Fifty years of Pi­lot

Pilot - - CONTENTS - By: Ju­dith Austin

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.

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