCHOOL BIPLANE (TYPE XV.) _Photo by
  Topical Press Agency._

  A.--The front elevating plane, which acts in conjunction with the
  rear-plane marked A1; B.--The landing-chassis; C.C.--The main-planes;
  D.D.--The ailerons; E.E.--The rudders; F.--Engine (a 60-h.p. Le Rhone)
  and propeller.]

A reverse movement of the elevator reduces the lift of the main-planes;
hence, when an aviator wishes to descend, he tilts down his elevator,
bringing his machine at such an angle that it is inclined towards the
ground. Then, switching off his engine so as to moderate the speed of
his descent, and by such manipulations as may be necessary of his
elevator, he pilots his craft to earth in a vol-plané, during which
gravity takes the place of his motor, and he is able--by steadying his
machine and bringing it into a horizontal position just at the right
moment--to make a gentle contact with the ground.

A pilot must be able to do more than cause his aeroplane to ascend and
to alight: he must have means to check the lateral movements which,
under the influence of wind gusts, may develop while the biplane is in
flight. At the rear extremities of the main-planes as illustrated in
the photograph facing page 34--and marked D.D.--are flaps, or ailerons,
which are hinged so that they may be either raised or lowered. These
ailerons are operated, through the medium of wires, by the same
hand-lever which governs the movement of the elevator. This lever is
mounted on a universal joint, and can be moved from side to side as
well as to and fro. Should the biplane tilt, while flying, say towards
the left, the pilot moves his hand-lever sideways towards the right.
This is a natural movement, the instinct being to move the lever away
from the direction in which the machine is heeling. This movement of
the lever has the effect of drawing down the ailerons on the left-hand
side of the machine; on the side, that is to say, which is tilted down;
and the depression of these auxiliary surfaces, increasing suddenly
as they do the lifting influence of the main-planes to which they are
attached, tend to thrust up the down-tilted wings, and so restore the
equilibrium of the machine.

In the operation of his ailerons, combined with the use of his
elevator, a pilot is given means to balance his craft while in flight.
One should not gain the impression that an aeroplane is threatening
ceaselessly to heel this way and that. This is not so. The machine has
a large measure of stability, apart from any manipulation of its
controls, and needs balancing only when some disturbance of the
atmosphere affects its equilibrium. Under favourable conditions, such
as a pupil will experience in his first flights, nothing more is
necessary with the hand-lever than a very slight but fairly constant
action; a similar motion, in a way, as is made by the driver of a
motor-car when he maintains, by his "feel" on the wheel, his sense of
control over the machine. In the controlling actions of an
aeroplane--and this is a fact which tends sometimes to the confusion
of the novice--nothing more is required, normally, than the most
delicate of movements. The difference say between ascending, and
skimming along the ground, is represented by a movement of the
hand-lever of only a few inches. Delicate, sure, quick, and firm; such
is the touch needed with an aeroplane.

With the one hand-lever, as we have shown, it is possible for a pilot
to control the rise and descent, and also the lateral movements of his
machine; and there remains only the steering to be effected--the
movement from side to side, from right to left, or vice-versa. At the
rear of the biplane, as shown facing page 34, will be seen two
vertical planes, E.E. These, being hinged, will swing from side to
side; and they exercise a sufficient influence, when working in the
strong current of air that blows upon them when a machine is in flight,
to steer it accurately in any direction. The pilot, to operate this
rudder, rests his feet on a conveniently-placed bar, which is mounted
on a central swivel, and allows the bar to be swung by a pressure of
either foot. When the pilot needs to make a turn say to the left, as
he is flying, he presses his left foot forward. This swings the bar in
same direction; and, by a simple connection of wires running to the
tail of the machine, the rudders are made to swing over to the left
also, and the machine turns in response to them. A similar movement to
the right produces a right-hand turn. This foot rudder bar, being
numbered 2, is shown in the picture facing page 36.

  [Illustration: THE CONTROLS OF A SCHOOL BIPLANE. _Photo by Topical
  Press Agency._

  1.--The upright lever which, working on a universal joint, operates
  the elevator and ailerons; 2.--The bar, actuated by the pilot's feet,
  which operates the rudders of the machine; 3.--The pilot's seat;
  4.--The passenger's seat.]

Apart from the movements we have described, which are extremely simple,
a pilot needs also to maintain control over his motor. Near his left
hand, fixed to the framework just at one side of his seat, are levers
which govern the speed of the engine, also the petrol supply; while
close to them is the switch by which the ignition can be switched on
or off.

A final word is necessary here, perhaps, and it is this: the glamour
and mystery which, in the early days, clung to the handling of an
aeroplane has now been dispelled almost entirely. A well-constructed
machine, flying under favourable conditions, requires surprisingly
little control; what it does, one may almost say, is to fly itself.



CHAPTER V

THE STAGES OF TUITION


Flying schools--those which really can be described as such--have been
in operation now for seven years; and during this time, with thousands
of pupils going through their period of tuition, many very valuable
lessons have naturally been learned. To-day, at a well-managed school,
each stage in a pupil's instruction, mapped out as a result of
experience, is arranged methodically and with care; the idea being
that the novice should pass from one stage to another by a
smoothly-graduated scale, facilitating his progress and reducing
elements of risk.

It is in the early morning, and again in the evening, that the flying
schools are most busy as a rule. At such times--morning and
evening--the wind blows with least violence; and it is very necessary
that a pupil, when he is handling craft for the first time, should
have weather conditions which are favourable. Summer and winter, as
soon as it is light, and granted conditions appear suitable, mechanics
wheel the aeroplanes from the sheds, and the instructors begin their
work. Should there be any doubt as to the weather, or as to the
existence, say, of difficult air currents, an instructor will fly
first, circling above the aerodrome at various heights, and satisfying
himself, by the behaviour of his machine, whether it will be safe for
the novices to ascend. If he pronounces "all well," school work begins
in earnest, and continues--provided the weather remains
favourable--until all the pupils have had a spell of instruction.
Towards the middle of the day, and in the afternoon, it is quite
likely the wind may blow and school work be suspended. But in the
evening again, when there is usually a lull, a second period of
instruction will be carried out. In well-equipped schools, to meet
such conditions as these, it is customary to provide two complete and
distinct staffs, both of instructors and mechanics. One staff takes
the morning spell of work, while the second is held in readiness for
the evening. This ensures that, both morning and evening, there shall
be available for instruction a fresh, alert, and unfatigued staff.

  [Illustration: REAR VIEW OF A SCHOOL BIPLANE. _Photo by Topical Press
  Agency._

  This photograph shows clearly the hinged ailerons fixed at the
  extremities of the plane-ends for maintaining lateral stability: also
  the rear elevating plane (which acts in conjunction with the
  fore-plane mounted on outriggers at the front of the machine) and the
  twin rudders.]

A pupil will find that, as the first stage of his tuition, he is given
the task of familiarising himself with the controls of a school
biplane. The system we have described already, and a pupil should find
no difficulty in mastering it. Placing himself in the driving-seat of
the machine, while it is at rest on the ground, the pupil takes the
upright lever in his right hand, and rests his feet on the rudder-bar,
making the various movements of control, again and again, until he
finds he is growing accustomed to them, and can place his levers in a
position for an ascent or descent, or for a turn, without having to
wait while he thinks what it is necessary to do.

In the next stage, a more interesting one, the pupil, occupying a seat
immediately behind his instructor, is taken for a series of passenger
flights. These accustom him to the sensation of being in the air, and
also train his eye in judging heights and distances. A minor point the
pupil should bear in mind, though his instructor will be quick to
remind him, is not to wear any cap or scarf that may blow free in the
rush of wind and become entangled with the propeller. Scarves need to
be tightly wrapped; while it is usual, with a cap, to turn it with the
peak to the back, and so prevent it from having a tendency to lift
from the head. Many pupils provide themselves with a helmet designed
to protect the head in case of an accident, and these are held firmly
in position. Should a passenger's cap blow off, and come in contact
with the propeller, it may be the cause of an accident. How
carelessness may lead to trouble, in this regard, will be gathered
from the following incident.

Some slight repairs had been made one day to the lower plane of a
machine while it stood out on the aerodrome, and one of the workmen,
through inadvertence, had left lying on the plane, near its centre, a
roll of tape. The pilot decided to make another flight, and the motor
was started and the machine rose. Suddenly the aviator was startled by
a sound like a loud report, which seemed to come from the rear of his
machine. The craft trembled for a moment, and he feared a structural
collapse. Nothing worse happened, however, and he was able to pilot
his machine in safety to the aerodrome. What had happened, it was then
ascertained, was that the roll of tape, sucked back in the rush of
wind, had been drawn into the revolving propeller and had broken a
piece out of it. Luckily the impact had not been heavy enough to
damage the propeller seriously, or cause it to fly to pieces.

A problem with which the pupil will be faced in his first flights,
particularly if he is learning in winter, will be that of keeping
himself warm. The speed at which an aeroplane travels, combined with
the fact that it is at an elevation above the ground, renders the
"bite" of the cold air all the more keen, and makes it difficult very
frequently, even when one is warmly clad, to maintain a sufficient
warmth in the body, and particularly in the hands and feet. The
question of cold hands is, from a pilot's point of view, often a
serious one. There is a case on record of an aviator who, his hands
being so numbed that his fingers refused to move, found he could not
switch off his motor when the time came to descend; and so he had to
fly round above the aerodrome, several times, while he worked his numb
fingers to and fro, and beat some life into them against his body. At
last, having restored their circulation to some extent, he was able to
operate the switch and make a landing. While on active service in
winter, after flying several hours at high altitudes, and in bitter
cold, the occupants of a machine have descended in such a numbed
condition, despite their heavy garments, that it has been found
necessary to lift them out of their seats. But a pupil need not face
such hardships as these. He will be flying for short periods only, and
at low altitudes; so if he makes a few wise purchases from among the
selection of flying gear now available, and particularly if he equips
himself with some good gloves, he should be able to keep sufficiently
warm in the air, even if he is going through his training in winter.

  [Illustration: POWER-PLANT OF A SCHOOL BIPLANE. _Photo by Topical
  Press Agency._

  Showing the 60-h.p. Le Rhone Motor, with its mounting on the machine,
  and the method of attaching the propeller. The fuel tank is also
  visible; and, forward at the front of the machine, the seats of
  passenger and pilot.]

A pupil will feel curious, naturally, as to his sensations in the
first flights he makes with his instructor. Of the exact moment when
the machine leaves ground he will be unaware probably, save for the
cessation of any jolting or vibration, such as may be caused by the
contact of the running wheels with the surface of the aerodrome. His
first clearly-marked sensation, when in actual flight, will occur most
likely when the pilot rises a little sharply, so as to gain altitude.
Then the pupil will have a feeling one might liken to the ascent, in a
motor-car, of a steep and suddenly-encountered hill; though in this
case the hill is invisible, and there is no earth contact to be felt.
This sensation of climbing is exhilarating; and when the pilot makes a
reverse movement, descending towards the ground, the feeling is
pleasant enough also, provided the dive is not too steep.

The pupil's chief sensation, probably, will be that of the rush of
wind which beats against him. Some people feel this much more than
others. There is sometimes a feeling--it is no more than temporary--of
inconvenience and of shock. The pupil feels as though his breathing
was being interfered with seriously; as though the pressure was so
great he could not expel air from his lungs. But this sensation, even
when it is experienced, is short-lived. In a second flight, quite
often, the novice finds that this oppression diminishes very
perceptibly; and soon he does not notice it at all. Motoring
experience proves useful here, particularly high-speed driving on a
track.

Some confusion is felt by the pupil, as a rule, and this is only
natural, in regard to the pace at which the aeroplane travels through
the air, and at the way in which the ground seems to be tearing away
below. Occasionally, in a first flight, this impression of speed, and
of height, produce in the pupil a sensation of physical discomfort;
but it is one again which, in the majority of cases, is quickly
overcome. A few balloon trips are a useful preliminary to flights in
an aeroplane. They familiarise one in a pleasant way with the
sensation of height, and accustom the eye also to the look of the
ground, as it passes away below.

While he is making his first flights with the instructor, and apart
from analysing his sensations, the pupil will observe the lever
movements made by the pilot in controlling the machine; and the fact
that will impress itself upon him, as he watches these movements, is
that they are not made roughly or spasmodically, but are almost
invariably gentle. During these flights as a passenger, and after he
has accustomed himself to the novelty of being in the air, the pupil
will be allowed by the instructor to lean forward and place his hand
on the control lever; and in this way, by actually following and
feeling for himself the control actions the pilot makes, he will gain
an idea of just the extent to which the lever must be moved, to gain
any specific result in the flight of the machine.

  [Illustration: MOTOR AND OTHER GEAR--ANOTHER VIEW. _Photo by Topical
  Press Agency._

  This shows the constructional unit that is formed, on a suitably
  strong framework of wood, by the engine, propeller, and fuel tank, and
  also by the seats for the pilot and passenger.]

The next stage of tuition is that in which a pupil is allowed to
handle a biplane alone, not in flight though but only in "rolling"
practice on the ground--driving the machine to and fro across the
aerodrome. The motor is adjusted so that, while it gives sufficient
power to drive the machine on the ground and render the control
surfaces effective, it will not permit the craft to rise into the air.
This stage, a very necessary one, teaches the pupil, from his own
unaided experience just what movements he must make with his levers to
influence the control surface of the machine, and to maintain it, say,
on a straight path while it runs across the ground. One of the
discoveries he will make is that the biplane, if left to itself, shows
a tendency to swerve a little to the left--the way the propeller is
turning; but this inclination may be corrected, easily, by a movement
of the rudder.

The pupil learns also to accustom himself, while in this stage, to the
engine controls which have been explained already; and he is not
likely to be guilty of the error of one excitable novice who, while
driving his machine back on the ground towards the sheds at an
aerodrome, after his first experience in "rolling" became so confused,
as he saw the buildings looming before him, that he lost his head
completely and forgot to switch off his motor. The result was that the
aeroplane, unchecked in its course, crashed into some railings in
front of the sheds and stood on its head. Not much damage was done
however, and the novice was unhurt. He seemed as surprised as anyone
at what had happened, and confessed that, for the moment, his mind had
been an utter blank.

A pupil continues his practice in "rolling" till he can drive his
machine to and fro across the aerodrome on a straight course, and with
its tail raised off the ground; the latter action being obtained by
the pupil by means of a suitable movement of the vertical lever which
operates his elevating planes.

Now comes the time when a pupil, taking the pilot's seat, and with the
instructor sitting behind him--so as to be ready, if necessary, to
correct any error the novice may make--begins his first short flights
across the aerodrome. He rises only a few feet to begin with, and
flies on a straight course, alighting each time before he turns, and
running his machine round on the ground. He repeats this test until
his instructor feels he is sufficiently expert to take the machine
into the air alone. When this stage is reached, the instructor leaves
his position behind the pupil, and the latter goes on with his
practice till he can fly the length of the aerodrome alone, landing
neatly and bringing his machine round on the ground, and then flying
back again to his starting point.

In the early days of flying schools, before a pupil went through any
regular system of instruction, there were remarkable incidents in
regard to these first flights. In one case a pupil, having bought his
own aeroplane from the proprietors of a school, insisted on having
installed in it a motor of exceptional power. When the time came for
him to make his first flight alone, and he opened the throttle of this
engine and it began to give its full power, the aeroplane ran only a
short distance across the ground, and then leapt into the air. The
engine was in charge of the machine, in fact, and not the pupil. Away
above the aerodrome, and beyond its limits, in a strange, erratic
flight, the biplane made its way. As the pupil struggled valiantly
with his engine switch, which appeared to have become jammed, he made
unconscious and jerky movements of his control levers. One moment the
machine would ascend a little, the next it would approach nearer the
ground; then it would swing either right or left. Those watching from
the aerodrome held their breath. But with the luck of the beginner, a
luck which is proverbial and sometimes amazing, the pupil managed at
length to stop his motor and land without accident--though by no means
gracefully--in an abrupt gliding descent.

  [Illustration: PUPIL AND INSTRUCTOR READY FOR A FLIGHT. _Photo by
  Topical Press Agency._

  The pupil, occupying in this case the driving seat, has in his right
  hand the lever controlling the elevator and ailerons, while his feet
  are on the bar which operates the rudder. The instructor (in the
  passenger's seat) is demonstrating how, when necessary, he can place
  his hand on the control lever, above that of the pupil, and correct
  any error in manipulation of which the latter may be guilty.]

Another story concerns one of those temperamentally reckless,
happy-go-lucky men who, though providence seems to watch over them,
are an anxiety nevertheless to their instructors. This pupil, breaking
the rules of a school, flew out on one of his first flights beyond the
limits of the aerodrome, disappearing indeed from the view of those
near the sheds. Not far from the aerodrome lay a main road, with
tramway-lines along it. A tram, with passengers on top, happened to be
passing down the road; and it was to the astonishment of these
passengers, and to their perturbation as well, that they observed an
aeroplane in full flight, moving very low across a neighbouring field,
and bearing down straight towards them. The machine passed, indeed,
unpleasantly close above their heads, and then vanished as
dramatically as it had appeared. Its pilot, as may be guessed, was the
pupil who had disobeyed orders, and was now on a wild and erratic
flight. Presently, after swerves and wanderings over the surrounding
country, he was discerned making his way back towards the aerodrome,
still flying unreasonably low. Some trees bordered one end of the
aerodrome; and towards these, as though he meant to finish his exploit
by charging into them, the novice was seen to be steering an
undeviating course. Nearer he came to them, and still he did not turn
either right or left. The instructor, and those gathered with him,
made up their minds that nothing could avert an accident. But it
happened that there was, between two of the trees, a space only large
enough for an aeroplane to pass through. A skilled pilot, a man of
experience, would not have cared to risk his machine in an endeavour
to creep between those trees. But this pupil, a complete novice,
steered boldly towards the opening and slipped through it with a
precision that would have aroused the envy of an accomplished pilot.
Then he landed on the aerodrome and climbed in leisurely fashion from
his machine--"not having turned a hair," as the saying goes. The
remarks of the instructor when he neared the machine, and began to
unburden himself, do not appear to be on record, and no doubt this is
as well.

Having shown his ability to make a succession of straight flights,
taking his machine into the air with precision and landing without
awkwardness, the pupil finds himself faced next with the problem of
turning while in the air. On this stage, however, he is not allowed to
embark alone. The instructor takes his place again in the passenger's
seat, so as to be ready to help the novice should he become confused,
or find himself in any difficulty. Turns to the left are attempted
first; and the reason is that, the propeller of the aeroplane
revolving to the left--and the motor too if it is a rotary one--the
machine has a tendency which is natural to turn in this direction.
Half turns only are tried at first, the pupil landing before he has
completed the movement. In making these first turns a pupil finds that,
apart from his action with the rudder-bar, it is necessary to employ
the ailerons slightly, so as to prevent the biplane from tilting
sideways. The outer plane-ends of the machine have indeed, when a turn
is being made, a natural tendency to "bank" as it is called, or tilt
upward; the reason being that, as the machine swings round, these
outer plane-ends, moving faster for the moment than the wing-tips on
the inside of the turn, exercise a greater lift, and have an
inclination to rise. An experienced aviator, having learned what is a
safe "banking" angle, makes a deliberate use of this tendency when he
is turning, and may on occasion even exaggerate it, to facilitate the
swing of his machine on a very rapid turn, and to prevent it skidding
outwards. But with the novice, engrossed completely as he is with the
mere problem of getting his machine round in the air, "banking" is an
art that must be deferred for awhile. It is perilously easy, for a
beginner, to overstep the danger-line between a safe "bank" and a
side-slip.

  [Illustration: PUPIL AND INSTRUCTOR IN FLIGHT (1). _Photo by Topical
  Press Agency._

  A school biplane is seen just after it has left the ground, with the
  pupil at the control levers, and the instructor seated behind
  him--ready, if necessary, to correct any error the novice may make.]

It is not long before the pupil can make a full left-hand turn; and
then he goes on to perfect himself in this movement, flying alone now,
and repeating the turn till he feels he can make it with confidence,
and at a fair height.

And now he comes to his final evolutions. Having mastered the
left-hand turn, he proceeds to make one to the right. It used to be
the contention--a contention that is now disputed--that in this
movement, if the pupil employed his rudder-bar only, he would find the
biplane showed an inclination to rise; a tendency due to the
gyroscopic influence of the engine and propeller which--assuming a
rotary engine is used--are now revolving in the opposite direction to
that on which the machine is turned. What the pupil was recommended to
do, in order to counteract this rising movement, was to tilt down his
elevator a little, as he would in making a descent.

When right-hand turns can be made with the same facility as those to
the left, the pupil begins to combine the two without descending,
making left turns and right turns, and so achieving in the air a
series of figures of eight. He learns also to fly a little higher,
thus preparing himself for one of his certificate tests.

There are now certain very important rules which, in the navigation of
his craft, he must accustom himself to bear constantly in mind. Should
the engine of his machine, for example, betray any signs of failing,
he must tilt down his elevator very promptly, and place his craft in a
position for a descent. If he does not do this, and should the motor
stop before he has his biplane at an angle for descent, the machine
may lose speed so quickly, and its tail-planes show such a tendency to
droop--owing to the lessening of pressure on their surfaces,
consequent upon the failure of the motor--that there is a risk of the
craft coming to a standstill in the air and then either falling
tail-first, or beginning a side-slip that may bring it crashing to the
ground.

The pupil must learn also, and this again is important, not to force
his machine round on a turn while it is climbing. If he does so the
power absorbed in the ascent, combined with the resistance of the turn,
may so reduce the speed of the machine that it threatens to become
"stalled," or reach a standstill in the air, with the result that it
either side-slips or falls tail-first. The procedure the pupil is
taught to follow is this: when he leaves the ground he climbs a little,
then he allows his machine to move straight ahead; then he proceeds
to ascend again for a spell, repeating afterwards the horizontal
flight. In this way he ascends by a series of steps, like climbing a
succession of hills in a car; and his turns should be made only during
the spells when he is flying horizontally.

In this stage of his tuition, the pupil must learn also to make a
vol-plané, or descent with his engine stopped. The essential point to
be borne in mind, here, is that an aeroplane will continue in flight,
and remain under control, even when it is no longer propelled by its
engine. But what the aviator must do, should his engine stop through a
breakdown, or should he himself switch it off, is to bring the force
of gravity to his aid, and maintain the flying speed of his craft by
directing it in a glide towards the ground. Provided he does this, and
keeps his machine at such an inclination that it is moving at a
sufficient speed through the air, he will find that the craft
maintains its stability and that he has full command over its control
surfaces, being able to turn, say, right or left, or either increase
or slightly decrease the steepness of his descent. But all the time,
of course, seeing that it is gravity alone which is giving him his
flying speed, he is obliged to plane downward.

  [Illustration: PUPIL AND INSTRUCTOR IN FLIGHT (2). _Photo by Topical
  Press Agency._

  This shows clearly how the instructor, from his seat behind the pupil,
  can lean forward and, by placing his hand on the control lever, check
  the novice in an error of manipulation.]

A vital point to remember, when a pupil is handling a "pusher" type of
biplane, is to incline the machine well downward, by a use of the
elevator, before switching off the motor. Unless this is done, and if
the machine is, say, at its normal horizontal angle when the engine is
stopped, the sudden removal of pressure from the tail-planes of the
craft, brought about by the absence of the wind-draught from the
propeller, may cause the tail so to droop as to render inoperative any
subsequent action of the elevator. When the tail droops, the
main-planes are set at a steep angle to the air, and this has a
slowing-up influence on the whole machine. It threatens therefore to
stand still in the air; its controls become useless; and the pupil is
faced probably with the danger of a side-slip.

A story will illustrate this point; and it is one that has a special
significance, seeing that the error which might have cost him his life
was made by an aviator of experience. He had learned to fly on a
monoplane, and had devoted his subsequent flying, for many months, to
this one type of machine. Then he found himself associated with an
enterprise in which a number of "pusher" biplanes were employed, and
he decided that it would be useful for him to become accustomed to
this type of machine. His flying experience of course helped him, and
he soon found himself passing to and fro above the aerodrome, the
biplane well in hand. Then he thought he would make a vol-plané, with
his motor stopped, as he had been in the habit of doing in a
monoplane. He switched off his engine without further thought, and
moved his elevator to a position for the descent. But it was here that
he made the mistake. In a monoplane, which has the weight of the
engine and other gear well forward in the machine, the bow has a
natural tendency to tilt down when the motor is cut off--particularly
as the propeller-draught ceases to sweep under the sustaining planes.
Therefore one can, in such a machine, switch off safely without first
shifting the elevator, and getting the bow down as a preliminary. What
the pilot had forgotten, for the moment, was the essential difference
between monoplane and biplane. When he had switched off the engine in
the biplane, and moved his elevator as he was accustomed to do, he
found to his dismay that the machine failed to respond. Instead of
pointing its bow down, indeed, it began to tilt rearward. Also, and
this fact was noted by the airman with even more dismay, the craft
lost forward speed so rapidly that it became uncontrollable. The next
moment, the pilot helpless in his seat, the machine began a side-slip
towards the ground. One sweep it made sideways, falling till it was
not far short of the surface of the aerodrome. It paused an instant,
then began a side-slip in the opposite direction. But here good
fortune came to the pilot's aid. In this second swing, the machine
being near the ground, it came in contact with the surface of the
aerodrome before the "slip" had time to develop any high rate of
speed. The biplane took the ground sideways, breaking its
landing-chassis and damaging the plane-ends which came first in
contact with the earth. But the pilot emerged from the wreckage
unhurt. The accident was a lesson to him, though, as it was to others,
and as it should be to all pupils. A machine must be in a gliding
position before the engine is switched off.

The art of the accomplished pilot, granted there is no reason for him
to reach earth quickly, is to glide at as fine an angle as is possible,
consistent of course with maintaining the speed of the machine
through the air, and so preserving his command over its controls. A
beautifully-timed, fine glide, the machine stealing down gracefully,
and touching the aerodrome light as a feather, at a precise spot the
airman has decided on even when he was several thousand feet high, is
a delightful spectacle for the onlooker, and a keen pleasure
also--from the point of view of his manipulative skill--to the aviator
himself. But a pupil, at any rate in his first attempts, must not
concern himself too much with any idea of a fine or graceful glide. It
is his business to get to the ground safely, and not trouble too much
whether his method is accomplished, or merely effective. Once with the
bow of his machine down, and his motor switched off, it must be his
concern to maintain the forward speed of his machine, which can be
done only by holding it well on its dive. For the novice, if he
attempts any fine or fancy gliding, there is the very real danger that,
in his inexperience, he may lose forward speed to such an extent that
his controls become inoperative, and his machine threatens to
side-slip. One's ear should, apart from the inclination of the machine,
and the sensation of the descent, help one materially in judging the
speed of a glide. There is a "swish" that comes to the ear, now the
engine is no longer making its clamour, which gives a guide to the
pace of one's downward movement. Aviators who are skilled, and have
done a large amount of flying, are able to judge with accuracy, by the
ear alone and without the aid of a mechanical indicator, what their
speed is as they pass through the air.

  [Illustration: PUPIL AND INSTRUCTOR IN FLIGHT (3). _Photo by Topical
  Press Agency._

  Here the pupil is descending in a glide with his engine stopped, the
  cylinders of the rotary motor being clearly visible.]

Having held his machine firmly on its glide, till it is quite near the
surface of the aerodrome, the pupil has next to think of making a neat
contact with the ground. The art here is, at a moment which must be
gauged accurately, to check the descent of the machine by a movement
of the elevator--to "flatten out," as the expression goes. If the
movement is made neatly the craft should, when only a few feet from
the ground, change from a descent into horizontal flight, and continue
on this horizontal flight for a short distance, losing speed naturally
each moment--seeing that there is no driving power behind it--and so
losing altitude also through its decrease in speed, until its wheels
come lightly in contact with the ground, and it runs forward and then
stands still. What the novice may do, if he is not careful, is to
"flatten out" when he is too high above the ground. The result is that
the machine slows up till it stands still in the air, robbed of its
speed, and then makes what is called a "pancake" landing: it descends
vertically, that is to say, instead of making contact with the ground
at a fine angle and with its planes still supporting it; and the
effect of such a "pancake," if the machine comes down with any force,
may be that the landing-chassis is damaged, or perhaps wrecked. But as
a rule, remembering that he has careful instruction to guide him
before he attempts a gliding descent, the pupil masters the art of
landing without difficulty, and without mishap.

Now, after repeating perhaps certain of his evolutions, at the
discretion of his instructor, in order to make sure that he can
accomplish them with ease, the pupil is ready for the tests which will
give him his certificate of proficiency.



CHAPTER VI

THE TEST FLIGHTS


The sport of aviation is controlled throughout the world, and flying
tests and events of a competitive character are governed, by the
International Aeronautical Federation. To the deliberations of this
central authority are sent delegates from the Aero Clubs of various
countries; and to these Aero Clubs, each in its respective country,
falls the task of governing flight, according to the rules and
decisions of the central authority. In Britain, controlling aviation
in the same way that the Jockey Club controls the Turf, we have the
Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom; and it is this body, acting in
its official capacity, which grants to each new aviator, after he has
passed certain prescribed tests, a certificate which proclaims him a
pilot of proved capacity, and without which it is impossible for him
to take part in any contests held under the auspices of the Club. The
certificate, which is of a convenient size for carrying in the pocket,
contains a photograph of the pilot for purposes of identification, and
specifies also the rules under which the certificate is issued and
held.

The theory of these tests, as imposed by the Club before it grants its
certificates, is that the novice should--so far as is possible in one
or two flights, made over a restricted area, and in a limited space of
time--be called on to show that he has a full control over a machine
in what may be called the normal conditions of flight. He is asked to
ascend, for instance, and gain a fair flying altitude; then to make
such evolutions as will demonstrate his command over the control
surfaces of the machine; and finally to show that he can, with his
motor switched off, descend accurately in a vol-plané, and bring his
machine to a halt within a specified distance of a mark. The tests are
set forth, officially, as follows:--

  _A and B._ Two distance flights, consisting of at least 5 kilometres
  (3 miles 185 yards) each in a closed circuit, without touching the
  ground; the distance to be measured as described below.

  _C._ One altitude flight, during which a height of at least 100 metres
  (328 feet) above the point of departure must be attained; the descent
  to be made from that height with the motor cut off. The landing must
  be made in view of the observers, without re-starting the motor.

The rules drafted by the Club to govern these flights
are set forth herewith:--

  The candidate must be alone in the aircraft during the tests.

  The course on which the aviator accomplishes tests A and B must be
  marked out by two posts situated not more than 500 metres (547 yards)
  apart.

  The turns round the posts must be made alternately to the right and to
  the left, so that the flights will consist of an uninterrupted series
  of figures of eight.

  The distance flown will be reckoned as if in a straight line between
  the two posts.

  The alighting after the two distance flights in tests A and B shall be
  made:--

  (_a_) By stopping the motor at or before the moment of touching the
  ground.

  (_b_) By bringing the aircraft to rest not more than 50 metres
  (164 feet) from a point indicated previously to the candidate.

  All alightings must be made in a normal manner, and the observers must
  report any irregularity.

These flights as specified to-day, though they present no difficulty
to the pupil who has been well trained, are more stringent than they
were in the first scheme of tests as prescribed by the Club, and as
enforced for several years. In those early rules the distances were
the same as they are to-day, but in the altitude flight the height
required was only 50 metres (164 feet)--just half the height specified
to-day. It was not laid down, either, in the first rules, that the
engine should be stopped in this altitude flight when at the maximum
height, and that the descent should be made in a complete vol-plané,
without once re-starting the motor. As originally framed, indeed, the
rule as to the control of the engine in this altitude test was the
same as in regard to the distance flights--_i.e._, that it should be
stopped "at or before the moment of touching the ground." What the
present rule means, in this respect, is that the pupil must be really
proficient at making a vol-plané, without any aid at all from his
engine, before he can hope to pass the test; and such a proved
skill--say in the making of his first cross-country flight, should his
engine fail suddenly--may spell the difference between a safe or a
dangerous landing.

The test flights for the certificate, undertaken only in such weather
conditions as the pupil's instructor may think suitable, are watched
by official observers appointed by the Royal Aero Club. It is the
business of these observers, when the prescribed flights have been
made, to send in a written report concerning them to the Club; and
acting on this report, after it has been considered and shown to be in
order, the Club issues to the pupil his numbered certificate. With the
successful passing of his tests the pupil's tuition is at an end. He
is regarded no longer as a novice, but as a qualified pilot.



CHAPTER VII

PERILS OF THE AIR


There are people, very many people, who still regard flying as an
undertaking of an unreasonable peril, essayed mainly by those who are
in quest of money, notoriety, or sensation at any price. Such
people--still to be met with--have one mental picture, and one only,
of the flight of an aeroplane. They imagine a man in the air--and this
mere idea of altitude makes them shudder; and they picture this man in
a frail apparatus of wood and wire, capable of breaking to pieces at
any moment; or even if it does not break, needing an incessant
movement of levers to maintain it in a safe equilibrium; while they
reckon also that, should the engine of the machine suffer any
breakdown, the craft will drop to earth like a stone. Prejudice dies
hard; harder no doubt in England than in other countries. There are
still people, not few of them but many, who would be ready to declare,
offhand, that one aeroplane flight in six ends in a disaster.

It is a truism, but one that has a peculiar truth in aviation, to say
that history repeats itself. To-day we find large numbers of people
who still cherish the opinion that--save perhaps when on service in
war--it is nothing less than criminal foolishness for men to ascend in
aeroplanes. That attitude of mind persists; the growing safety of
flight has not affected it to any appreciable degree. But those eager
for the progress of aviation need not despair, or imagine that their
particular industry is being treated with any exceptional
disapprobation. They have only to look back a little in our history,
no great distance, and read of the receptions that were accorded the
first pioneers of our railways. Public meetings of protest have not
been held to condemn aviation; yet they were frequent in the days when
the first railways were projected. Vast indignation was indeed aroused;
it was declared to be against all reason, and a matter of appalling
risk, that people should be asked to travel from place to place in
such "engines of destruction." But the railways managed to survive
this storm. They were placed here and there about the country; they
were improved rapidly; and it would be hard, to-day, to find a safer
place than the compartment of a railway train.

Motor-cars, when their turn came, had to go through a similar ordeal.
There was the same indignation, the same chorus of protest; and when
the first of the pioneers, greatly daring, began actually to drive
their cars on the public highway, there were people who believed, and
who declared forcibly, that to permit such machines on our roads was
the crime of the century. Had not these pioneers struggled valiantly,
sparing neither time nor money, it is possible that the motor-car
might have been driven from the highway. But here again progress,
though it was retarded, could not be checked. The motor-car triumphed.
It grew rapidly more reliable, more silent, more pleasing to the eye;
and to-day it glides in thousands along our roads, a pleasure to those
who occupy it, a nuisance neither to pedestrians nor to other wheeled
traffic; more under control when it is well driven, and more ready to
stop quickly when required, than any horsed vehicle which it may have
replaced. At one time the papers were full of such headlines as:
"Another Motor-car Accident." Each small mishap received prominent
attention: and to the majority of people it seemed the wildest folly
to travel in such vehicles. Yet to-day--such is progress--these same
people ride in a motor-car, or a motor-cab, quite as a matter of
course and without a thought of risk.

When one discusses flying and its dangers, it is essential to maintain
an accurate sense of proportion. In the very earliest days, for
instance, it must be realised that the few men who then flew--they
could be numbered on the fingers of one hand--exercised the greatest
caution. They did not fly in high winds; they treated the air,
realising its unknown perils, with a very great and a very commendable
respect. Thus it was that thousands of miles were flown, even with the
crudest of these early machines, and with motors that were constantly
giving trouble, without serious accident. But after this, and very
quickly, the number of airmen grew. New aviators appeared every day;
contests were organised extensively; there were large sums of money to
be won, provided that one pilot could excel another. And the spirit of
caution was abandoned. Even while they were still using purely
experimental machines--craft of which neither the stability nor the
structural strength had been tested adequately--there grew a tendency
among airmen to fly in higher winds, to subject their machines to
greater strains, and to attempt dangerous manoeuvres so as to please
the crowds who paid to see them fly.

It was not surprising, therefore, that flying entered upon an era of
accidents. Such disasters were inevitable--inevitable, that is to say,
in view of the tendencies that then prevailed; though it is a
melancholy reflection that, had men been content to go ahead with the
same slow sureness of the pioneers, many of those lives which were
lost could have been saved.

To the public, not aware exactly of all that was going on, it appeared
as though the navigation of the air, instead of growing safer, was
becoming more dangerous. There were suggestions, indeed, made quite
seriously and in good faith, that these endeavours to fly should cease;
that the law should step in, and prevent any more men from risking
their lives. What people failed to realise, when they adopted this
view, was that instead of one or two men flying there were now
hundreds who navigated the air; that flights in large numbers were
being made daily; that thousands of miles instead of hundreds were
being traversed by air--and often under conditions the pioneers would
have considered far too dangerous. These facts, had they been realised,
would have shown people what was actually the true state of affairs;
that, though accidents seemed numerous, and were indeed more frequent
than they had been in the earliest days of flying, they were as a
matter of proportion, reckoning the greater number of men who were
flying, and the thousands of miles which were flown, growing steadily
less frequent.

There was this important fact to be reckoned with also. Each accident
that happened taught its lesson, and so made for future safety. A
considerable number of those early accidents can, for instance, be
traced to some structural weakness in a machine. The need in an
aircraft then, as now, was lightness; and in those days designers and
builders, owing purely to their inexperience, had not learned the art,
as they have to-day, of combining lightness with strength. So it was
that, as more powerful motors began to be fitted to aeroplanes, and
greater speeds were attained, it happened sometimes, when a machine
was being driven fast through a wind, that a plane would collapse, and
send the machine crashing to the ground; or in making a dive, perhaps,
either of necessity or to show his skill, a pilot would subject his
machine to such a strain that some part of it would break.

From such disasters as a rule, greatly to be regretted though they
were, the industry emerged so much the wiser. The strength of machines
was increased; the engines which drove them were rendered more
reliable; and gradually too, though none too rapidly, the airmen who
piloted them grew in knowledge and skill. But all this time, while
flying was being made more safe, there were accidents frequently for
the papers to report; and this was due entirely to the fact that there
were now thousands of men flying, where previously there had been
fifties and hundreds. The public could not realise how rapidly the
number of airmen had grown; that practically every day, at aerodromes
scattered over Europe, flights were so frequent that they were
becoming a commonplace. It was in 1912, as one of its many services to
aviation that the Aero Club of France was able to show, by means of
statistics which could not be questioned, that for every fatality
which had occurred in France, during that particular year, a distance
of nearly 100,000 miles had been flown in safety.

The cause of many of the early accidents was, as we have suggested,
the breakage of some part of a machine while in flight. In an analysis
for instance of thirty-two such disasters, it was shown that fourteen
were due to the collapse of sustaining planes, control-surfaces, or
some other vital part of a machine. And this risk of breakage in the
air was increased, in many cases, by the building of experimental
machines by men who had no qualifications for their task, and who
erred only too frequently, in their desire to attain lightness, on the
side of a lack, rather than an excess, of structural strength.

There are many cases, unfortunately, that might be cited; but one may
be sufficient here. A man with an idea for a light type of biplane, a
machine designed mainly for speed, had an experimental craft
built--this was in the pioneer days of 1909--and insisted on fitting
to it a motor of considerable power. It was pointed out to him that
his construction was not sufficiently strong, in view of the speed at
which his machine would pass through the air. But he was of the quiet,
determined, self-opinionated type, who pursued his own way and said
little. He did not strengthen his constructional, and he began a
series of flying tests. In the first of these, which were short, the
planes stood up to their work, and the fears of the critics seemed
groundless. But a day came when, venturing to some height, the aviator
encountered a strong and gusty wind; whereupon one of his main-planes
broke, and he fell to his death.

As a contrast to this tragedy, and a welcome one, there is a humorous
story, that is true, told of one experimenter. His knowledge of
construction was small, but what he lacked in this respect he made up
for in confidence; and he built a monoplane. This was in the days just
after the cross-Channel flight, and experimenters all over the world
were building monoplanes, some of them machines of the weirdest
description. The craft built by this enthusiast seemed all right in
its appearance; nothing had been spared, for instance, in the way of
varnish. When wheeled into the sun, for its first rolling test under
power, it looked an imposing piece of work. Friends were in attendance,
photographers also; and the would-be aviator was in faultless flying
gear. Mounting a ladder, which had been placed beside the machine, he
allowed his weight to bear upon the fusilage, and proceeded to settle
himself in his seat. But he, and the onlookers, were startled as he
did so by an ominous cracking of wood. It grew louder; something
serious and very unexpected was happening to the machine. As a matter
of fact, and just as it stood there without having moved a yard, the
whole of the flimsy structure parted in the middle, and the machine
settled down ignominiously upon the ground, its back broken, and with
the discomfited inventor struggling in the _débris_.

It was far from easy, in the early days, for even an expert
constructor to calculate the strains encountered under various
conditions of flight. In wind pressure, under certain states of the
air, there are dangerous fluctuations--fluctuations which, even with
the knowledge we possess to-day, and this is far from meagre, exhibit
phenomena concerning which much more information is required. Machines
have collapsed suddenly, while flying on a day when the wind has been
uncertain, and have done so in a way which has suggested that they had
encountered, suddenly, a gust of an altogether abnormal strength.
Occasionally, though research work in this field is extremely
difficult, it has been possible to gain data as to the existence of
conditions, prevalent as a rule over a small area, which would spell
grave risk for any aeroplane which encountered them. There is a
strange case, verified beyond question, which occurred during some
tests with man-lifting kites at Farnborough. These kites are strongly
built, and withstand as a rule extremely high winds. On this
particular day a kite, when it had reached a certain altitude, was
seen to crumple up suddenly. The wind did not seem specially
strong--not at any rate on the ground; and there appeared no reason
for the breakage of the kite. Another was sent up; but the same thing
happened, and at the same altitude. Then the officer who was in charge
of the kites sent for a superior. A third kite was flown to see what
would happen. This one broke exactly as the others had done, and at
just the same height--about five hundred feet. Precise data could not
be gained as to this phenomenon; but the breaking of these
kites--which had withstood extremely high pressure in previous
tests--was reckoned to be due to the fact that, when they reached a
certain point in the air, they were subjected to the violent strain of
a sudden and complete change in the direction of the wind. To the
pilot of an aeroplane, entering without warning some such area of
danger, the result might naturally be serious in the extreme.

The air has been, and is still, an uncharted sea. It does not flow
with uniformity over the surface of the earth. It is a constantly
disturbed element, and one that has the disadvantage of being
invisible. An aviator cannot see the dangerous currents and eddies
into which he may be steering his craft; and so it was not surprising,
in those days when aircraft were frailer than they should have been,
and cross-country flights were first being made, that machines broke
often while in flight and that the airman's enemy, the wind, claimed
many victims.

Wind fluctuations that are dangerous, those which possess for one
reason or another an abnormal strength, are encountered frequently
when a pilot is fairly near the earth; and his peril is all the
greater in consequence. On a windy day, one on which there are heavy
gusts followed by comparative lulls, it is when he is close to the
ground, either in ascending or before alighting, that a pilot has most
to fear. If he is well aloft, with plenty of air space beneath him,
and particularly if he has a machine that is inherently stable, he has
little to fear from the wind; save, perhaps, should his engine fail
him, or should he find--as has been the case in war flying--that the
force of the wind, blowing heavily against him, and reducing the speed
of his machine, has prevented him from regaining his own lines before
his petrol has become exhausted. The modern aeroplane, when its
engine-power is ample, and it is at a suitable altitude, can wage
battle successfully even with a gale. But it must rise from the earth
when it begins a flight, and return to earth again when its journey is
done; and here, in the areas of wind that are disturbed by hills,
woods, and contours of the land, there are often grave dangers. The
wind at these low altitudes blows flukily. Its direction may be
affected, for instance, owing to the influence of a hill or ridge. A
side gust, blowing powerfully and unexpectedly against a machine, just
as it is nearing the ground before alighting, may cause it to tilt to
such an angle that it begins a side-slip. If the craft was
sufficiently high in the air, when this happened, the pilot would be
able, probably, to convert the side-slip into a dive, and the dive
into a renewal of his normal flight. But if such a side-slip begins
near the ground, and there is an insufficient amount of clear space
below the machine, it may strike the ground in its fall, and become a
wreck, before there is time for the pilot, or for the machine itself,
to exercise a righting influence. The fact that a craft may be forced
temporarily from its equilibrium, say by a side-slip, is known now to
represent no great risk for the airman, granted always that he has the
advantage of altitude. The machine, in such circumstances, falls a
certain distance. This is inevitable, and for the reason that it must
regain forward speed--which it has lost temporarily in its
side-slip--before its own inherent stability can become effective, or
its pilot regain influence over his controls. And it is this
unavoidable descent, this short period during which the machine is
recovering its momentum, and during which the pilot has no power of
control, that represents in a heavy wind the moments of peril, should
a pilot enter an area of disturbance just as he nears the ground.

An aeroplane, when it sets out to fly in bad weather, may be likened
to a boat that is being launched from a beach upon a rough and stormy
sea. It is the waves close inshore, which may raise his craft only to
dash it to destruction, that the boatman has chiefly to fear; and for
the aviator, when he leaves the land and embarks upon the aerial sea,
or when he returns again from this element and must make his contact
with the earth, there lurks a risk that, caught suddenly by an air
wave, and with insufficient space beneath his machine, he may be
forced into a damaging impact with the ground. But the skill of
designers and constructors, to say nothing of the growing experience
of aviators, is working constantly towards a greater safety.

Of the risk attached to engine failure, when he is piloting a craft
fitted with only one motor, an airman is reminded frequently, not only
from his own experience, but from that of other flyers. With the
aeroplane engine, even with types that have gained a high average of
reliability, there are many possibilities of a slight mishap--each of
them sufficient, for the moment, to put an engine out of action--that
the pilot who is flying across country must, all the time he is in the
air, have at the back of his mind the thought that at any moment, and
perhaps without any warning, he may find that his motive power has
gone. A magneto may fail temporarily; an ignition wire or a valve
spring break. The aeroplane engine of to-day is, of course, an
infinitely more reliable piece of apparatus than it was in those early
days when Henry Farman, working with extraordinary patience at
Issy-les-Moulineaux, was endeavouring--and for a long time without
success--to make the motor in his Voisin biplane run for five
consecutive minutes without breakdown. The war has shown us, and under
working conditions which have been exceptionally trying, how reliable
the aero-motor has become. But until duplicate plants have been
perfected, and more than one motor is fitted to aircraft as a matter
of course, there must always be this risk of failure.

In the mere stoppage of a motor no great danger is implied. The pilot
must descend; that is all. His power gone, he must glide earthward.
But where the risk does lie, in engine failure, is that it may occur
at a moment when the airman is in such a position, either above
dangerous country or while over the sea, that he cannot during his
glide reach a place of safety. A study of flying will show how awkward,
and how perilous on many occasions, has been the stoppage of a motor
while a machine is in the air. Two historic instances, though they did
not, fortunately, end in a loss of the pilot's life, were the
compulsory descents into the Channel made by the late Mr. Hubert
Latham, during his attempts, in 1909, to fly from Calais to Dover. In
both these cases--once when only a few miles from the French shore,
and on the second occasion when the aeroplane was quite near its
destination--the motor of the Antoinette monoplane failed suddenly,
and the aviator could do nothing but plane down into the water. On the
first occasion he alighted neatly, suffering no injury, and being
rescued by a torpedo boat; but in the second descent, striking the
water hard, he was thrown forward in his seat and his head injured by
a strut.

Less fortunate, in a case of presumed engine failure that will become
historic, was Mr. Gustave Hamel. Eager to reach Hendon, so as to take
part in the Aerial Derby on May 23rd, 1914, his great experience of
Channel flying induced him to risk the crossing with a motor which, on
his flight from Paris to the coast, had not been running well. His
monoplane was a fast machine, and the flight across Channel would have
taken him less than half an hour. But at some point during the
crossing, it seems obvious, his engine failed him, and he was unable
to prolong his glide either to gain the shore, or the vicinity of a
passing ship. His monoplane was never recovered; but the body of the
aviator--whose loss was mourned throughout the flying world and by the
general public as well--was discovered by some fishermen while
cruising off the French coast, and identified by means of a map,
clothing, and an inflated motor-cycle tyre; the last-named being
carried by the airman round his body to act as an improvised life-belt.

Engine failure, though a fruitful cause of minor accidents, and of the
breakage of machines, has led to few fatalities; and this has been due
very largely to the fact that, though machines have descended under
dangerous circumstances, and have been wrecked in a manner that would
appear almost certain to kill their occupants, the pilots and
passengers have, as a matter of fact, escaped often with no more than
a shock or bruises. An aeroplane does not strike the ground with the
impact of a hard, unyielding structure. It is essentially frail in its
construction; and this frailness, though it spells destruction for the
machine in a bad descent, provides at the same time an element of
safety for its crew. Take the case for instance of a machine falling
sideways, and striking the ground with one plane or planes. These
planes, built of nothing stronger as a rule than wood, crumple under
the impact. But in their collapse, which is telescopic and to a
certain extent gradual, a large part of the shock is absorbed. By the
time the fusilage which contains the pilot touches ground, the full
force of the impact is gone. And it is the same, often, if a machine
makes a bad landing, say on awkward ground, and strikes heavily
bow-first. Granted that the occupants of the machine are well-placed,
and prevented by retaining belts from being flung from the machine,
they should escape injury from the fact that there is so much to be
broken, in the way of landing-gear and other parts, before the shock
of the impact can reach them in their seats.

Had it not been for the capacity of the aeroplane to alight in awkward
places without injury to its pilot, many lives might have been lost
through descents in which motors have failed. Aviators have been
obliged to land in most unsuitable places: on the roofs of houses, for
instance, in small gardens, and frequently on the tops of trees. If he
finds his engine fail him when he is over a wood or forest, and there
is no chance save to descend upon the trees, a skilled pilot may save
himself as a rule from injury. Planing down, till he is just above the
tree-tops, he will then check suddenly, by a movement of his elevator,
the forward speed of his machine. The craft will come to a standstill
in the air; then, the support gone from its planes owing to the loss
of forward speed, it will sink down almost vertically, and with very
little violence, on to the tops of the trees. The machine itself will
naturally be damaged, seeing that boughs will pierce its wings in many
places, and that one or more of its planes may possibly collapse. But
the net result of such a landing--and this is the point which is
important for the pilot--is that the machine will be caught up and
suspended on the trees, making a comparatively light and gradual
contact, instead of there being any risk of its driving through the
trees and making a heavy impact with the ground.

Humour, sometimes, may be extracted from such a predicament as engine
failure, though it needs an aviator with a very deeply ingrained sense
of humour to do so. The story is told, however, of a pilot who, flying
across difficult country with a passenger, found that his motor
failed--as they often will--just at a moment when there seemed no
possible landing-point below. Looking over the side of his machine,
and glancing quickly here and there, the aviator saw no alternative
but to bring his craft down in an orchard that lay below. Pointing
downward, to acquaint his passenger with their unpleasant situation,
and to call his attention also to the orchard, the pilot said with a
smile:

  "I hope you're fond of apples!"

There is a risk in engine failure which has been emphasised more than
once; and it is that which may attend the pilot who, while prolonging
a glide in order to reach some landing-point, may be struck by a gust,
or enter some area of disturbed wind, just before he reaches the
ground and while his machine, moving slowly, is not in a position to
respond effectually to its controls. In one case an aviator,
struggling back towards the aerodrome with a motor which was not
giving its power, found that it stopped suddenly when he was not far
from a wood. Beyond the wood, which stood on a ridge, there was a
stretch of grassland. Endeavouring to reach this promised
landing-point, and holding his machine on a long glide, the airman
came across above the trees. He had almost reached his goal when his
machine entered a sudden down-current of wind--occasioned, no doubt,
by the proximity of the trees and ridge. Caught by this eddy, with no
motive power to help him and very little speed on his machine, the
pilot could not check its sudden dive; and the craft struck ground so
heavily that both he and his passenger were killed.

We have mentioned previously, as a fruitful cause of accident, that
structural weakness of machines which has led, when conditions have
been unfavourable, to a sudden collapse in the air. But apart from
weakness in construction, and notably in accidents with early-type
machines, there was the risk attached to mistakes in design, which
produced machines which were unstable under certain conditions--and
the dangers also which were due to inefficient controlling surfaces.
It was no uncommon thing, in pioneer days, for a machine to be built
which would not respond adequately to its elevator or rudder; though
this unpleasant fact might not be discovered by the pilot until he was
actually in flight, and perhaps at some distance from the earth. In
one case, which is authenticated, a two-seated monoplane of a new type
was tested at first in a series of straight flights, and found to be
promising in its behaviour. A skilled pilot then took charge of it,
and, carrying a passenger, proceeded to some more ambitious flights.
Steering the machine away across the aerodrome, and flying at a low
elevation, he approached a belt of woods. The machine was too near the
ground to pass over the tops of the trees; so the aviator decided to
make a turn, and fly parallel with the wood. But when he put his
rudder over, so as to bring the machine round in a half-circle, he
found to his dismay that there was no response. In the design of the
machine, as it was found afterwards, the rudder had been made too
small: it would not steer the machine at all. In the little space that
was left him, and to avoid crashing into the trees, the pilot had to
bring his craft to earth in such an abrupt dive that it was wrecked
completely. He and the passenger, though, escaped unhurt.

Carelessness has, fairly frequently, played its part in aeroplane
disasters. Sometimes a pilot has been careless, or perhaps in a hurry,
and has failed to locate some defect which, had it been seen and
attended to, would have saved a disaster when a machine was in flight.
Such inattention, which is sufficiently dangerous in the handling of
any piece of mechanism, is deadly in its peril when those who are
guilty of it navigate the air. A man who brings out a machine time
after time, and ascends without examining it carefully, is adding
vastly to the risks that may attend his flight; and the same remark
will apply to the carelessness of mechanics; though as a class, in
view of the arduous nature of their work, and of the long hours they
have frequently to be on duty, with no more than hasty intervals for
rest, their average of care and accuracy is very high. But there have
been cases--mostly in the past though--in which a machine has
developed a structural defect, or some defect say in its control gear,
which ought to have been observed by its mechanics, but which has not
been so detected, and has led to a catastrophe in flight. With
machines built lightly, and subjected to heavy strains when at high
speeds, it is vital that the inspection of such craft, that the
examination of every detail of them, should be carried out in a spirit
of the greatest care. The fraying through of a control wire, unnoticed
by those in charge of a machine, has been sufficient to cause a
disaster; while carelessness in overhauling a motor, a task of supreme
importance, seeing that its engine is the heart of an aeroplane, has
been another cause of accident. It is vital that, when an airman
ascends, both his machine and his motor should be in perfect working
trim. He himself, before he flies, and after his aeroplane has been
wheeled from its shed, should make it a habit to look over the machine,
so as to impose his own personal check upon the work his mechanics
have done.

Even when every care has been taken, and a machine ascends in perfect
trim, there is the human factor, represented by the pilot, which must
be considered always in a study of aeroplane accidents. There is often,
when a catastrophe seems imminent, a choice of things that may be
done. If an engine fails, for instance, under awkward circumstances,
the pilot may have, say, three courses open to him in regard to his
descent. Two may spell disaster and the third safety. It is here that
the innate judgment of a pilot, combined with his experience, will
tell its tale. But this personal element in flying, and particularly
in regard to an accident, is often a very difficult one for which to
make allowances.

The whole problem of aeroplane disasters is, to the analyst, one of
unusual complexity. Take for example the case of a pilot who is flying
alone in his machine, and at an altitude of several thousand feet.
Suddenly something happens; the machine is seen to fall and the pilot
is killed. Experts come to examine the aircraft, but it is wrecked so
completely that little which is reliable can be gathered from any
inspection; while the man who could explain what has happened--the
pilot of the machine--is dead. The statements of eyewitnesses, when
taken on such occasions, are often misleading. One person heard a
crash, and saw something fall away from the machine. Another declares
the engine stopped suddenly and that the machine "fell like a stone."
Another says he is sure he saw one of the wings fold upwards and the
machine swing and fall. And so on. It is extremely difficult, even for
a technical eye-witness, to be sure of what he sees when things happen
quickly and at a distance from him; while the statements of
non-technical people, who are not trained in observation, are
generally so unreliable as to be useless.

It has happened often therefore, far too often, in aeroplane
fatalities that have happened from time to time, that the cause of
such accidents has, even after the most careful investigation, had to
be written down a mystery. But in more than a few cases, though the
evidence has been far from conclusive, it has been considered that a
pilot has been guilty of some error of judgment. There were puzzling
instances, notably in the early days of flying, when airmen began
first to make cross-country flights, of engines being heard to fail
suddenly, and machines seen to fall to destruction. That engines
should break down was not surprising; they were doing so constantly;
but there was no reason why, even if they did fail, a machine should
fall helplessly instead of gliding. But what was thought to have
happened, in more than one of these cases, was that the pilot, through
an error of judgment, had failed to get down the bow of his machine
when his motor gave signs of stopping. The craft concerned were, it
should be mentioned, "pusher" biplanes; and the same rule applied to
them, in cases of engine failure, as has been explained in a previous
chapter, and as is emphasised nowadays in the instruction of the
novice. But in those days the beginner had frequently to learn, not
from wise tuition, but from bitter experience; and he was lucky, often,
if he learned his lesson and still retained his life. On certain
early-type biplanes, for instance, machines with large tail-planes,
and engined as a rule by a motor which was giving less than its proper
amount of power, it was most dangerous for a pilot if, on observing
any signs of failing in his engine, he sought to fly on in the hope
that the motor would "pick up" again, and continue its work. Directly
there was a tendency of the motor to miss-fire, or lessen in the
number of its revolutions per minute, the consequent reduction of the
propeller draught, as it acted on the tail of the machine, would cause
this tail to droop, and the machine to assume very quickly a dangerous
position. And when once it began to get tail-down, as pilots found to
their cost, there was nothing to be done. The machine lost what little
forward speed it had, and either fell tail-first, or slipped down
sideways. Such risks as these, which were very real, were rendered
worse owing to the fact that, in much of the cross country flying of
the early days, pilots flew too low. They lacked the confidence of
those who followed them, and were too prone to hug the earth, instead
of attaining altitude. It was not realised clearly then, as it is now,
that in height lies safety. And so when a machine lost headway through
engine failure, and was not put quickly enough into a glide, it
happened often that it had come in contact with the earth, and had
been wrecked, before there was any chance for the pilot to regain
control, or for the machine itself to exhaust its side-slip, and come
back to anything like a normal position.

But the failure of the human factor in flying, the lack of skill of a
pilot that may lead to disaster, is shown by statistics to play no
more than a small part, when accidents are studied in numbers and in
detail. Some time before the war, in an analysis of the accidents that
had befallen aviators in France--accidents concerning which there was
adequate data--it was shown that only 15 per cent. of them could be
attributed to a failure in judgment or skill on the part of the pilot.

Apart from errors, however, in what may be called legitimate piloting,
there have been regrettable accidents due to trick or fancy flying.
Putting a machine through a series of evolutions, to interest and
amuse spectators, is not of course in itself to be condemned. In such
flying, and notably for instance in "looping the loop," facts were
learnt concerning the navigation of the air, and as to the apparently
hopeless positions from which an aeroplane would extricate itself,
which were of very high value, from both a scientific and practical
standpoint. Public interest in aviation was increased also by such
displays; and it is very necessary that there should be public
interest in flying, seeing that it is the public which is asked to pay
for the development of our air-fleets. But the man who undertakes
exhibition flying needs not only to be a highly-skilled pilot, but a
man also of an exceptional temperament--a man whose familiarity with
the air never leads him into a contempt for its hidden dangers; a man
who will not, even though he is called on to repeat a feat time after
time, abate in any way the precautions which may be necessary for his
safety. In looping the loop, for instance, or in upside-down flying,
it is necessary always that the aeroplane should be at a certain
minimum height above the ground. Then, should anything unexpected
happen, and the pilot lose command temporarily over his machine, he
knows he has a certain distance which he may fall, before striking the
ground; and during this fall the natural stability of his machine,
aided by his own operation of the guiding surfaces, may bring it back
again within control. But if he has been tempted to fly too near the
ground, and has ignored for the moment this vital precaution, and if
something happens for which he is not prepared, then the impact may
come before he can do anything to save himself.

In the early days of flying, when aviators attempted an acrobatic feat,
they ran a far heavier risk than would be the case to-day; and for
the simple reason that their machines, not having a strength
sufficient to withstand any abnormal stresses, were likely to collapse
in the air if they were made to dive too rapidly, or placed suddenly
at any angle which threw a heavy strain on their planes. A machine for
exhibition flying needs to be constructed specially; but this was not
realised till accidents had taught their lesson.

It is a regrettable fact, one which emerges directly from a study of
aeroplane accidents, that many of them might have been avoided had men
been content to follow warily in the footsteps of the pioneers, and
not run heavy risks till they themselves, and the machines they
controlled, had been prepared, by a long period of steady flying, to
meet such greater dangers. The first men who flew realised fully the
risks they ran. But when flying became more general, and men found
machines ready to their hands, machines which it was a simple matter
to learn to fly, this early spirit of caution was forsaken, and feats
were attempted which brought fatalities in their train, and which
seemed to emphasise the risks of aviation, and did it the very bad
service that they fixed in the public mind a notion of its dangers,
and prevented men from coming forward to take up flying as a sport.



CHAPTER VIII

FACTORS THAT MAKE FOR SAFETY


It has been calculated that nearly half the aeroplane disasters of the
early days were due to a structural weakness in machines, or to
mistakes either in their design, or in such details as the position,
shape, and size of their surfaces. To-day, thanks to science, and to
the growing skill and experience of aeroplane designers and
constructors, this risk of the collapse of a machine in the air, or of
its failure to respond to its controls at some critical moment through
an error in design, has been to a large extent eliminated. That such
risks should be eliminated wholly is, as yet, too much to expect.

One of the factors making for safety has been the steady growth in the
general efficiency of aircraft: in the curve of their wings which, as
a result largely of scientific research, has been made to yield a
greater lift for a given surface and to offer a minimum of resistance
to their passage through the air; in the power and reliability of
their engines; in the efficiency of their propellers; and in the
shaping of the fusilage of a machine, and in the placing and
"stream-lining" of such parts as meet the air, so as to reduce the
head resistance which is encountered at high speeds. Such gains in
efficiency, which give constructors more latitude in the placing of
weight and strength where experience show they are needed, have gone
far to produce an airworthy machine. In the old days, when machines
were inefficient, a few revolutions more or less per minute in the
running of an engine meant all the difference between an ascent and
merely passing along the ground. But nowadays, through the all-round
increase in efficiency that has been obtained, a machine will still
fly upon its course without losing altitude, and respond to its
controls, even should the number of revolutions per minute of its
engine be reduced considerably.

When given a greater efficiency in lifting surfaces and
power-plants--and profiting also from the lessons that had been learnt
in the piloting of machines--constructors were able to devote their
attention, and to do so with certainty instead of in a haphazard way,
to the provision of factors of safety when a craft was in flight. With
a machine of any given type, if driven through the air at a certain
speed, it is possible to estimate with accuracy what the normal
strains will be to which it is subjected. But even if such data are
obtained, and the machine given the strength indicated, this factor of
safety is insufficient. It is not so much the normal strains, as those
which are abnormal, that must be guarded against in flight. A
high-speed machine, if piloted on a day when the air is turbulent, may
be subjected to extraordinarily heavy strains; rising many feet in the
air one moment, falling again the next, and being met suddenly by
vicious gusts of wind--in much the same way that a fast-moving ship,
when fighting its way through a rough sea, is beaten and buffeted by
the waves. Air waves have not of course the weight, when they deliver
a blow, that lies behind a mass of water; but that these wind-waves
attain sometimes an abnormal speed, and have a tremendous power of
destruction, is shown in the havoc that is caused by hurricanes.

It seems astonishing to many people that such a frail machine as the
aeroplane, with its outspread wings containing nothing stronger often
than wooden spars and ribs, covered by a cotton fabric, should be
capable of being driven through the air at such a speed, say, as 100
miles an hour, encountering not only the pressure of the air, but
resisting also the fluctuations to which it may be subjected. But,
underlying the lightness and apparent frailty of such a wing, when one
sees it in the workshop in its skeleton form, before it has been
clothed in fabric, there is a skill in construction, and an experience
in the choice, selection, and working of woods, that produces a
structure which, for all its fragile appearance, is amazingly strong.
And the same applies, nowadays, to all the other parts of an
aeroplane. That it should have taken years to gain such strength, and
to reduce so largely the risk of breakage, is not in itself
surprising. Men had to devise new methods in construction--always with
the knowledge that weight must be saved--and to create new factors of
safety, before they could build an airworthy craft.

To-day, when a man flies, he need have no lurking fear, as had the
pioneers, that his craft may break in the air. Even when it is driven
through a gale, plunging in the rushes of the wind, yet held straining
to its task by the power of its motor, the modern aeroplane can be
relied upon; and not in one detail of its construction, but in every
part. Experience, the researches of science, and the growing skill
with which aircraft are built, stand between the airman and many of
his previous dangers. The aeroplane to-day, one of the structural
triumphs of the world in its lightness and its strength, has a factor
of safety which is sufficient to meet, and to withstand, not merely
ordinary strains, but any such abnormal stresses as it may
encounter--and which may be many times greater than the strains of
normal flight.

The aviator knows also that his engine, as it gives him power to
combat successfully his treacherous enemy, the wind, represents the
fruit of many tests and of many failures, and of the spending of
hundreds of thousands of pounds. Many of its defects have revealed
themselves, and been rectified; it is no longer light where it should
have weight of metal, nor weak where it should be strong. So far as
any piece of mechanism can be made reliable, consisting as it does of
a large number of delicate parts, operating at high speed, the
aeroplane motor has been made reliable. But, so long as one motor is
used, there must always, as we have said, remain a risk of breakdown.
It is for this reason that, thanks largely to the stimulus of the
war--which has created a practical demand for such machines--aeroplanes
are now being built, and flown with success, which are fitted with
duplicate motors. With such machines, which give us a first insight as
to the aircraft of the future, engine failure begins to lose its
perils--particularly in regard to war. More than once during the great
campaign, when flying a single-engine machine, an aviator has found
his motor fail him, and has been obliged to land on hostile soil; with
the result that he has been made prisoner. But with dual-engine
machines it has been found that, when one motor has failed
mechanically, or has been put out of action by shrapnel, the remaining
unit has been sufficient--though the machine has flown naturally at a
reduced rate--to enable the pilot to regain his own lines.

In peace flying, too, as well as in war, the multiple-engined
aeroplane brings a new factor of safety. If one of his motors fails,
and he is over country which offers no suitable landing-place, the
pilot with a duplicate power-plant need not be concerned. His
remaining unit or units will carry him on. There are problems with
duplicate engines which remain to be solved--problems of a technical
nature--which involve general efficiency, transmission gear, and the
number and the placing of propellers; but already, though this new
stride in aviation is in its earliest infancy, results that are most
promising have been obtained.

To those who study aviation, and have done so constantly, say from the
year 1909, one of the most striking signs of progress lies in the fact
that, though unable at first to fly even in the lightest winds, the
aviator of to-day will fight successfully against a 60 miles-an-hour
wind, and will do battle if need be, once he is well aloft, with a
gale which has a velocity of 90 miles an hour. He will ascend indeed,
and fly, in any wind that permits him to take his machine from the
ground into the air, or which the motor of his craft will allow it to
make headway against. And here, though machines are still experimental,
there is removed at one stroke the earliest and the most positive
objection of those who criticised a man's power to fly. When the first
aeroplanes flew the sceptics said: "You have still to conquer the wind,
and that you will never do. Aeroplanes will be built to fly only in
favourable weather, and this will limit their use so greatly that they
will have no significance." But to-day the aviator has ceased, one
might almost say, to be checked or hampered by the wind. If the need
is urgent, as it often is in war, then it will be nothing less than a
gale that will keep a pilot to the ground, provided he has a
sufficiently powerful machine, and a suitable ground from which to
rise--and granted also that he has no long distance to fly.
Wind-flying resolves itself into a question of having ample
engine-power, of being able to launch a machine without accident, and
get it to earth again without mishap; and of being able to make a
reasonable headway against the wind when once aloft; and these
difficulties should solve themselves, as larger and heavier machines
are built.

Apart from the growing skill of the aviator, which has been bought
dearly, science can now give him a machine, when he is in a wind, that
needs no exhausting effort to hold it in flight. Craft are built, as a
matter of certainty and routine, which have an automatic stability.
Science has made it possible indeed, by a mere shaping and placing of
surfaces, and without the aid of mechanical devices, to give an
aeroplane such a natural and inherent stability that, when it is
assailed by wind gusts in flight, it will exercise itself an adequate
correcting influence. To understand what this means it should be
realised that, when such a machine is in flight say in war on a
strategical reconnaissance, and carries pilot and passenger, the
former can take it to a suitable altitude and then set and lock his
controls, and afterwards devote his time, in common with that of his
passenger, to the making of observations or the writing of notes. The
machine meanwhile flies itself, adapting itself automatically to all
the differences of wind pressure which, if it had not this natural
stability, would need a constant action of the pilot to overcome. All
he need do is to maintain it on its course by an occasional movement
of the rudder. With such a machine, even on a day when there is a
rough and gusty wind, it is possible for an airman to fly for hours
without fatigue; whereas with a machine which is not automatically
stable, and needs a ceaseless operation of its controls, the physical
exhaustion of a pilot, after hours of flight, is very severe.

So, already, one sees these factors of safety emerge and take their
place. There is no longer a grave peril of machines breaking in the
air; there need be no longer, with duplicate power-plants, the
constant risk of engine failing; while that implacable and treacherous
foe, the wind, is being robbed daily of its perils.



CHAPTER IX

A STUDY OF THE METHODS OF GREAT PILOTS


The masters of flying, and this is a fact the novice should ponder
well, have been conspicuous almost invariably for their prudence. No
matter how great has been their personal skill, they have never lost
their respect for the air; and this is why so many of the great flyers,
after running the heaviest of risks in their pioneer work, have
managed to escape with their lives. What patience and sound judgment
can accomplish, when pitted even against such dangers as must be faced
by an experimenter when he seeks to fly, is shown by an incident from
the early career of the Wright brothers. With one of their gliders, a
necessarily frail machine, and in tests made when they were both
complete novices, they managed to make nearly 1000 glides; and not
once in all those flights, during which they were learning the
rudiments of balance and control, did they have a mishap which damaged
at all seriously their machine.

These two brothers, Wilbur and Orville, offer to the student of flying,
apart from the historical interest which is attached to their work, a
temperamental study of the greatest interest. Wilbur, who was grave,
judicial--a man of infinite patience and with an exceptional power of
lucid thinking--found in his brother and co-worker, Orville, a
disposition just such as was necessary to strengthen and support him
in his great research; a disposition more vivacious and more
enthusiastic than his, and one which acted as a balance to his own
gravity. The method of these brothers in first attacking a mass of
data, most of it contradictory--and a large amount of it of little
intrinsic value--and then framing their own research on lines which
they discussed and studied with methodical care, forms a model of
sound judgment for workers in any complex field. Their kite
experiments, their gliders, their refusal to hasten their steps unduly
in the fitting of an engine to their machine, reveal again their
discretion, and that judgment which never failed them. Perseveringly
and unswervingly, exhibiting doggedness without obstinacy, and with
their work illuminated always by the highest intelligence, they moved
surely from stage to stage; and at last, when they fitted a motor to
their machine, such was their knowledge of the air, and of the control
of their craft when in flight, that they were able to make this
crucial step, from a glider to a machine driven by power, without any
breakage of their apparatus or injury to themselves.

The same self-control marked them when, having demonstrated that men
can ascend in a power-driven machine, and steer such a craft at will,
they dismantled their apparatus and commenced their negotiations with
foreign Governments. Wilbur Wright, too, when he came to France to
give his first public demonstrations, provided by his methods a model
for aviators, either present or future. He resisted all temptations to
make injudicious flights. If he considered the weather conditions at
all unsuitable he said that he would not ascend, no matter who might
have come to see him fly, and that settled the question once and for
all. He was deaf to all pleadings, to all proffered advice. When
conditions were perfectly suitable, and then only, would he have his
craft brought from its shed.

The same meticulous care, in every flight he made, marked his
preparation of his machine. Motor, controls, propeller-gearing, every
vital part, received its due attention; and this attention was never
relaxed, no matter how frequently he flew, nor how great was his
success. An observer of one of his early flights at Le Mans has given
us an impression that is typical of this unremitting care. There was a
question of some small adjustment that Wilbur had instructed should be
made to the machine. When the time came to fly, and he was in the
driving-seat waiting for the motor to be started, he called a question
as to whether this detail had been attended to. He was assured it had.
But this was not enough for Wilbur Wright. Climbing from his seat and
walking round the biplane, he made a careful examination for himself,
and then returned quietly to the front of the machine. People who came
to see him fly, and expected some picturesque hero, leaping lightly
into his machine and sweeping through the air, found that reality
disappointed them. This quiet, unassuming man, who slept in his shed
near his aeroplane, and took his meals there also, refused to be fêted
or made a fuss of; while his deliberation in regard to every flight,
and his indifference to the wishes or convenience of those who were
watching him, drove nearly frantic some of those influential people
who, coming in motor-cars and with a patronising spirit, thought the
aviator might be treated rather as a superior mountebank, who would be
only too glad to come out and fly when a distinguished guest arrived.

M. Louis Bleriot, whose name was next to become world-famous, after
that of the Wrights, and who owed his distinction to his crossing of
the English Channel by air, revealed in his character determination
and courage, and imagination as well. And yet allied to these
qualities--and here lay his temperamental strength--he had a spirit of
quiet calculation and an eery considerable shrewdness. He knew, and was
not afraid of showing that he knew, the full value of caution. And yet
on occasion also--as in the cross-Channel flight--he was ready to put
everything to the test, and to take promptly and with full knowledge
the heaviest of risks. The motor in his cross-Channel monoplane was an
experimental one of low power, air-cooled, and prone to over-heat and
lose power after only a short period of running. To cross the Channel,
even under the most favourable circumstances, he knew this engine must
run without breakdown for thirty-five or forty minutes. This it had
not done--at any rate in the air--before. There was a strong
probability--and Bleriot knew this better than anyone else--that the
motor would fail before he reached the English shore, and that he
would have to glide down into the sea. It was arranged that a
torpedo-boat-destroyer should follow him, and this afforded an element
of safety. But Bleriot guessed--as was actually the case--that he
would outdistance this vessel in his flight, and soon be lost to the
view of those upon it. And he did not deceive himself as to what might
happen, if his engine stopped and he fell into the water. His
monoplane, as it lay on the surface of the water, would, he knew,
prove a very difficult object to locate by any vessel searching for it;
while it was so frail that it would not withstand for long the
buffeting of the waves. He carried an air-bag fixed inside the
fusilage, it is true; but, in spite of this precaution, Bleriot knew
he ran a very grave peril of being drowned. There was, on the morning
of his flight, another disturbing factor to be reckoned with. The wind,
calm enough when he first determined to start, began very quickly to
rise; and by the time he had motored from Calais to the spot where his
aeroplane lay, and the machine itself was ready for flight, the wind
out to sea was so strong that the waves had become white-capped. But
Bleriot, aware of the value at such moments of decision, had made up
his mind. He knew that, if his engine only served him, his flight
would be quickly made. And so he reckoned that, even though the wind
was rising, he would be able to complete his journey before it had
become high enough seriously to inconvenience him; and in this
calculation, as events proved, he was right. His motor did its work;
and, though the wind tossed his machine dangerously when he came near
the cliffs of the English coast, he succeeded in making a landing and
in winning the £1000 prize.

M. Hubert Latham, Bleriot's competitor in the cross-Channel flight,
had that peculiar outlook on life, with its blend of positive and
negative--puzzling often to its owner as well as to the onlooker--that
is called, for the sake of calling it something, the artistic
temperament. He was impulsive, yet impassive often to a disconcerting
extent: extremely sensitive and reserved as a rule, yet on occasion
almost boyishly frank and communicative. He lacked entirely ordinary
shrewdness, or everyday commonsense. He was a man of a deeply romantic
temperament, and this inclined him towards aviation and the conquest
of the air; while in actual piloting he had such a quickness and
delicacy of touch, and such a sure and instinctive judgment of
distance and of speed, that he was undoubtedly a born aviator--one of,
if not the, finest the world has seen. That he did not attain greater
success, from a practical point of view, was due to the fact that he
was without the level-headedness and the business ability which
characterised others of the pioneers. When he was in flight in his
Antoinette--Latham flew that machine and no other--he was a supreme
artist. His machine was beautiful, and his handling of it was
beautiful.

M. Henri Farman, beyond question, of course, another of the great
pioneers, is a man of imagination and of a highly nervous temperament,
yet possessing at the same time a very pronounced vein of caution. No
success has for an instant caused him to lose his head. At Rheims, in
1909, when he had created a world's record by flying for more than
three hours without alighting, those who hastened to congratulate him,
after his descent, found him absolutely normal and unmoved. Washing
his hands at a little basin in the corner of the shed, he discussed
very quietly and yet interestedly, and entirely without any
affectation of nonchalance, the details of his flight and the
behaviour of his motor. His attitude was that the flight was something,
yet not a great deal, and that very much more remained to be done; a
perfectly right and proper attitude, one which was just as it should
be, yet one encountered very rarely under such circumstances--human
nature being what it is.

Farman's patience, his perseverance, were in the very early days what
gave him his first success. With the biplane the Voisins built him,
for example, nothing but his own determination, and his ceaseless work
upon his engine, enabled him to do more with this type of machine than
others had done.

As the aeroplane increased in efficiency, and in the reliability of
its engine, and was used in cross-country journeys, there came an era
of flying contests, in which large prizes were offered, and in which
airmen passed between cities and across frontiers, and traversed in
their voyages the greater part of Europe. In the making of these
flights, which needed an exceptional determination and skill, allied
also to a perfect bodily fitness, there came into prominence certain
aviators whose precision in their daily flights, passing across
country with the speed and regularity of express trains, won
admiration throughout the world. Prominent among these champions was
the French naval officer, Lieut. J. Conneau, who adopted in his
contests the flying name of "Beaumont." His success and his exactitude,
when piloting a Bleriot monoplane for long distances above unknown
country, guiding himself by map and compass, gave the public an
indication, for the first time, of what might be accomplished by an
expert airman when flying a reliable machine. Lieut. Conneau's success,
winning as he did several of the great contests one after another,
and the absence of error in his flying from stage to stage, and his
accurate landings upon strange and often badly-surfaced aerodromes,
should provide for the novice in aviation--when the secret of this
success is understood--an object-lesson that is of value.

This quiet, efficient airman, and his methods in making himself so
competent, afford indeed an interesting study. Here was one who,
suited already by temperament for the tasks he undertook, trained
himself with such care, with such patience, that he attained as nearly
to the ideal as is possible for living man. When he had asked for, and
obtained, permission from the Minister of Marine to study aviation in
all its aspects, he began his task in a spirit that was admirable. "I
was convinced," he wrote afterwards, "that a perfect knowledge of
machines and motors was necessary before one could use them." For
nearly a year, on leaving the sea, he worked to obtain a certificate
as a practical engineer. This gained, he went through a period of
motor-cycling and motor-car driving, varied by flights in captive
balloons and free balloons, and afterwards in airships. Following this
he obtained leave to stay for a time at Argenteuil, and enter the
works of the builders of the Gnome motor. Here he lived the life of a
mechanic, and learned to understand completely the operation of this
famous engine, which he was destined to drive afterwards in his great
flights.

Presently he went to Pau, in order to obtain his certificate as an
aeroplane pilot. At first, taking his turn with a number of other
pupils, he could only get a few minutes at a time in a machine. But
being a keen observer he found that, by listening to the instructors,
and watching the flights made, he could pick up useful information
without being in the air; and this led him to the observation that "to
learn to fly quickly, one must begin by staying on the ground."

He secured in due course his certificate of proficiency, astonishing
the instructors by his skill and sureness in the handling of his
machine. Then followed what might be called an apprenticeship to
cross-country flying. He made constant flights in all weathers, flying
for instance from Pau to Paris, and studying closely not only the
piloting of his machine and the aerial conditions he encountered, but
also the art of using a map and compass, and in finding a path without
deviation from point to point. Improving daily in confidence and skill,
and learning practically all there was to be learned as to the
handling of a Gnome-engined Bleriot, he was able soon to fly under
weather conditions which would have seemed hopeless to a pilot of less
experience; while engine failure and other troubles, which overtook
him frequently on these long flights, taught him to alight without
damaging his machine on the most unpromising ground.

Now, feeling himself at last competent, he obtained permission to
figure on the retired list, so that he might take part in the aviation
races which were then being organised. Of these great contests Lieut.
Conneau won three in succession--the Paris-Rome Race, in which he flew
928 miles in 21 hours 10 minutes; the European Circuit, in which he
flew 1,060 miles in a total flying time of 24 hours 18 minutes; and
the Circuit of Britain, in which he flew 1,006 miles in 22 hours 26
minutes. Lieut. Conneau's success, which appeared extraordinary, and
his skill in finding his way across country, which seemed abnormal,
were due as a matter of fact to his assiduous preparation, and to a
temperament which, even under the heavy strains of constant flying,
saved him from errors of judgment or ill-advised decisions. His
temperament was, indeed, ideal for a racing airman. He was quiet and
collected, with a natural tendency to resist excitement or confusion.
His physique was admirable, and he had that elasticity of strength,
both in body and nerve, which are invaluable to a pilot when on long
flights. Also, and this was of importance, Lieut. Conneau had a
natural cheerfulness of disposition which carried him without
irritation or despondency through those ordeals of weather, and of
mechanical breakdowns and delays, which are inseparable from such
contests as those in which he was engaged.

A contrast to Lieut. Conneau, both in temperament and method, was his
rival Jules Vedrines--the aviator who, notably in the Circuit of
Britain, flew doggedly against Lieut. Conneau from stage to stage.
Vedrines, who had not had the advantages in tuition that had been
enjoyed by Lieut. Conneau, nor his grounding in technique, was
nevertheless a born aviator; a man of a natural and exceptional skill.
In energy, courage, and determination he was unexcelled; but such
qualities, though of extreme value in a long and trying contest, were
marred by an impetuosity and an excitability which Vedrines could not
master, and which more than once cost him dear. He had not, besides,
as was shown in the Circuit of Britain, that skill in steering by map
and compass which aided Lieut. Conneau so greatly in all his flying.

A personality of unusual interest was that of the late Mr. S. F.
Cody--a man of a great though untutored imagination, and of an
extraordinary and ceaseless energy. A big man, and one whom it might
be thought would have been clumsy in the handling of an aeroplane, he
piloted the biplanes of his own construction with a remarkable skill.
He flew no other, of course, and this was greatly to his advantage in
actual manipulation. The great pilots who have excelled--one may
instance again Lieut. Conneau--have concentrated their attention as a
rule on one type of machine, learning all there is to be learned about
this particular craft, and being prepared in consequence, through
their knowledge both of its capacities and weaknesses, for any
contingency that may arise in flight. Another instance of such
specialisation was provided by Mr. Gustave Hamel. M. Bleriot--an
admirable judge in this respect--singled out Mr. Hamel, while this
young man was learning to fly in France, as an aviator of quite
unusual promise; and his prediction was, of course, more than
fulfilled. Devoting himself exclusively to the monoplane, Mr. Hamel
became a pilot whose perfection of control, very wonderful to witness,
was marked strongly by his own individuality. He had beautiful
"hands"--a precision and delicacy on the controls which marked his
flying from that of all others; while his judgment of speed and
distance, which was remarkable, represented natural abilities which
had been improved and strengthened by his constant flying.



CHAPTER X

CROSS-COUNTRY FLYING


When a pupil has finished his flying school tests, and has received
his certificate from the Royal Aero Club, he is in a stage of
proficiency which means that he has learned to control an aeroplane
when above an aerodrome and in conditions that are favourable, and
that he may be relied on to make no elementary mistakes. But as to
cross-country flying, with its greater hazards, he is still a novice,
with everything to learn. And so it is to flights from point to point,
generally between neighbouring aerodromes, that he next devotes
himself.

Aviators have been commiserated with, often, on what is thought to be
the monotony of a cross-country flight. The pilot, raised to a lonely
height above the earth, is pictured sitting more or less inertly in
his seat, with nothing to do but retain his control on the levers, and
look out occasionally so as to keep upon his course. But the beginner,
when he first attempts cross-country flying, will have an impression
not of inactivity, but of the necessity to be constantly on the alert.
He will be engrossed completely by the manipulation of his machine,
with no time to sit in idle speculation, or to analyse his feelings as
the country passes away below.

When preliminaries on the ground have been gone through, and the pilot
is in the air, there will first be a need to gain a height of several
thousand feet. Altitude is essential in cross-country flying. The
higher a pilot flies, within reason and having regard to the state of
the atmosphere, the better chance will he have of making a safe
landing, should his motor fail suddenly and force him to descend. So
the first concern is climbing--and in doing so the pilot must remember
the teachings of his instructor, and not force his craft on too steep
or rapid an ascent. He may prefer, in his early flights, to remain
above the aerodrome while he is gaining altitude, watching his height
recorder from moment to moment so as to note his progress upward. He
will be occupied also with his engine, listening to its rhythm of
sound, and keeping an eye on the indicator that tells him how many
revolutions per minute the motor is actually making, and which will
warn him at once should it begin to fail.

Granted his motor is running well, a pilot should soon gain altitude.
Then, assuming the air is clear--as it should be on his early
flights--he will note some landmark, away on the line of his flight,
and set off across country towards it. Fixed conveniently in front of
him will be a map, of a kind devised specially for the use of
aviators. A pilot's view, as he flies high above the ground, is
bird-like. Landmarks fail to attract his attention, at this altitude,
which would be clearly seen if he were on the ground. Hills, for
example, unless they are high, are so dwarfed as he looks down on them
that they scarcely catch his eye. What is done, by the designer of air
maps, is to accentuate such details of a landscape as will prove
conspicuous when seen from above. A river, or an expanse of water, is
clearly seen; so also are railways and main roads; while factory
chimneys, and large buildings which stand alone, may be identified
from a distance when a pilot is in flight. So on an airman's map, made
to stand out by various colourings in a way that catches the eye, are
railways, roads, rivers, lakes and woods, with here and there a
factory chimney or a church, should these be in a position rendering
them visible easily from the air. That such maps should be bold in
their design, and free from a mass of small details, is very necessary
when it is remembered that the aviator, passing through the air at
high speeds, has no time for a leisurely inspection of his map.

With a good map, and aided when necessary by the compass that is
placed in a position so that he can see it readily, a pilot has no
difficulty as a rule, once he has acquired the facility that comes
with practice, in steering accurately from point to point, even when
on a long flight. On a favourable day, when the land below is clearly
visible, he will glance ahead, or to one side, and after observing
some landmark, look on his map to identify the position he has just
seen. Under such conditions steering is easy, and the compass plays a
subsidiary part. But it may happen that, while he is on a long flight
and at a considerable altitude, the earth below may be obscured by
clouds, or a low-lying mist, and all landmarks vanish from his view.
Sometimes too, he may find himself flying through mist and cloud, with
all signs of the earth gone from below. Whereupon, robbed for awhile
of any direct guidance, he must fly by aid of his map and compass,
holding his machine on its compass course, and noting carefully the
needle of his height-recorder, so that he is sure of maintaining
altitude. A risk exists under such conditions, when there is no
visible object by which to judge a course, that an airman may make
leeway, unconsciously, under the pressure of a side-wind; and so he
must be ready to note carefully, immediately that a view of the earth
is vouchsafed him, whether he has actually been making leeway, either
to one hand or the other, even while the bow of his machine has been
held on its compass course. There is a risk also, when a pilot is
flying in fog or at night, that, having no visible horizon from which
to gauge the inclination of his craft, it may assume gradually some
abnormal angle, without his own sensations telling him what is taking
place. The craft may, for the sake of illustration, incline sideways,
imperceptibly to the pilot, till it begins to side-slip. But science
can meet this danger by providing inclinometers, fitted within the
hull so that the aviator can see them easily; and by means of these
instruments, which are illuminated at night, it is possible for a
pilot to tell, merely by a glance, at what angle his machine is moving
forward through the air--whether it is up or down at the bow, or
whether its position laterally is normal.

The beginner, on his first cross-country flight, need not be troubled
by such intricacies. He is flying, one assumes, on a fine day, with
the land spread clearly below him. So as he moves through the air,
listening always to the hum of his motor, he need have no fear,
granted that his observation is ordinarily keen, of losing his way.

Naturally, being a novice, he will feel the responsibility of his
position. His eyes will rove constantly from one instrument to another;
as indeed, from habit, do those of a practised flyer. He will glance
at the height recorder; then at the engine revolution indicator; then
at the dial which tells him what his speed is relative to the air.
There is a dial, also, showing the pressure in his petrol-tank; while
there will be a clock on his dashboard at which he will glance
occasionally, after he has marked some position away on the land below,
so as to determine what progress he is making from the point of view
of time.

Besides these preoccupations, and the ceaseless even if almost
unconscious attention that he must pay to his engine, there is the
need to bear constantly in his mind's eye the lie of the land. Should
his motor fail suddenly, or something happen which necessitates an
immediate descent, it is imperative that he should be able, without
delay, to choose from the ground that is visible below him some field
or open space that will provide a safe landing-point. And this is
easier said than done. The earth, when viewed by a airman who looks
down almost directly upon it, is apt to be deceptive as to its
contour. A field that is selected say, from a height of several
thousand feet, may not prove--as the aviator nears it in his glide--to
be at all the haven he imagined it. More than once, seeking to alight
on a field which appeared to him, as he was high above it, to be level
as a billiard table, a pilot has found, when it is too late, that the
ground has sloped so steeply that his machine, after landing, has run
on downhill and ended by crashing into a fence or ditch.

It is very necessary for an airman to learn to judge, by its
appearance, the difference between an expanse, say, of pasture land,
or a field which is in green corn or standing hay. It has happened
often that a pilot, descending after engine failure towards what he
has reckoned a grass field, has discovered--when too low to change his
landing-point--that his pasture land is actually a field of green corn;
and a landing under such conditions, with the corn binding on the
running-gear of the machine, may end in the aircraft coming to an
abrupt halt, and then pitching forward on its nose; with a broken
propeller and perhaps other damages in consequence.

In choosing a landing ground, as in other problems that face the
novice in cross-country flying, experience will prove his safeguard.
He will learn for instance that cattle or sheep, if they can be
discerned below in a field, go to show that this field is one of
pasture and not of crops. If no cattle are to be seen in a field, and
the aviator is doubtful about it, and yet if it happens to be the only
suitable one he can locate, then he may look closely at the gateway
which leads into the field. If, in this gateway, he can detect such
scars or markings on the ground as are caused by the feet of cattle as
they walk daily in and out, he may feel satisfied the field is one of
pasture.

When cattle or sheep are seen standing in a field so that they face in
the same direction, this may suggest either the existence of a slope,
or the presence of a strong ground wind; while a stream or brook at
the edge of a stretch of open land, or a belt of woods, may suggest a
sloping of the ground.

It is amusing for a pilot--or it was so, rather, in the days when few
aeroplanes were in existence--to note the astonishment which his
descent, made quite unexpectedly perhaps in some quiet and rural
country, will occasion amongst the inhabitants. Sometimes, under the
stress of such an excitement, people appear to lose for the time being
their power of coherent speech. A pilot in a cross-country contest,
not being sure whether he was on his right course, decided to make a
landing and ask his way. He noticed, after a while, the figure of a
man in a field below. Planing down, and alighting in the field, he
shouted questions to this man, switching his engine off and on, while
he did so, in order that his words, and those of the other, might be
audible. But the man in the field, demoralised by the advent of this
being from the air, and gazing at him and his machine with an
expression of blank amazement, was unequal to the task of giving even
the simplest directions. He waved his arms, it is true, but no words
that could be understood issued from his lips. The pilot repeated his
questions, but it was no good. The man waved and mouthed, and rolled
his eyes, but when he tried to speak intelligibly he could not. So the
aviator, loath to waste further time, accelerated his engine again and
continued his flight.

As a contrast to this, there was the experience of a pilot who, after
a long flight from England to the Continent, landed at length near a
small village. In the next field to that in which he alighted there
was a labourer, digging patiently. The aviator expected that this man
would fling down his spade in excitement, and run wildly towards the
aeroplane. But such was not the case. This labourer, a marvel of
placidity and unconcern, merely raised his head slowly and looked
across at the aircraft, and then went on with his digging.

In his first cross-country flights, being concerned chiefly as to the
manipulation of his machine, and having so many things to think of,
the novice may feel tired after even a short journey by air. His chief
sensation, as he switches off his engine to descend towards the
aerodrome he sees below him, will be one of relief that he has escaped
engine failure, and that he has been able to find his way from point
to point. The joy of flight, of passing swiftly thousands of feet
above the earth, will have made but a small impression upon him--at
any rate consciously. It will not be until the handling of his machine
becomes less laborious, and he has time to accustom himself to his
unique view-point, and the strangeness and beauty of the scene below
him, that the novice will realise some of the fascinations of aerial
travel; fascinations that it is difficult to describe. The sensation
of having thrown off the bonds of earth-bound folk; of soaring above
the noise and dust of highways; of being free from the obstructions of
traffic; of sweeping forward smoothly, swiftly, and serenely--the land
stretching below in an ever-changing panorama, with the drone of the
motor in one's ears, and a wine-like exhilaration in the rush of the
air: these, and others more obscure, are among the sensations of
cross-country flying.



CHAPTER XI

AVIATION AS A PROFESSION


Young men, and parents on their behalf, are seeking always some
profession which will yield an adequate return for the enthusiasm
which youth lavishes upon it. Too often, though, at any rate in the
past, this search for a man's work in life has been narrowed into ruts;
conducted on certain set lines which, though they have found
employment for the beginner, have given him no scope for that
enthusiasm with which he will attack the first tasks presented him.
Aviation, till the coming of the war, was looked at askance by parents
who had sons on their hands. Apart from the risks of flying, which
appeared to them ceaseless and terrible, the actual industry of
building aeroplanes, regarded as an industry, seemed so haphazard and
objectless an affair--so much like playing at work--that they
discouraged any wish that a youth might show to enter it. Many people,
these people of intelligence, regarded the building and flying of
aeroplanes as being no more than a passing phase, and a regrettable
one, which it was hoped men would soon abandon, and turn their
attention to tasks more serious and profitable. But that was before
aircraft had proved their value as instruments of war. Now it is known
that aeroplanes have the power, granted they are supplied in
sufficient numbers, of altering the tenor of a great campaign, both by
land and sea; and that in any future war of nations, should one come,
a battle between the hostile flying fleets, fought to determine the
command of the air, will determine also, to a very large extent, the
fortunes of armies on the land and navies on the sea. It is clear
indeed that, for any great nation that strives to maintain its place,
a powerful air fleet has become a necessity; while for Britain, an
island no longer from the military point of view, seeing that we must
face seriously the question of invasions by air, there is a vital need
to strive for command of the air, as we now hold command of the sea.

The building up of our air fleet will be an arduous task, needing men,
money, and time; but without it we cannot be secure. Therefore the
work must be faced, the men and the money forthcoming. Aviation, as an
industry, must prepare for years of strenuous work. A great air
service must be created. Machines must be designed and built in
thousands instead of hundreds, and men trained to fly them. Nor is
this all. The aeroplane, though it has such significance as a weapon
of war, is destined primarily and eventually to be an instrument of
peace; a machine for the transport by air of passengers, mails, and
goods, at speeds greater than will be feasible by land or water; and a
craft also for the use of travellers and tourists, enabling them to
make such journeys, with ease and pleasure, as will again prove
impossible by land or sea. So aviation has two immense tasks ahead of
it, instead of one. Not only must it create, by years of patient and
determined effort, a flying service which will command the air, but
craft must be designed and built also for the mail, goods, and
passenger-carrying services, and to meet the needs of the aerial
tourist.

This new task that has been given to men, that of designing, building,
and piloting aircraft, is still on the eve of its expansion. The
opportunities it offers to young men--to men whose minds are quick to
grasp a new idea and who have the powers of initiative and
decision--are almost boundless. Flying will, as it develops,
revolutionise the world's system of transport; while the developments
even of the immediate future promise to be so great, and so important,
that it is not easy to visualise them. But this at least is clear: now
is the time for newcomers to enter the world of flight. Aviation needs
men, is calling aloud for men; and they are needed for many kinds of
work. First, of course, should be placed the flying services, naval
and military, to join which during the war men have come forward so
admirably. But it will need, in the expansion that must follow this
campaign, a steady and a ceaseless growth in numbers, not only of the
men who handle machines in flight, but of those who serve the
squadrons by their work on land, and who build up the organisation
which is vital to success.

For skilled aviators, other than those who join the services, there is
scope for remunerative work. A constant demand exists for men who will
test and fly in their trials the new machines that are built by
manufacturers; for men who will fly, in public exhibitions, the craft
that are used at the various aerodromes; and for men who will qualify
as instructors, and join the flying schools which are already in
existence, or in process of formation. In countries oversea, too,
there is the definite promise that aircraft will be needed, not only
for survey work over wide tracts of land, and for maintaining
communication and bearing mails over districts where land travel is
difficult, but also for exploration; and this again means that pilots
will be required. New aerodromes must come into existence also; not
only to act as alighting points for touring craft, but to provide
grounds for the training of pupils; and at these aerodromes pilots
will be needed.

Of other opportunities, apart from the piloting of aircraft, there are
many--though it is desirable for a man to learn to fly, and obtain his
certificate of proficiency, even if afterwards he does not intend
continuing as a pilot. The practical experience he gains, while
learning actually to handle an aircraft in flight, will prove
extremely useful to him subsequently, even though the task he
undertakes is one that keeps him on the ground. He may qualify, for
instance, for a post in a aeroplane factory as a designer or
draughtsman; or he may specialise in aero-motors, and seek a post in
the engine-shops. At the aerodromes, too, there are openings which
present themselves; as, for example, in the management of a flying
school.

It has been shown that the public will go in thousands to see sporting
contests with aeroplanes, and here is another field for organisation
and effort; while there is a constant demand for men of ability in the
executive departments of firms which are established already in the
industry, and are expanding steadily, or in those which are now being
formed, or are joining aviation from day to day.

The industry is at last on a footing that is practical and sound. It
presents a new field for effort, and one that is unexploited; while
for the man who enters it--and this should be the attraction for
youth--there are occupations as fascinating as one's imagination could
depict. But one thing must be understood clearly. Flying is, of exact
sciences, surely the most exact. The man who is only half-trained, who
is more or less slovenly in his work, who will not bend his whole
energies to his task, will find no place in this new industry. A young
man is wasting his time, if, after deciding to enter aviation, he
acquires knowledge that is no more than haphazard. He who contemplates
aviation as a profession must set himself the task of learning all
there is to be learned, and in the right way.

Individual opportunities and circumstances will, necessarily, play so
large a part in the steps taken by a young man--or by his parents on
his behalf--to launch him on a career in aviation that it is
impossible, here, to do more than generalise. Certainly, as we have
said, it is an excellent preliminary to learn to fly; and it may be
stated also that it is now possible to place, with aviation companies
of repute, premium pupils who will undergo instruction extending over
a period of three years. A youth may, also, gain his knowledge of the
industry by becoming an indentured apprentice.

One may say, as a conclusion to this chapter, that a great, new, and
potential industry is springing up in our midst, one which will prove
to be equally if not more important and far-reaching than the British
shipbuilding industry, and one which will employ thousands of skilled
engineers and artisans. Ships are limited to one element, the water,
which has very definite boundaries. Aircraft, too, are limited to one
element, the air; but this element has no boundaries so far as the
earth is concerned, and aircraft will be navigable to any and every
part of the globe.



CHAPTER XII

THE FUTURE OF FLIGHT


It is a hopeful augury, to those concerned with aviation, that public
interest in flying should not only be keen, but should be growing. In
the early days, even when aeroplanes were so great a novelty, it was
difficult to induce people in any numbers to witness a flying display.
The first meetings, though they were organised with enthusiasm, ended
as a rule with a heavy financial loss; and this fact of course, when
it became known, had a discouraging influence on those who might, had
these early meetings proved a success, have been willing to finance
aerodromes and the building of machines. But as it was, business men,
who are quick to form conclusions, said that people would never be
induced to pay to see aeroplanes fly. But here they failed to reckon
with the fact that, though public interest in flying has been of very
slow growth, yet at the same time it has been a steady and continuous
growth. From month to month, and from year to year, as aeroplane
constructors and pilots have continued at their tasks, overcoming
technical difficulties and personal risks, the interest of ordinary
people has grown perceptibly. Even before the war--which has done so
much to focus attention on flying--the attitude of scepticism and
apathy had been greatly changed. When the London Aerodrome at Hendon
was established, there were shrewd men in the city, men who are
ordinarily very sound in their conclusions, who declared the public
would never go there in appreciable numbers. How wrong they were, how
little they gauged the change that was taking place in the public mind,
is shown by the fact that, on a popular day at this aerodrome, as
many as 60,000 people have paid for admission.

In the immediate future, as in the immediate past, aviation will be
concerned largely with the building of naval and military craft. This
will, so to say, be the foundation of its development in other
directions. War for instance, notably in the fitting of craft with
duplicate power-plants, will provide data that is invaluable in the
building of commercial craft, and in machines also for the use of the
tourist. In aerial touring there lies an important field for the
development of aircraft--one which may serve to bridge the gap between
a relatively small, purely pleasure-type machine, and a craft which
has utility in the fields of commerce. The motor-car provides an
enjoyable means of travelling from place to place; but in the
aeroplane, once it is airworthy, reliable, and comfortable, the
tourist has a vehicle which is distinctly more pleasurable and
exhilarating. The day was dawning before the war, and will now be
hastened, when, garaging his aircraft at the London Aerodrome as a
convenient starting-point, an aerial traveller will tour regularly by
air, using his flying machine as he would a motor. Already, dotted
about England, are aerodromes he may use as halting-points on his
flight, and at which he can house his machine and secure the attention
of mechanics; and the number of these grounds should grow rapidly in
the future.

In the aeroplane for the tourist, for the man who buys a machine and
flies for his own pleasure, it is necessary to combine comfort and
safety. As regards comfort, though much remains to be done in the
perfection of detail, the occupants of a machine are now more studied
than they were in the pioneer days. Then a pilot sat out on a crude
seat, exposed fully to the rush of wind as a machine moved through the
air. Now he is placed within a covered-in hull, a screen to protect
him from the wind. From this stage, as was the case with the motor-car,
rapid progress should be made in a provision of comfort.

When touring by air under favourable conditions, there should be no
more risk with an aircraft than with a motor-car. One of the most
frequent causes of accident, as we have shown, has been the structural
weakness of a machine. Now, with the experience of the war on which to
draw, and with many clever brains focussed on the development of the
industry, this risk may be regarded as almost non-existent; as
negligible a factor as it is possible to make it, remembering that
aircraft, like other mechanism, have to be built by human hands.

Another risk, that of engine failure, may, as we have explained, be
eliminated by the use of more than one motor. In the application of
such systems there is still much to be learned; but the obstacles are
not insuperable. One advantage that can be offered the aerial tourist,
reckoning him as a pilot of no more than average skill, who needs all
the aid that science can give him, is that he can obtain a machine
which, owing to its automatic stability, requires merely to be taken
into the air and brought to earth again, and which will practically
fly itself, once it is aloft.

One of the needs with a touring machine, to which makers must devote
their attention, is that it should be able to leave the ground quickly
in its ascent, and so permit its pilot to rise even from a small
starting ground. And it is equally necessary that, on occasion, a
machine should be able to alight safely, and at a slow speed, in quite
a small field. An aviator who had given up aviation temporarily, after
a long spell of cross-country flying, was asked one day when he was
going to fly again. "I shan't do so," he said, "till I can buy a
machine with which I can alight in my own garden."

Already there are craft which, provided high speeds are not expected
of them, and they are given ample plane-surface, will alight at quite
a moderate pace; but in the future, by the use of machines which have
the power of increasing or reducing their wing-surfaces while in
flight, it should be possible to descend in a space no larger, say,
than a garden. In the construction of variable-surface machines,
technical problems need to be faced which are unusually difficult. The
theory with such craft is that their sustaining planes, either by a
telescopic system, or by some process of reefing, are built so that
they can be expanded or contracted at the will of the pilot. Thus in
rising, when a machine is required to ascend with a minimum run
forward across the ground, a large area of lifting surface would be
exposed; and at the moment of alighting, also, when it was desired
that a machine should make its contact with the ground at the slowest
possible speed, a maximum of plane surface would be employed. But when
aloft, and in full flight, the pilot would be able if he so desired to
reduce the area of his lifting surface, and so increase materially his
speed. With a machine of this type, when perfected, it should be
possible to rise quickly, and descend slowly, and yet at the same time,
when well aloft, attain a high speed with moderate engine-power.

The commercial possibilities of aviation are vast and far-reaching:
not for nothing, after centuries of striving, have men conquered the
air. The aeroplane is destined, by the facilities it offers for
communication between nations, to play a vital part in the growth of
civilisation. The construction and perfection of a commercial
aeroplane, a machine which can be used for the transport of passengers,
mails, and goods, represents largely a question of time and of money.
Technical problems still need to be solved. But none of them are
insurmountable. All should be overcome by an expenditure of money and
in the process of time--granted of course that research is directed
upon the right lines. A sufficient amount of money for experimental
work, which in aviation is very costly, was one of the prime
difficulties before the war. Capitalists were chary of aviation; they
had no faith in it. Now, after the work aircraft have done in war, and
with the need to provide the world with air fleets, the industry need
live no longer from hand to mouth. There should be funds available for
experiments with commercial-type aeroplanes.

As to the factor of time, this depends largely on the facilities that
are obtained by the industry--apart from its work on naval and
military craft--for test work with other machines. But in five years' time,
granted progress continues on the lines now promised, we should
have a service of passenger aeroplanes, each carrying fifty or more
people, flying daily between London, the Midlands, and the North;
while in ten years' time it should be possible to cross the Atlantic,
from London to New York, by means of a regular service of aerial craft.

The commercial aeroplane, even when perfected, would not be likely to
compete successfully with other means of transit unless it could offer
the advantages of a greater speed. Here, indeed, in the speeds they
will attain, lies the future of aircraft. The air will be our highway
because, in the air, speeds will be reached that are impossible on
land or sea. As civilisation extends--this is of course a
truism--there grows with it a need for speedier travel; and we have
seen land and sea transit striving to meet this demand. But both have
reached, or are rapidly reaching, a limit of speed--a limit imposed by
the need to carry their passengers and goods on a remunerative basis.
On the sea, by burning excessive quantities of coal, it is possible to
add a few knots to the speed of a great liner. But then the problem
becomes one of profit and loss; while with trains--so nearly under
existing conditions have they reached a limit of speed--that a
difficulty is experienced, even on long runs, and under favourable
circumstances, in saving a minute here and there. It is not of course
to be assumed, when the spur of a greater necessity comes, that land
and sea transit will fail altogether to increase their existing
speeds. There is the mono-rail system of land traction, electrically
propelled, which has yet to be tested in a practical way; while on the
sea, perhaps, under pressure of competition, and with an increasing
demand for greater speeds, it may be possible to adapt with advantage,
even on large craft, some principle of the hydroplane.

But by way of the air, granted even a speeding-up on land and sea,
should go the high-speed traffic of the future. By a greater
efficiency in lifting surfaces and by reductions in the resistance a
craft offers to its own passage through the air; by the provision of
systems which will permit a pilot to reduce plane-area when his
machine has gained altitude and he desires a maximum speed; by the
equipping of craft with motors developing thousands of horse-power for
a very low weight--by such means, and by a general improvement in
design, it should be possible, eventually, to attain flying speeds of
150, 200, and even 250 miles an hour. From London to New York by air
liner, in less than twenty hours; such, for instance, should be an
attainment of the future.

It seems probable, in the development of the commercial aeroplane, we
shall have machines for touring and for pleasure flights--craft not of
large size but in which efforts are made to obtain a greater
reliability and comfort. Then it appears likely that aircraft may
reach a practical use as carriers of mails and of light express goods;
first of all in localities, and under conditions, which favour
specially an aerial transit. And from this phase we should move to the
passenger-carrying craft; to the days when we shall be able to spend a
week-end in New York, as readily as it has been the habit to do in
Paris; when we shall be able to reach any part of the world in a
journey by air lasting, say, a week or ten days. Then, as a recompense
for the lives that have been lost, and for a conquest that has been so
dearly won, the world will enter upon an age of aerial transit--the
age when frontiers and seas will act as barriers no longer, when
journeys that now last weeks will be reduced to days, and those of
days to hours; when first of all Europe, and then the world, will be
linked by airway.


THE END.



INDEX


    AERODROMES, their evolution, 14

    Age, its relation to flying, 11

    Alighting, operation of, 51


    BIPLANES and tuition, the "pusher" type, 16

    Bleriot, Louis, study of his methods as a pilot, 84


    CERTIFICATE of proficiency, tests for, 54

    Cody, S. F., 90

    Commercial possibilities of aviation, 107

    Conneau, Lieut. J. ("Beaumont"), 87

    Constructional weakness in aeroplanes, risks of, 60

    Controllability of aeroplanes, problems of, 33

    Cross-country flying, pupils' first experiences, 92


    DUAL-ENGINE machines, 79


    ENGINE failure, risks of, 65

    Enjoyment of learning to fly, 12


    FARMAN, Henri, pioneer work as an aviator, 86

    Fees for tuition, 13

    First flights, pupil as passenger, 39


    HEALTH and flying, 10

    Human factor in relation to accidents, 71


    IMPROVEMENTS in aircraft which spell safety, 76

    Industry of aviation, its expansion, 100

    Instructors, qualifications necessary, 15


    LATHAM, HUBERT, temperamental study, 86

    Learning to fly not dangerous, 11


    MANUAL dexterity, need of, 12


    OPPORTUNITIES for the newcomer in aviation, 101


    "ROLLING" (handling a machine on the ground), 43


    SCHOOL aeroplanes, types of, 16
    ---- aeroplanes, need for ample supply, 15
    ---- biplane, its controls, 34

    Schools, modern, their conveniences, 18

    Sensations of flight, 41

    Speed in its relation to flying, 31

    Speed, promise of the future, 109

    Straight flights, 44

    Sustaining planes, their operation, 32


    TEMPERAMENT, the ideal for flying, 22

    Time required in learning to fly, 19

    Touring by air, 105

    Turning in the air, 46


    VEDRINES, Jules, his piloting, 90

    Vol-plané, the, 48


    WEATHER, its effect on tuition, 38

    Wind fluctuation, dangers of, 62
    ---- flying, 80

    Wrights, Wilbur and Orville, 82



BIBLIOGRAPHY


_Some books selected as being likely to appeal to a man, without
technical knowledge, who contemplates learning to fly._

"THE AIRMAN," by CAPTAIN C. MELLOR, R.E. Published by Mr. John Lane,
the Bodley Head, London. (3s. 6d.)

Describes the author's experiences, in France, while obtaining a
brevet on a Maurice Farman biplane.

"THE ESSAYS OF AN AVIATOR." Obtainable from "Aeronautics," 170, Fleet
Street, London, E.C. (2s. 6d.)

A series of admirable papers, written by a pilot and from a pilot's
point of view.

"THE AERONAUTICAL CLASSICS." A series of booklets issued at 1s. each
by the Aeronautical Society, 11, Adam Street, Adelphi, London, W.C.

Describe authoritatively, and very interestingly, the work of great
pioneers.

"FLIGHT WITHOUT FORMULÆ," by COMMANDANT DUCHENE, of the French Génie
(translated from the French by John H. Ledeboer). Published by
Longmans, Green & Co., 39, Paternoster Row, E.C. (7s. 6d.)

Instructive discussions, clearly expressed, on the mechanics of the
aeroplane.

"PRINCIPLES OF FLIGHT," by A. E. BERRIMAN. Obtainable from "Flight"
Offices, St. Martin's Lane, London, W.C. (2s.)

"AERO ENGINES," by G. A. BURLS. Published by Charles Griffen & Co., 12,
Exeter Street, Strand, London, W.C. (8s. 6d.).

       *       *       *       *       *

AUTHORS' NOTE.--The above list does not, of course, pretend to
be in any way complete. It is designed merely to act as a
suggestion for the novice.--C. G.-W., H. H.

       *       *       *       *       *

THE LONDON AND NORWICH PRESS LIMITED, LONDON AND NORWICH, ENGLAND





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