Fifty years of Pilot
Highlights from the first fifty years
In Pilot fifty years ago The Brookland ‘Mosquito’ gyroplane [ sic] featured on the cover of July 1968’s magazine. Designed and built by Ernie Brooks, a motor engineer from County Durham, it was proving popular as a homebuilt and production was under consideration. Sadly, however, Mr Brooks was killed in March 1969 during a demonstration flight. The other flight test featured a more durable aircraft, the Wassmer Baladou, which thoroughly impressed tester T G Prytherch in all aspects, including its luxurious interior, climb performance and carrying capability. Pilot’s own homebuild aeroplane − the Sprite − had still to get off the drawing board, with the building of the prototype put back to September. The reason given was that the designer was away and it was felt sensible to have him around. Watch this space!
A series of articles got underway covering then Chief Test Pilot of Sportavia Gmbh Bernard Chauvreau’s intended trip in an RF-4 from Paris to Brazzaville, routeing directly across the Sahara desert with its inhospitable terrain and the likelihood of sandstorms. PRE-GPS, this was a daunting undertaking, but this first instalment sees him cross it and land safely at the oasis of In-salah. Less inspiring (to the average pilot) must have been the sixpage article devoted to the R/T required for flying in controlled airspace, almost three pages of which covered an example of R/T during an airways flight. Forty years ago From pedal-power to turbopower, this issue celebrated both. The cover aircraft, the Gossamer Condor, was the eventual winner of the Kremer Prize and £50,000 (over £200K today), flying a human-powered one-mile figure-of-eight course in just over six minutes. By contrast, Alan Bramson’s article clearly illustrates and describes the principles of the turbojet, fanjet and turboprop engine and their differences.
The magazine featured two flying adventures. The first took pilot Harold Best-devereux across the USA in a 1936 Miles Whitney Straight to deliver the aircraft to its new owner, from Canada’s docks to Truckee Tahoe airport, via a memorable week at Oshkosh and including coaxing the Straight up to 10,000 feet to cross the mountains to reach Tahoe. The second adventure involved ferrying a Piper Navajo across the Atlantic to its new home in the UK. The new owner took along an experienced colleague and together they made it back to Headcorn without too many surprises. Rejoicing in older aircraft, an article on the Confederate Air Force − today renamed the Commemorative Air Force − described the ‘characters’ that had put together and kept flying every type of American fighter, several US bombers, and a few Allied and Axis aircraft at their Texas base Book reviews included author and pilot Brian Lecomber’s Talk Down, the story of a low-hours PPL who sets off from Newcastle with his non-flying girlfriend and promptly has a brain haemorrhage, just as he’s changing frequencies.
Thirty years ago In a ‘little and large’ comparison, flight tests featured the Piper Warrior II and the Boeing 757 with its futuristic glass cockpit. The former receives flighttester Alan Bramson’s seal of approval, while the latter, described by a BA pilot, with computers continually monitoring the engine and flight parameters, is labelled ‘revolutionary’. Who would have thought GA pilots could have something similar not too long after?
Brian Smith’s introduction to flying the Spitfire − by serendipity he was in the right place at the right time when asked by Ray Hanna to fly MH434 − is workmanlike, describing the process of starting up, taxying, handling, and landing back, contrasting with many lyrical pieces focusing on how lovely it is.
A sobering safety report covers the mid-air collision between a Mexican DC-9 and a Piper Cherokee over California. Investigators discovered that not only did both aircraft have all their lights on but that they would have been visible to one another for 65 seconds prior to impact. Sadly, poor lookout still features large in ‘Safety Matters’ reports today. Twenty years ago This issue was packed with interesting features. First up, the late Geoff Jones wrote about the challenges (and rewards) of building a Europa, as described to him by three homebuilders. Then, a duo of articles from Derek and Morag Jones: first a
Letter from New Zealand related the story of their stay in NZ, the airfields they visited, including a trip to Wanaka for the airshow, aircraft they saw and flew, and the scenery. Later, Derek describes a trip in a restored de Havilland DH.84 Dragon. Another flying adventure took a Stampe from Dunkeswell to Glenforsa in Scotland, including mountain flying and landing on the small island of Gigha. Making the return trip to Dunkeswell in one day gave pilot and passenger a newfound respect for the (backside) endurance of aviation pioneers. Bob Grimstead was enthusiastic about the Pegasus Quantum 912 microlight, finding it simple − and safe − to fly, so long as the pilot remembers to reverse the control inputs burned into the brain for fixed-wing aircraft. At the other end of the power spectrum was a profile of The Fighter Collection at Duxford, whose extensive collection of WWII aircraft still thrills spectators today.
Later, Dr Alfred Price describes Fl Lt Ted Powles’ 1952 Spitfire flight, when he took an 18 Squadron PR.19 PS852 to over 50,000 feet and probably reached the greatest speed ever attained by a Spitfire − Mach 0.94/690mph − on the descent. Ten years ago Another bumper issue featured two flight tests − on the new AT-3 and the pusher Sky Arrow, a flying adventure to Hawaii, a ‘Buyer’s Guide’ to the Bücker Jungmann, a ‘First Look’ at the LSA Paradise P-1, a feature on autogyros, a ‘Letter from Everest’, an airfield profile, and practical advice on taming crosswinds. Phew! The seaplane sight-seeing tour of Hawaii contrasts starkly with the daunting flying required just to arrive at Everest base camp via Lukla airport. The new Aero At-3 (VLA Gobosh 700) was pronounced a great trainer with good all-round performance, while Bob Grimstead called the Sky Arrow ‘hard to beat’ and ‘sleek and stylish’. The Bücker Jungmann ‘Buyer’s Guide’ found only one thing against this pretty biplane − the cockpit is tight if you are over six foot tall − and perhaps the price – high for a good example; otherwise, it’s a lovely machine, as owners Peter Kynsey and Anna Walker attest.
Information on autogyro training and flying was coupled with a trial of one owner’s MT-03, being operated at a third of the cost of his former PA-28.