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1919 ourfirstairwayst00grahrich

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    Photo bv lidiott & fry CLAUDE GRAHAME-WHITK

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    INTBODUCTIONaircraft industry, now and in

    the future, must receive notonly the financial support of

    the Government, but also the moral supportand encouragement of the entire nation.No cry for retrenchment, however desir-able in other directions, must be allowedto retard the progress of aeronautics.

    Money spent on aircraft is a form ofnational insurance an insurance againstour peril should some enemy, attackingus by air, endeavour to strike a blow sosudden and so paralysing that the wholenation, crippled and disorganized, wouldbe compelled to sue for an immediatepeace.

    The same energy, determination, and6

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    vi INTRODUCTIONgrit which Britons everywhere have putinto the titanic struggle that has ended ina victory so glorious for our arms, mustnow be devoted to securing, and thenmaintaining, the aerial strength and poweron which the future safety of our Empirewill most assuredly depend.

    Aeronautics is, indeed, a subject whichis something very much more than merelycommercial. It is not only national butalso Imperial; and it is something evenmore than both of these : it is a subjectwhich affects the development, happiness,and peace of the entire world. When,with the growing speed of aerial transport,a business man will be able to dine in NewYork one evening and in London the next ;when no part of the earth's surface, how-ever remote, is more than a week's journeyaway from London by air, then we maysurely say that the coming of this aerial age

    at the dawn of which we now standwill do more for the world than any other

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    INTRODUCTION viiinvention or discovery man has evermade.What we must contemplate is that thewhole of the high - speed traffic of theworld will be transferred gradually fromland and sea to air. This is no longer anovelist's dream: it is a change which willnow come about within a definite periodof years ; and just how long this will bedepends mainly on the initiative of thepublic in making use of the aerial serviceswhich we shall now so soon be organizing.

    Our main task, in the immediate future,is to accustom people to the idea thatwhen they are called on to make anurgent journey, or when they wish to sendan important letter or parcel, an aerialservice, in preference to the railway service,is now at their disposal. We want to makepeople think about these new air services ;to envisage what they really mean. Wewant them to become familiar in theirminds with the idea of travelling by air,

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    viii INTRODUCTIONjust as they are familiar with the idea oftravelling in a motor-car or train. Andhere the Press, if it will do so, can helpus very greatly. By keeping commercialand pleasure-flying constantly before thepublic, and by showing people how safeand practical it has become, the news-papers can render our movement thegreatest possible assistance ; and we arenot likely to appeal to them in vain.Prominent men, also, can help the move-ment very /materially if they will nowbegin to use the aeroplane as a vehicle

    when they require to make an urgentjourney. Mr. Bonar Law, among others,has set an admirable example in thisrespect by flying to France and back toattend the deliberations preceding thearmistice, and also by using the aeroplaneto visit his constituency. It is gratifyingalso to find that business houses, as wellas private individuals, are already beginningto place orders for machines which are to

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    INTRODUCTION ixbe used for rapid journeys or pleasureflights.

    The spirit of reconstruction with whichwe enter on the era of peace now dawning,the desire to make the fullest use of ourtime, to scrap old, outworn ideas andwelcome new ones, will help very greatlyin the development of commercial flying.The whole atmosphere is propitious. Timeis money ; and with huge tasks now facingus, and with every minute meaning moreto us than it ever did before, we shall findpeople only too ready to travel fromLondon to Paris in two-and-a-half or threehours by air, instead of spending sevenor eight on the journey by land and sea ;to say nothing of the discomforts of abad sea crossing, which is dreaded sogreatly by many travellers.

    Here we are confronted, however, bythree questions which we are so oftenasked. These are:

    (1) Can an air service be made safe ?

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    x INTRODUCTION(2) Can it be made reliable ?(3) Can it be made to pay ?These are the essential questions, and allwe ask is that readers should approach them

    with an open mind. They should bear inmind what has been accomplished in aero-nautics within a comparatively few years.It was only eight years ago that wewere told repeatedly that it would neverbe possible to fly an aeroplane in badweather ; while a good deal more recentlyeven than that it was contended that anaeroplane, owing to its frailness and allegedunreliability, would never play any reallyuseful part in war. Well, facts can speakfor themselves, now, in both these respects.Aeroplanes fly quite safely even throughgales of wind. They have just exercised avitally important influence on the greatestwar in history ; and when we describe, aswe shall in this book, the vastly importantpart they are now to play in developingthe commerce of the world, we think that,

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    INTRODUCTION xion the actual achievements which aero-nautics now has to its credit, we are fullyentitled to an attentive and open-mindedhearing.

    The aeroplane is the fastest vehicle inthe world, and is likely to remain so ; theair is our ideal speedway. But speed aloneis not enough. If it cannot be combinedwith safety, and with an ability to fly regu-larly to a daily time-table, then the use ofthe air will always be irregular, and airservices will be unable to compete withother methods of transport. Nor must weignore the important question of finance.The operation of an airway must be com-mercially sound : in short, it must be madeto pay.

    Another matter of extreme import-ance is this : we in the aircraft industrydesire to start commercial flying with thefewest possible restrictions so far as thelaw is concerned, because we foresee quitewell how rules and regulations might, if

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    xii INTRODUCTIONthey were burdensome, retard progress..But when we ask for such freedom, andfor confidence to be shown us, we onour part must recognize our serious dutytowards the public. We must not onlycarry in safety the people who travel byair, but we must do everything in ourpower to prevent the use of the airbeing a danger or an annoyance to thosewho occupy the land over which ouraerial routes will pass. In war-time every-body has been willing to take a lenientview of any invasion of their property bya suddenly-descending aircraft, but nowwhen private purchasers buy machines, andwish to use them as they would a motor-car, it will be very necessary for us toprevent any friction between those whouse the air and those who remain on theground.

    In a compulsory descent, made sud-denly on private land, we must be preparedto face the fact that damage might be done.

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    INTRODUCTION xiiiDuring the war, in fact, a number of suchcases have occurred ; and it would be athousand pities if in the early days ofcommercial and pleasure-flying the publicattitude showed any tendency to becomehostile. How, mainly by organization andby forethought, this risk may be avoided,it will be one of our main purposes in thisbook to explain.


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    FrontispiecePACIKG PAG*



    prepared by the designing staff of the Orahame-WhiteCompany.

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    WE shall have multi-engined air-craft, immediately, which willcarry twenty or thirty pas-sengers from London to Paris in less thanthree hours, as compared with seven oreight by land and sea ; and the passengerswho travel by air will not only do so inperfect comfort, but will be spared theinconvenience of changing from train toboat, and also the ordeal of the sea-crossing,which is often so unpleasant. In regard tosuch aircraft as we have mentioned, thereis now no


    uncertaintyor doubt ;

    they can be made available now for a pas-senger service as soon as this is authorisedby the Air Ministry, which has adopted thevery wise attitude that, until an adequate

    B 2

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    4 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSorganisation has been prepared, and con-ditions generally are favourable, it wouldbe unwise to embark upon public servicesby air.From machines carrying twenty orthirty passengers we shall progress to thosewhich will accommodate fifty and a hun-dred. It is perfectly feasible, now, to en-sure the comfort of passengers. They willbe seated in enclosed saloons, protectedcompletely from any rush of wind ; andthe motors which drive the machineswill be so silenced, and so isolated fromthe saloons, that nothing but a low drone,which will be the combined sound ofmotors, propellers, and a rush of air,will reach the passengers' ears. Space willbe provided also in which they can moveabout, should they desire at any time toleave their seats ; while from observa-tion windows they will be able to lookdown, whenever they care to do so, on awide panorama of land or water, according

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 5to the position of the machine in its relationto the earth.

    All this is not only possible, but isnow to become an accomplished fact. ALondon -Paris route, or a New York-Chicago route, will merely be two out ofmany. The whole of Europe, the vastterritory of America, and by degrees theentire world, will be covered by a networkof aerial ways ; while air speeds will soincrease that before long we shall havecommercial craft which will attain, andexceed, a rate of 200 miles an hour. The"air age," foreseen for centuries by menof imagination, will at last dawn upon theworld.

    IIUnder the stimulus of four-and-a-half

    years of war, the aircraft industry has mademore progress than it would have done intwenty years of peace ; and it should be

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    6 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSconsoling and encouraging to us to re-member that these wonderful weapons,which have carried destruction for hundredsof miles, can in the days of peace be con-verted just as readily to the constructiveand useful task of quickening the world'scommunications, and enabling us the morespeedily to repair the damage which hasbeen caused by war.

    In this respect, truly, the aircraft in-dustry is in a unique position. Born, onemay say, under the stress of war becausethere was practically no industry, at anyrate in this country,

    before the war itwill carry all the weight of its experience,all the value of the lessons learned, intothose splendid days of peace towards whichthe eyes of the world are now directed.The warship is a warship, even in days ofpeace ; and the millions we have spent onshells, guns, and the whole vast impedi-menta of land warfare, are little better thanso many millions thrown in o the sea once

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS ' 7hostilities have ceased. But several typesof aircraft we have used in the war may beconverted at once, and at no great cost, topurely commercial work. The big bomber,for example, with certain alterations in itsfuselage, and in other minor directions, maybe turned into a passenger or goods-carryingcraft ; though, of course, it will not be soefficient as a machine built specially forcommercial purposes. The high - speedfighter or scout can, with small modifica-tions, be used in an express mail service.There are other war machines, also, whichcan be put to commercial use. Thereforethe money we have expended on waraircraft is far indeed from being wasted;and this quite apart, of course, from theimmense importance of the purely militarywork on which the machines have beenengaged.

    With the war over, we not only haveservice machines which can be used im-mediately for peaceful tasks, but we have

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    8 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSsomething else which will be more valuableeven than this. We have a vast amountof data, as to the use of aircraft under themost exacting conditions, which, thoughit is true that it is war data, will be in-valuable all the same, when it is collated,to the designer of a purely commercialmachine. It should be the policy of theAir Ministry, therefore, bearing this im-portant point in mind, to make readilyaccessible to the industry all this mine ofknowledge which now exists, not only inregard to aircraft, but also as to theirpiloting. The severe strains of war flying,not only on pilots but on machines, shouldindeed provide us with data which willbe of the utmost possible service.

    The design of a war machine, which isexpected to climb rapidly, to travel ex-tremely fast, and to fly for long distanceswithout alighting, and to carry at the sametime a heavy load of fuel, instruments?guns, and bombs, is a far more difficult

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 9task than the design of a commercialmachine, which will not be required toclimb fast, which will effect a reasonablecompromise between the speed attainedand the load carried, and which will not, asa rule, require an excessive weight of fuel,seeing that on many commercial routes adescent will be made after a few hours'flying, not so much on account of themachine as for the comfort of passengers,who, at first, at any rate, will not desire toremain in a craft for many hours on end.This being so, the success of the designerof commercial craft should be appreciablygreater than that of the designer of warmachines ; and, as the designers of warmachines have already done far more thansome experts thought they would everbe able to do, it is safe to assume thatthe progress made with commercial craftwill be very surprising and very significant,more especially to those who still pose assceptics.

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    Apart, however, from speculations as tothe future, and reckoning only the machineswe shall actually have, it will be possible,as we have shown, to carry passengers atmore than twice the speed of an expresstrain ; and it will be possible in additionto carry urgent letters, or light expressgoods, at approximately three times thespeed that is possible by train. And suchspeeds, even when they are attained, re-present no more than a quite moderateperformance. Scientific opinion, as ex-pressed in the light of knowledge whichhas been gained during the war, sees noreason, now, why a speed through the airas great

    as 240 miles an hour should notbe attained, and this merely by a reasonablysimple development of existing-type craft :and when this speed has been reached, andwe are passing through the air at the rateof four miles a minute, it should be possible

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 11to effect improvements in wing construction,to which we shall refer later, which mayquite conceivably lead to increases up toas great a speed as 300 miles an hour.When we reach these days, and they maynot be far distant, the business men of NewYork and London will be separated notby a journey of days, but mei^ly ofhours.

    It is not our intention though, here,to carry the reader into realms of imagina-tion, but to ask him rather to considerthose readily accessible craft which we shallbe despatching immediately on mail andpassenger flights. The obvious interest ofthe ordinary citizen in commercial flying isas to what benefits it may bring him per-sonally, either in business or as a vehicle forpleasure. Of course if he is a thoughtfulcitizen he will recognise that there isanother and an even greater aspect of thedevelopment of flight ; the aspect whichproves that it will be imperative for us,

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    12 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSif we are to retain our position as a greatworld-power, and sleep securely in ourbeds at night, to take our rightful placeupon the highways of the air. But for themoment we prefer to deal with strictlycommercial aspects, and to regard mattersfrom the point of view of the business man.

    There will, as we have suggested, betwo main users of the air, those who flyfor business and those who fly for plea-sure ; and it is with the first we shall nowconcern ourselves. It is clear, of course,that no business men at all would beinduced to leave the earth, and take tothe air, unless some very definite advantagecould be offered them an advantage theycould not gain in any other form of travel.And the advantage of airways, when incompetition with railways, will obviouslybe their greater speed. This should alwaysremain so. Even with accelerations inrailway transit, such as may now beexpected, the airway should always be

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 13considerably faster than the railway ; andthis superiority, clear as it will be evenwith the first air services, should grow moremarked as time goes on, and as air speedscontinue to increase. There is, of course,electrical traction, combined perhaps withthe use of mono-rail tracks, which mayoffer considerable accelerations in landspeed. But even assuming that the speedof an express train can be increased from50 miles an hour to 100, it may be takenfor granted that, by the time any suchimprovement has been effected, the speedof the airways will have been more thandoubled, and that passengers will be carriedby air at a rate of 200 miles an hour.

    That the public demand greater speedis proved again and again by the patronagewhich is extended instantly to any land orsea route which can offer some new ad-vantage in time-saving, as compared withthe performance of its rivals. This de-mand, sufficiently keen before the war, and

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    14 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSleading as it did to railway races, and thefierce competition of Atlantic transportlines, should now be even more insistent,because the world will be busy withschemes of reconstruction, and there willbe so much high-pressure work to be donethat the axiom " time is money " will havea significance even greater than was thecase in former days. The man of affairs,with many business interests to supervise,who strives to crowd a maximum of hisown personal work into any given periodof time, welcomes always the extra hourhe may gain by travelling the quickestway ; and if, when he wants to go fromLondon to Paris, he finds he can get therein three hours by air, saving a clear fourhours over land and sea transit, then heshould most certainly be ready to go byairway and pay a special fare for the privi-lege of doing so provided he feels surehe will be carried with safety.

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    Here one reaches the crux of the ques-tion. If one were to write for hours, ortalk for days, one would come back in-evitably to this fundamental question :" Can flying be made safe ? " On theanswer rests the whole future of com-mercial aeronautics. Speed alone will notbe sufficient. Airways must be capableof being operated with reasonable safety ;and, as a point of almost equal importanceto the business world, they will require alsoto be operated reliably. Before a regularstream of land traffic can be diverted fromearth to air these two questions will haveto be answered satisfactorily ; and notmerely in the form of written words, butin the actual records of the first services.These air services must, in a word, shownot only that they can carry passengerssafely, but that they can adhere to theirtime-tables for a large number of days in

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    1C OUR FIRST AIRWAYSthe year, and that business men who startby air say from London to Paris mayreckon they are as reasonably certain toreach their destination, at the time specified,as they would be if they travelled by landand sea.

    Though many people refuse to believethat an air service can be conducted safelyuntil this has been proved by the dailyrecords of an actual service, there are manyothers, we hope, who, while reserving judg-ment to a certain extent, are at the sametime sufficiently interested to wish to betold how, by the careful organization of anairway, it will be possible to give aerialtravelling just as much safety as whentravelling by land or sea. Such readerswe now address.

    It would be an injustice, in the firstplace, to form the opinion that flying isunsafe, and always must remain so, merelyon the records of what has been done up tothe present day ; and for the simple reason

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 17that flying has not yet been organized,and that no regular commercial routeshave yet been opened up. One shouldremember, too, when instancing railways,and the safety they have attained, that ithas been organization, combined with ex-perience, and improvements in constructionand operation, which have given them thishigh factor of safety. The same applies tosea travelling, or any other form of locomo-tion ; and it will be the same in the air.

    VThe mere fact that a machine is passing

    through the air, without any earth contact,introduces nowadays no particular elementof danger. Provided the machine main-tains forward speed and inherent stabilitynow ensures this its planes have sufficientlift to maintain it in flight, and there is nopossible fear of its falling ; while as for risksarising say from sideslip, or the action of

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    18 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSviolent wind-gusts, feared so greatly by thepioneers, it is now a fact that inherentlystable machines, no matter what positionthey may be forced into, will themselvesrecover, and resume normal flight, withoutany intervention from the pilot.

    The effect of adverse winds, whenencountered by the large multi-enginedmachines we are now using, are relativelyunimportant. Small boats are tossed abouteven by a moderate sea, but a large vesselwill force its way through turbulent waterwith very little oscillation ; and while thesmall, low-powered aeroplane of early days,with its lack of momentum, made very badweather in a gusty wind, the larger modern-type machine will thrust through adversegusts with scarcely a pitch or roll ; and thiseven when conditions prevail which wouldhave been declared impossible for flyingonly a few years ago. With the large com-mercial craft we shall soon use, their enginesdeveloping thousands of horse-power, the

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 19effect even of a gale will show itself onlyin the time occupied by a flight, and willin no way imperil the machine.

    Readers may ask why, if the safety offlying has become so great, they shouldhave read so often lately of an aeroplaneaccident. The answer is simple. Evolu-tions have been made in the air, andpurely warlike feats attempted, which haveoften involved pilots in considerable risk.These evolutions were necessary as long aswe were at war, and pilots accepted them,philosophically, as a war risk ; but they areunnecessary in commercial flying. In thisdirection alone, in the ceasing of dangerousmanoeuvres, there should be a markedreduction in the number of accidents re-corded. In peace, also, when there is notthe same urgent demand for pilots asin war, we can extend the period duringwhich an aviator is being taught. Hewill acquire knowledge more gradually,and*gain a greater actual experience, before

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    20 OUR FIRST AIRWAYShe attempts any important flight. And sohe will be less likely, obviously, to makemistakes.

    VIIt should be stated that even with craft

    which are automatically stable, capablepractically of flying themselves when at asufficient altitude, there still remain cir-cumstances in which a pilot may come togrief, and in which he may wreck hismachine, and perhaps lose his life. Thegreatest risk is always when a machine isvery near the ground. If an error is -madeat a low altitude, the pilot may be unableto rectify it before he has come in heavycontact with the ground. Even with auto-matically stable craft, which will dive andrecover their flying speed should a pilothave committed the error of " stalling "them bringing them, that is to say, to astandstill in the air, and thus deprivingtheir planes of sustaining power a certain

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 21clear air-space below them is requiredbefore they can re-establish lift; remem-bering always that lift is due solely tothe forward movement of the plane, andfails directly a machine is deprived of thisforward motion. The craft has, in effect,to dive forward and downward for a shortdistance, after being brought to a standstill,before it can restore this lift to its planes.If, therefore, a pilot should have " stalled "it near the ground, say by endeavouringto climb too fast, the machine may beunable to recover itself before it is incontact with the ground. The samemay apply to other errors in pilotage,if they are made at very low altitudes.Should, however, they occur at anythinglike a reasonable height, then either themachine itself, or the pilot by his ownexertions, will repair the error before thereis any danger of striking the ground. Butthe risk is always there, and it may -be aserious one should men be foolish enough

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    22 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSto attempt dangerous manoeuvres at lowaltitudes ; the risk, that is to say, of amachine which is flying near the groundpassing suddenly out of control, throughsome error of its pilot, and, before controlcan be restored, coming into contact withthe ground.

    The continuance of this risk underpeace conditions is the point with whichwe are most concerned. It may be said, atonce, that a completely " fool-proof " aero-plane cannot be expected ; the humanelement can never be wholly eliminated.A man who has been badly or hurriedlytrained, or is incapable of taking precau-tions, will always be a menace to himselfand to others ; but still it should be re-membered at the same time that, evenwhile aeronautics remain in their infancy,and assuming of course the use of a well-designed and properly-adjusted machine,travelling at a sufficient altitude, there isno more danger in flying than there is say

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    24 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSamount of daily flying which is now done,and when one realizes that hundreds ofthousands of miles are now being travelledby air, the actual mishapswhich take place,in comparison with the vast total distancewhich is flown in safety, makes it suffi-ciently clear that, when we have still bettermachines and more perfectly trained pilots,and when we have organized "airways"leading from point to point, it will bepossible to reduce the risks of flying untilthey are no greater, and in some respectseven less, than those of any other form ofhigh-speed transit.


    We devote space to this question be-cause it is one, as we have said, of out-standing importance. Not only must flyingbe made safe, but the mass of the peoplemust assure themselves that it is safe, if weare to reap the full fruits of this great

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 25conquest. It is essential also,

    in theearlydays of commercial flying, when the public

    will look critically upon this new form oftravel, that there should be no heavy recordof accidents. It is here that so much can bedone by investigating carefully all accidentswhich do take place, and by eliminatingpromptly the defects, human or mechanical,which have been their cause. The AirMinistry has now a Committee which in-vestigates very thoroughly all the accidentsof a . serious nature which befall Servicecraft. This is an extremely valuable work;and it should be interesting, and alsoinstructive, before we turn from thequestion, to indicate quite briefly theprincipal causes of accident at the presenttime.

    First comes engine failure. It is,records show, an engine failure which takesplace when a machine is near the ground,and perhaps over bad country from thepoint of view of a forced landing, that

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    26 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSends most often in a crash. Ordinarily,the failure of its engine while a machineis in flight implies merely that the pilotmust glide to the ground ; and if he canalight on anything like a suitable surfaceno harm at all is done. But it happenssometimes that a sudden failure takesplace at a moment when the pilot is notin a position to reach any suitable spot.And if he comes down in a field which istoo small, or on a very rough surface, hemay either collide with some obstructionor his machine may be overturned. It mayalso happen that, should a motor stopsuddenly, and disconcertingly, at a momentwhen a pilot is not sure of any safe alight-ing point, the mental shock will lead himto some error of judgment by which heminimizes whatever chance he may havehad of coining safely to ground.

    It is gratifying, in a sense, that the firstand most fruitful cause of accident shouldbe engine failure, because there is now

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 27every promise of being able practically toeliminate this risk. Every day, one mightalmost say, the aero-engine is becomingmore reliable ; and as soon as we can reapthe full benefit of war experience the primemover of an aircraft should give no moretrouble than that of a well-built motor-car.

    VIIIIt is now the intention as we shall

    describe presently in detail to have per-fectly-equipped aerial routes, with chainsof emergency alighting grounds so arrangedthat, provided a pilot is at a reasonableheight, he will be able always to reach oneor other of them in a glide, and so beabsolutely certain, at any moment, of makinga, smooth landing on a properly-preparedsurface.

    That the cost of any such alightinggrounds would be prohibitive, even on along route, is not a valid objection. The

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    28 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSpurely emergency ground will be merelya suitable field or fields, marked so thatit can be seen from the air, and containingnothing more as a rule than a shed, a tele-phone box, a store of fuel under the careof an attendant, and an apparatus for nightsignalling or use in fog. At the presenttime it is reckoned that an emergencyground should be of about sixty acres inextent.

    To a company intending to lay downan organized aerial route, several hundredof miles in length, and desiring to place anemergency ground at a distance of everyten miles, the actual expenditure involved,as indicated by its place in overhead charges,would add only a few pence a mile to thecost of running a service. The annualrental of an emergency ground shouldnot, on an average, be more than about120 a year, even in developed countries.

    So that even when one reckons upon thecost of these as

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 29a wise and very necessary outlay, theactual amount expended upon an airway,as compared say with a railway, should bereally very small indeed, and for the reasonthat aircraft, unlike trains or other surfacevehicles, require no permanent-way.

    Assuming the provision of emergencylanding grounds which it is now thoughtmight quite reasonably be a 'Governmentundertaking it is possible to say thataccidents following engine failure, such asoccur at the present time, would be almostcompletely obviated. Pilots would almostinvariably make a safe landing ; and it is inlanding after engine failure, when no suit-able place can be found, that the chiefcause of accident is found to-day. Itshould not be forgotten, either, that withlarge passenger craft, driven by severalmotors, any case of a descent throughengine failure should be rare, because, if asingle unit failed, or even two, the machinewould still continue in flight with its

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    30 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSremaining engines. There will, however, besingle-motored mail craft, and also single-engined machines for touring and pleasureflying ; and to these a chain of alightinggrounds will, from the point of view ofthe security they offer, prove speciallyvaluable. In night flying, also, which willbe necessary in the carriage of mails, theexistence of an organized route, which canbe lighted suitably and thus act as a guideto the pilot, will be essential to a reliableservice.

    IXA frequent cause of accidents, at thepresent time, is a pure error of judgmenton the part of a pilot, with the resultthat a crash follows for which the machineitself cannot be blamed at all. Here, again,under peace conditions a much greatersecurity should be obtained. Instead ofproducing pilots under conditions of highpressure, it should be possible to organize,

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 31and operate under the best conditions, ascheme of instruction which will ensurethat every man who takes a certificate ofproficiency is really competent in thebroadest sense, having been through aperiod of cross-country flying, and knowingperfectly well what to do should an emer-gency arise. By the utmost care in tuition,and by making sure that men who areunsuitable are not allowed to qualify aspilots, it should now be feasible to reduceto very small proportions indeed the riskof an accident taking place through anymistake, or rash action, on the part of apilot.

    Every day, we must bear in mind, menare more accustomed to navigate the air.And the men who are becoming familiarwith this newly-entered medium, throughtheir constant navigation of it, are impart-ing their knowledge to those who followthem, and this all tends, naturally, to agreater safety.

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    Another cause of accident lies in thefaulty design or construction of a machine,with a consequent breakage while in flight.Here, though, one has a risk which isenormously less than it was a few yearsago; and it should be reduced until it isalmost non-existent now we have reachedthe days of peace flying. There existsalready a sufficient knowledge of construc-tion, and sufficient experience on which todraw, to ensure that with the use of suit-able materials, and with a proper care intheir assemblage, an aircraft should be nomore likely to collapse than any othervehicle. Even under the abnormal con-ditions of war, which subject craft toenormously heavy strains, it is possibleto maintain a high factor of structuralstrength; and in peace flying, when com-mercial machines are subjected only to

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 33what one may call reasonable strains, andwith high-grade steels entering more intoprocesses of manufacture, there is everyground for stating that the collapse ofany part of a machine in flight, therebycausing an accident, will be encounteredso rarely that it will become a risk that isnegligible.

    Apart from such principal risks offlying, as they stand revealed to-day, thereare several other minor causes of mishap.One lies in the sometimes dangerousmanoeuvres which pilots have had to makewhen training for war service. This, how-ever, as we have already suggested, is a riskwhich will be eliminated in peace flying, atany rate among civilian pilots.

    Another danger is found in abnormalweather conditions ; a pilot may be caught,that is to say, in mist, rain, fog, or low-lying clouds, and a bad landing may result ;or he may encounter a violent disturbance,or find himself suddenly in a dangerous

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    34 OUR FIRST AIRWAYStrend of wind, when he is flying quite doseto the ground.

    This introduces a subject which is nowrealized to be vastly important, that of thestudy of meteorology as it affects aerialnavigation. Much has been done duringthe war, but very much more should nowbe possible. The main object must be tohave a complete system of meteorologicalstations, not only along the line of themain flying routes, but also at suitablepoints on either side of them, the aimbeing that the weather should be fore-casted so accurately, for any given routeand time, that a pilot before starting willknow exactly what conditions he is likelyto encounter, and will be able to avoidareas in which the weather is bad. Inconnection with long flights, such as thetrans-Atlantic, where prevailing winds mayeither help or hinder navigation, accordingto the course steered and the height attained,a study of the meteorology of the upper

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 35air has become most necessary ; while thereare other questions, as to the existence atcertain times of abnormal conditions, whichalso need investigation. The main fact,however, which already emerges, and whichshould be strongly emphasized, is that anefficient and well-financed service of meteor-ology, working solely in the interests ofcommercial flying, will add very greatlynot only to the reliability of any service,but also to its safety ; and the establish-ment and maintenance of such a servicewould be one of the directions in whichState assistance would be of extreme value.Another minor cause of accident, but apeculiarly distressing one, is the outbreak offire on a machine. This risk, due to theignition of petrol, takes place sometimes inthe air, but more often as a rule after amachine has been damaged in a bad landing.It is a risk which is now being studied mostcarefully, and, under the improved con-ditions of peace, it should be possible to

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    36 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSreduce it very greatly. It is most desirableto keep the main petrol supply well clear ofany of the heated parts of a motor, and alsoas far as possible from the magneto. It isnecessary, also, that exhaust pipes shouldbe clear of petrol pipes, and that the exhaustdischarge should be arranged in such a waythat a spark cannot set fire to any petrolvapour which may be coming from exits orleakages. In other ways, too, though theirtechnicality precludes mentioning themhere, the risks of fire in commercial orpleasure machines should be so minimizedthat they are almost non-existent.One other type of accident needs men-tion that which is caused by the suddenillness of a pilot when he is in charge ofa machine. He may lose consciousness,perhaps through being in bad health, orover-fatigued, while undergoing the strainof piloting a fast war machine. War flyinghas imposed a very much greater strain,naturally, than will flying in times of peace,

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 37but it will be necessary, always, and moreespecially with pilots of public service craft,to make certain that a man is fit, physicallyand temperamentally, before he is givencharge of a machine. Medical attention isbeing directed to the effect on a pilot ofascending rapidly to high altitudes, andthen perhaps descending again with equalrapidity. Such organic strains, though theymust be incurred in war, will not be neces-sary in civil flying. Moderate flying heightswill, as -a rule, be most suitable, and alsomost pleasant ; and in comfortable machines,moving at a reasonable altitude and speed,the physical effect of flying, on eitherpilot or passengers, should be exhilaratingrather than in any way harmful. Thepure air one breathes, when thousandsof feet high in an aeroplane, has all theinvigoration of a climb to a mountain-top.Touring by air, as compared with touringby motor-car, is infinitely more enjoyable,because in the air the tourist is free from

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    38 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSthe dust and heat of roads and from thevibration which is inevitable with anyvehicle travelling on land, but which is sosurprisingly and delightfully absent fromthe movement of an aeroplane.

    XIWe have dealt at an early stage with the

    question of safety, because it lies at the rootof the whole problem ; and the review wehave made of present-day risks, and our com-ments on them, may we hope lead a readerto view this general question as it should beviewed, and not to do flying the injustice ofassuming, before organization has been ap-plied to it, that it possesses forms of dangerwhich are irremediable. Emphatically, itdoes not. The modern aeroplane is sup-ported by its wings, when in the air, just assurely as a train on its metals. Its designis now so scientific, so certain, that there ispractically no risk at all, while it is in flight,

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 39of any abrupt fall to the earth through aloss of balance or control. Scientifically-designed machines, with stability which isinherent, may be compared to a lifeboat intheir power to recover from any and everyabnormal position into which they maybe forced. An inherently stable machine,if taken to a .height in the air, and thenlaunched upside-down, would turn overautomatically, and glide down right-side-up. If, when piloting it, you tried tobring it to a standstill in the air, and socause it to fall by taking away the supportof its planes, it would tilt its bow down-ward, again automatically, and begin atonce a dive which would restore its flyingspeed.We have run a risk of labouring suchpoints because the actual facts of flyingto-day are so different from what peopleimagine them to be. Many onlookers,when they see an aeroplane in flight,imagine its occupant sitting at levers

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    40 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSwhich he must move constantly in orderto keep his machine balanced. They lookupon him, in fact, as a sort of aerial tight-rope walker, who may overbalance at anymoment and crash to the ground. Suchimpressions are completely wide of themark. With an inherently-stable machine,once you have taken it to the requiredaltitude, it is quite possible, without anyrisk at all, to lock the controls and letthe machine fly itself; which it will do foras long as you desire, righting itself auto-matically should it be tilted sideways bya gust, and maintaining perfect stability,also, in a fore-and-aft direction. A touchon the rudder occasionally, to keep themachine on its course, is all the humanassistance it requires, and there is not evena remote chance of the machine losing itsbalance suddenly and falling. Its stabilityis absolutely automatic, absolutely perfect,depending not on mechanism which mayget out of [order, but on the design and

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 41position, in their relation to the air, ofits supporting, controlling, and stabilizingsurfaces. When one pictures a largemachine built on such lines, weighing withits load as much as ten tons, and beingdriven through the air in perfect safety ata speed of 100 miles an hour, and whenone remembers in addition that flying isstill at the dawn of its real development,one should be willing to concede that thefuture now has possibilities so great that


    they are practically illimitable.

    XIIOur concern, however, is with the

    immediate questions which arise in theestablishment and operation of the firstair services. We know, now, that suchservices are in process of organization. Weknow, too, that we shall have the pilots andmachines required. And so one returnsinevitably to the three prime questions

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    42 OUR FIRST AIRWAYS" Will such services be safe ? " " Will theybe reliable ? " " Will they pay ? "On safety we have dwelt carefully,seeking to remove from a reader's mindthe almost inevitable prejudice which mustexist against a new form of travel that isconducted not by the known and familiarmediums of land and water, but whichpasses high through the air. There is, inmany minds, the same timorous feeling as toman's invasion of this new element as therewas in those far-off days ^when men firstventured on the sea, and when a crossingof oceans, now undertaken as a matter ofcourse, would have appeared an adventuretoo desperate even to be thought of. Yetsea travel has been made so safe, atnormal times, that men feel as free fromanxiety in a large steamship as they wouldin an hotel on land. And as an organi-zation is created, and experience gained,travel by air will be made as safe as travelby sea, and people will cross above an

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 43ocean with just as little thought of dangeras they would if they were moving on itssurface. Familiarity with aerial travel, suchas we shall have now that peace has come,will produce a change in our mental out-look. The old picture of a lonely airman,balanced perilously in an element whichhe was foolish to invade, will give placeto a picture of the large multi-enginedcraft, cleaving its way through the airwith a swiftness, dependability, and absencefrom danger, which will make it the idealmachine for high-speed travel.

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    NOW, having gone so far, wecome face -to -face with thequestion whether, granted thatan air service can be conducted safely, it canalso be operated with regularity. Fromthe point of view of the Post Office,which will now desire to send by air anymail-matter which is specially urgent, thisquestion of dependability is obviously mostimportant. The essence of the contract,in carrying mails, is that they should becarried reliably, and that business shouldnot be jeopardized by the delay or non-arrival of important letters.

    It is no secret, now, that an officialdecision has been made, as between our-selves and the French, to institute amail-service between London and Paris

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    48 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSimmediately pilots and machines can bespared for the purpose, and a suitableground organization prepared. It is hoped,also, to continue the route from Paris toRome, and other great continental cities.If, for example, mails could be carried byair from London to Italy, instead of by landand water, their delivery could be expe-dited to the extent of a whole day, whichwould be of extreme value from a businesspoint of view. To obtain the full advan-tage from such a service, however, nightflying would be entailed ; therefore theorganisation, and particularly the lightingof the route, would be of great importance.For mail-carrying, in fact, a large amountof night flying must be contemplated ; butthere is no reason, given organization, whyit should not be carried out successfully.At night the conditions atmosphericallyare usually more suitable for flying thanby day, while the actual navigation ofmachines, and the prevention of errors in

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 49steering,

    should offer no difficulties thatorganization cannot remove ; particularlywhen we remember the enormous advan-tage now conferred by the developmentof directional wireless.

    IIOnce a prepared route is in existence

    the rest becomes a matter of organizationand of experience. We will assume thata direct London-Paris airway has been sur-veyed a task which must be undertakenby air as well as by land and that emer-gency alighting grounds have been pro-vided at intervals of ten miles on both theEnglish and French sections. It may beasked why such a specific distance as tenmiles should be chosen as the distance sepa-rating the landing grounds. The answer isgiven, graphically, in the illustration whichwill be found overleaf. Here you seetwo emergency grounds. Exactly midway

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    50 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSbetween them is an aeroplane. Thismachine we calculate to have a glidingangle of one in six. That is to say, whenits motor stops, and it has to use the forceof gravity to maintain it in forward motion,it will move forward six feet for every footit descends. When he is flying such amachine, therefore, a pilot will maintaina height of about 4000 or 5000 feet in orderto be certain of reaching a landing ground,even if his motor stops when he is exactlymidway between two grounds. It may beasked why, if machines are used whichhave several motors, and breakdown isunlikely, it should be necessary to makean elaborate provision for forced landings.The answer is that many single-motoredmachines will be flown over such a route.There will develop, for example, a special-ised form of express mail service, in whichthe machines used will be speed-craft pureand simple. They will contain only oneman, the pilot, who will carry a small bag of

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    ;.-.-,: J


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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 51mails, weighing perhaps 100 Ibs., and con-taining only letters for which a high fee hasbeen paid. With such a machine a sug-gested design for which will be found facingpage 54 if a chain of landing groundsis in existence on the route over which itflies, this fact alone will affect its wholedesign. Here, although one verges on tech-nicality, a simple explanation is still possible^These machines, flying probably at a rateof 170 miles an hour, will require to maketheir contact with the ground, on alighting,at a comparatively high speed. Their wingsurface, that is to say, will be so smallthat it will not support them unless theyare gliding fast. 1 If, therefore, such amachine has engine failure, and a forceddescent is necessary, the risk of the machineoverturning, or of running into some

    1 By fitting various forms of air brakes, oper-ated by the pilot, it should be possible to reduce,to quite an appreciable extent, the speed at whichsuch machines make their contact with theground.

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    52 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSobstruction, is likely to be considerablewhen the pilot has to choose some pointquite haphazard, and in a hurry, and dothe best he can to alight on it safely.But if he is flying along an organisedroute, with a smooth - surfaced groundalways within reach, then even if enginefailure does bring him down, he will bepractically sure of a safe landing, and ofnot damaging either himself or his machine.The existence, therefore, of an jestablishedroute, with landing facilities everywhere,will permit the use of craft with highalighting speeds, such as it would be un-reasonable to employ were no preparedgrounds available.

    Here, also, one reaches an importantfact. The Italians, who have the distinc-tion of being pioneers in this field, estab-lished early in the war a chain of emergencygrounds, approximately ten miles apart,between their manufacturing centres andheadquarters at the front. These grounds

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 53were merely large fields, each bearing a dis-tinguishing mark in whitened stones, andwith a boy scout stationed on it who couldcarry messages for any airman who mightdescend. Along these routes ^the Italianssent each new aeroplane as it was ready fordelivery to the front ; and the value of thelanding grounds was so clearly proved thatit was found, even in the first year, they hadmore than paid for themselves by savingthe breakage of machines which had todescend involuntarily. The pilot who hadengine trouble simply made his landingon the nearest alighting ground, obtainedassistance if he needed it, and was quicklyin flight again, with no damage at all done.Aerial transport companies should, as amatter of fact, regard the landing-groundsystem as a form of insurance ; it is onewhich should pay for itself quickly in thesaving of damage to machines, quite apartfrom the safety which it would provide forhuman life.

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    54 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSEmergency landing grounds will bespecially valuable in saving delay on an

    express air-mail service, should any craftdescend through engine failure. Each of

    , these grounds will be numbered ; and itwill also, as we have mentioned, have atelephone; while here and there, at suit-able points along a route, relief machineswill be stationed, with their pilots ready totake the air. Therefore, should a machinewhich is carrying mails have to descendbefore its journey is completed, its pilot-will bring it down on the nearest emergencyground, and will telephone at once to arelief point, stating that he has just de-scended on ground number so-and-so.Whereupon a relief machine will be quicklyon the spot, the mail-bag will be transferredto it, and it will continue the flight. Ifthere were not such a system of landinggrounds, a pilot might be forced to descend,involuntarily, at a point miles from thenearest telephone ; with the result that

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 55there would be a long delay before hecould get a message through describingwhat had happened to him, and an evenlonger delay before the pilot of a reliefmachine had found the exact point wherehe had descended. It might even be foundimpossible for the relief pilot to alight inthe same field in which the first machinehad descended; and this would mean afurther delay in the transference of themails. From whatever point of view oneregards the question, in fact, the provisionof a chain of landing grounds, each of themnumbered and connected by telephone,appears vital to the operation, on anythinglike a commercial or reliable scale, of thefirst air services. Without them, in thecase either of mails or passengers, one wouldbe in the position of just sending off apilot across country, without organizationor prevision, and if he made a forcedlanding at any spot which was not readilyaccessible, there might be hours' delay ;

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    56 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSwhereas in a similar contingency, onorganized routes, the delay should be verysmall indeed.

    In the case of wide districts oversea,when aerial journeys have to be conductedover uninhabited country, and hundreds ofmiles have to be flown across land wherethere are no conveniences in the shape oftelegraphs and telephones, the laying downof a proper route, with a chain 01 groundsconnected by wire or 'phone, will be in-dispensable. No reasonably safe servicecould, in fact, be run without them. Ina journey, for example, across some wideand very thinly populated territory, a pilotmight have to descend, involuntarily, a longway from any point where he could com-municate with his base; and this wouldcause delay, and perhaps even danger. Itis not improbable that in very remotecountry, with hundreds of miles of forest-land over which flights had to be under-taken, that, in the absence of organization,

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 57a machine might descend at some wild andinaccessible place, and never be heard ofagain. An organised route, desirable aswe have shown it to be in developedcountries, is likely indeed to be absolutelyessential in large and undeveloped lands ;and the cost of such an undertaking, evenwhen carried out on the fullest scale, wouldbe small when compared with the expenseof laying a railway across a wide tract ofundeveloped country. In clearing and pre-paring an alighting point for aircraft in theheart of forest land, or in precipitous orhilly country, a fairly considerable outlaymight of course be involved ; but thi;sshould be more than made up for by thelow cost of establishing other grounds onan undeveloped stretch of country.

    IllIt is argued sometimes that an emer-

    gency landing ground system, which would

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    58 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSnaturally entail expense, has now becomealmost unnecessary because of the reliabilitywe can obtain even with machines drivenby only one motor. It is also argued thatit is not wise to tie an air service down toone fixed route, like a railway. In doingso, it is stated, one robs it of the superioritywhich it possesses over a land service ; ofits ability, that is to say, to do without apermanent way, and fly by any route onwhich weather conditions happen to bemost favourable. Personally, we thinkthere is much in favour of this argument,We certainly should not envisage an airservice as passing always along one fixedline of country. If we did so, and whenthe time comes for meteorology to tell usfrom day to day just those areas andaltitude* where flying conditions are best,we should not be in a position to availourselves of such assistance, which will beof the utmost value.

    This, however, to our minds, is no

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 59argument for abandoning the principle thatin the early days of commercial flying, andon main routes, we should have landinggrounds so disposed _that at any momentwe are sure of making a safe descent.We must legislate not for the exceptionaloccasion but the general rule ; and thegeneral rule in commercial flying, whenspeed is everything, will weather per-mitting always be to go the shortest way.Therefore on the London-Paris route, totake a practical example, we think it willbe found that traffic will, in the majorityof cases, pass along a fixed and well-definedtrack.We are not prepared to argue thatwe shall always want a ten-mile chain oflanding grounds. Personally we think thatwe may not ; but we agree heartily that weshould have them to start with, and we areperfectly convinced that if we have themat all they should be arranged carefully ona well-devised scheme.

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    The cost of establishing an airway, inremote and thinly-populated districts, wouldnot only be far cheaper than a railway, butthe comparatively small cost of its main-tenance, when established, and its abilityto adapt itself exactly to fluctuating loads,should render it quite ideal. The train asa traffic unit is large ; therefore loads haveto be allowed to accumulate, and this is-apt to spell delay, a drawback which islikely to be aggravated when there is inter-mittent traffic with wrhich to deal. Butwith the aeroplane, thanks to its mobility,and to the fact that it is a small trafficunit, it is as easy to handle a small loadas a large one, or to carry twice as muchto-day as you did yesterday without anyconfusion or delay.

    This is where an airway will be sovaluable in serving any young and growingcommunity, overseas, which has been

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 61established, say, a hundred miles or so fromthe nearest rail-head. In such a case, onany given morning, if only enough trafficpresented itself to fill one aeroplane, thenthat one machine would be got awaypromptly, without having to wait for anyfurther load ; while, if mails and passengersshould arrive in sufficient quantities andnumbers to fill several machines, instead ofonly one, then these could be brought outand dispatched with an equal promptitude.Provided only the existence of a sufficientnumber of machines, you can carry threepeople on any given morning, or as manyas fifty, without any confusion or delay.

    The adaptability and mobility of an airservice should be of value in developed aswell as in undeveloped countries. It wouldbe perfectly feasible, for example, to organizebetween cities which are conveniently situ-ated a half-hourly service of aircraft; andin this way the business man, in additionto being carried by air at twice the speed

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    62 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSthat would be possible by land, would nothave to wait hours, as he often does now,after missing one train and before catchingthe next. It should be possible, indeed, toorganize a regular

    stream of aircraft betweenpopulous districts, each machine carryinga small number of passengers and a bagof mails and express parcels ; and if thetotal volume of traffic proved large, asdistributed over a network of aerial ways,and even when broken up as suggestedinto small loads, the operation of suchroutes should be made profitable.

    Not only in the matter of speed, there-fore, but also in its capacity to deal quicklywith a small and constantly-arriving streamof traffic, an airway should be able to givefacilities which would be impossible toobtain on a railway. Take, for example,two cities such as London and Birmingham :a fast aircraft carrying a few passengers anda bag of mails could make the journeybetween them in, say, a little over an hour.

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 63An express air service on a route like this,with machines leaving at frequent intervalsduring the whole of the business day, shouldfacilitate greatly not only the movementsof busy men, but also the exchange ofurgent letters, and other documents of im-portance. And such a route would, ofcourse, join up with services in other direc-tions. One assumes, in fact, a service link-ing up all the large business centres of thecountry. Therefore a business man, leavingLondon at an early hour in the morning,and travelling throughout by airway, shouldbe able in the future to visit a number ofcities during the course of a day, stayingonly just as long as is required in each, andalways finding, when he goes again to theaerodrome, that some machine is startingwhich will take him another stage uponhis journey. 1

    1 A frequent and rapid service of motor-cars,linking up aerodromes and cities, would be anessential feature of such a scheme.

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    64 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSIn a country like America the scopefor quick-service air traffic is practically

    limitless. The essential fact indeed to beremembered is that the establishment ofairways

    should permit a constant flow ofpassengers and mails between importantcities, and that this flow should go onpractically all day long, and not at certainfixed intervals, as is the case with trains.

    VThis new facility, when it is in full

    working order, should be revolutionary inits effect on business letter-writing. Thefixed principle, hitherto, has been to writeletters during the day and allow them toaccumulate until the evening, when theyare dispatched by the night mails and dis-tributed the next morning. This, so far,has proved generally satisfactory to thebusiness world, and none but very im-portant letters have been sent by express

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 65post at special fees. But the great tasksof reconstruction which now face us, andthe need which exists to make good asquickly as possible some of the mostobvious ravages of war, should make uswilling to adopt any new method whichwill expedite business transactions. Thehabit of allowing letters to accumulateshould be replaced by a system of postingthem at once, and having them transmittedby air so that they reach their destinationswithin a few hours of being written. It istrue that, at first, a fairly high fee wouldhave to be charged for the carriage of aletter by air ; but once an organization hasbeen built up, covering the whole country,and assuming reasonably large loads to beforthcoming, there is no reason why thecharges should not be reduced until theyare no more, or very little more, than thosecharged at normal times for land transport.

    If the air-mail system is adopted uni-versally, and if the majority of business

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    60 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSletters are dispatched by air practically assoon as they are written, reaching theirdestination in some cases almost as quicklyas a telegram does now, the effect on thewhole world of commerce should be ex-tremely important. A letter dispatchedin the ordinary way from London to Man-chester, on the evening of one day, reachesits delivery-point next morning, beingreplied to during the course of that day,the answer arriving in London on the thirdmorning. But the establishment of anexpress air-mail will permit a letter postedin London during the morning to reachits destination in Manchester about mid-day ; and, assuming the letter to be repliedto at once, the answer will be received inLondon well before the close of that samebusiness day. An extension of this systemthroughout the country would, in mostcases, ensure the saving of a clear day inthe exchange of business correspondence,as compared with the present system.

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 67A great point to be considered by anycompany operating an express air-mail is

    the possible delay on land connections..One must assume that, for a time at anyrate, aerodromes will be on the outskirtsof cities : therefore the mail must be takenout to the aerodrome of departure andbrought in again from the aerodrome ofarrival ; and unless this is done expedi-tiously, some of the advantages of a highair-speed may be lost. In the New York-Washington service fast motor-cycles areemployed ; and these, or light motor-vans,have obviously much to commend them.In time, however, we should find thataerodromes are connected with main PostOffices either by pneumatic tubes or bysome such system of miniature electricrailway, carrying mail-bags\in small trucks,as our Post Office authorities have beenconstructing under London from east towest, and which should now soon be inoperation. By an extension of this system,

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    68 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSin which mail-bags are transmitted at highspeed, the G.P.O. in London might beconnected directly with a dispatching aero-drome ; in which case the air-mail could besent from the Post Office right out on tothe flying ground in less than half-an-hour,

    VIAt this juncture readers may be inclinedto ask : " What about the question of bad

    weather ? What will be the use of yourbeing able to carry an express mail oneday, and then being prevented, perhaps forseveral days, from running a service owingto weather conditions ? Look at the in-convenience this might cause, and theconfusion which might arise when lettersconsigned by their senders to the aerialroute could not at the last moment becarried." This question raises clear issues,with which we shall deal.

    Firstly, in organizing an aerial trans-

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 69the basis of adverse weather. We mustorganize, in fact, for bad weather flying.A pilot on a fine day needs practically noorganization at all. He can leave Londonand fly to Paris, finding his way by mapand compass and visual observations, andbeing almost completely independent ofany assistance from the ground. But whenthere is cloud, mist, or fog, or when he isflying at night, his success in travelling toschedule, as a train does to its time-table,must depend mainly on the patience andthe perfection of the organization of theairway. Here there is one very importantfact which we, in the industry, must neverlose sight of. It will be in the early daysof commercial flying, when the public willbe watching results with a critical eye, thatno single detail of organization, howeversmall, can be omitted from the generalscheme of safeguards.

    It is always best, if one can, to bringa question like this to a practical issue;

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    70 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSand so we propose to take a multi-enginedpassenger craft, of the type now obtainable,and to see how weather conditions wouldaffect the flight of such a machine. Fineweather, naturally, we rule out of thequestion; we do not legislate for that,because it represents a condition in whichorganization is least required.


    VIINow to combat bad weather. Here it

    is necessary to define what we mean bybad weather. Ordinarily, and on such aroute as that between London and Paris,we mean high and gusty winds or heavyrains, or perhaps a combination of both.

    When we talk of bad weather, indeed, weusually mean a wet day or a windy day,or a day on which it is both wet andwindy. How would such conditions affecta big passenger machine such as we haveindicated? The answer is that neither

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 71wind nor rain would have any detrimentaleffect at all on the flight of the machine.What we mean, when we say this, is thatneither wind nor rain, nor both, would im-peril in any way the safety of the machine,or of its passengers, or prevent its reachingits destination. Of course, in a high wind,if it is a head wind, the flight of a machinewould be somewhat prolonged ; or in rainyweather, when there are banks of low-lyingcloud to be contended with, time mightbe lost in ascending to a higher altitudethan would ordinarily be necessary. Butthe point is that neither wind nor rain,unless the former attains the velocity of ahurricane, will have the power to suspendthe running of an air service, provided thatit is being conducted with suitable multi-engined machines.

    Naturally there is the question of delayto be considered, when a machine has tofly against a strong head-wind. But evenshould it be so delayed, it would, in almost

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    72 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSevery case, still show a very marked savingof time over land and sea travel.

    Taking a big machine driven by motorsdeveloping 1800 or 2000 horse-power, whichshould be capable of maintaining a speed of100 miles an hour, this would mean thatjmder favourable conditions, and reckoningthe distance by airway at 250 miles, thejourney between London and Paris wouldbe made in two hours and a half. Andeven assuming a head-wind as strong as40 miles an hour, blowing directly againstthe machine during the whole course ofits flight from London to Paris, the journeywould still be made in four hours insteadof in about seven or eight by land or sea.One must not forget, either, that in thereverse direction from Paris to London,a strong following wind might make itpossible to shorten the normal journey byan hour or more; with the result thatpassengers might on occasion make theirjourney between the two cities in as short

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 73a time as an hour and a half, or evenless.

    The point, however, is that neitherwind nor rain which are the two mostcommon forms of bad weather will haveanything more than a partially adverseeffect on the flight of such powerfulmachines as we are now able to build.Of course when the wind attains the vio-lence of a full gale, and the cross-Channelsteamer services have to be abandonedtemporarily, we must expect, at any ratefor a time, that our aerial services mayhave to be abandoned also. There areindeed absolutely abnormal weather con-ditions in which any form of service mustexpect to suffer some temporary interrup-tion. But it might be quite possible tofly to Paris on occasions when the Channelconditions make it not only extremely un-pleasant, but also dangerous, to cross bywater. And it is surely a most encouragingfact that, even within so short a space of

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    74 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSyears, the aeroplane should have ceasedaltogether to be a fine-weather machine,and should be capable of being navigatedsafely even through violent winds./

    VIIINow we come to our real weatherenemy fog. Here, however, we need tomake quite certain how far fog is reallya menace ; and this brings out at once thefact that, assuming there is the organizationwe shall describe, fog should not trouble usvery much, except at the moment of alight-ing after a flight. This is a great featurein favour of an airway, as compared witha railway. A railway train, in fog, hasto grope its way constantly through anobscured air ; it cannot, as can an air-craft, climb quickly through the fog-beltuntil it is above it, and then move aheadin perfectly clear air. On a foggy day.for instance, even if the fog should extendover a wide area on the London-Paris

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 75route, it would mean absolutely no delayat all in the actual travel of an aircraft,once it had cleared the fog-belt after leavingits starting-point. It must be rememberedalso that fog is almost always low-lying,and that in a thousand feet or so, as a rule,a machine would be in clear air. Andon a properly organized airway, with specialfog regulations in force as to the inwardand outward traffic at main aerodromes,there should be no risk of collision whilea machine was climbing through the fog;and, when it was above the fog, flyingwould, as we have indicated, be perfectlynormal. Nor would a pilot be embarrassedat all during the time he was climbing.His instruments would tell him all hewanted to know as to the inclinations ofhis machine ; while wireless and othersignals would inform him whether hiscourse ahead was clear.

    It may be asked : " Doesn't he run arisk of losing his way, or of deviating from

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    76 OUR FIRST AIRWAYShis course, if he flies for several hourswithout being able to see a landmark?"The answer is that he would not, providedhe was aided by organization. By sendingup kite balloons along an aerial route,which will fly conspicuously above thefog-belt as shown by the illustration facingthis page and also by the aid of directionalwifeless, it now becomes perfectly feasible,even if a pilot has to fly for hours withoutseeing any landmark, to keep him withaccuracy on any given course.

    The chief risk lies in the alighting ofa machine should an aerodrome be obscuredby fog. Here the problem for an airway,as for a railway, is to illuminate the fog.What we must have is a system of illumi-nation which will throw light beams up-ward through the fog and which a pilotcan see as soon as he passes down fromclear air into the upper layers of the fog.The main question here, with rays pro-jected from searchlights showing vertically

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 77upward, is one which is familiar to studentsof such problems the difficulty being toobtain a ray which will penetrate through afog, and will not be dispersed and dissipatedwhen it impinges on the thick masses ofthe fog. Assuming, however, that we havethe best form of light available, it shouldbe possible to indicate the contour of theaerodrome by means of half-a-dozen ,ofthesis searchlight rays, each pointing ver-tically upward. Then a pilot, having flownabove the fog until he reached the aerodromeon which he had to descend, and beingable to locate its position by means ofthe guiding balloon riding above it, woulddescend gradually into the fog until hecaught sight of the searchlight rays. Roundthese he would then circle, reducing hisaltitude by degrees, and estimating hisheight above ground level by means of hisinstruments. Then, when he had got lowenough, he would turn in between any twoof the searchlights and make his descent

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    78 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSsomething in the middle of the aerodromea manoeuvre he might accomplish quitesafely, when he had become familiar withthe general lie of the ground, without evenhaving caught a glimpse of the actualsurface on which he was alighting. Ageneral impression of such a scheme oflighting is to be obtained from the picturefacing this page, which suggests also how apilot might be helped in his descent throughthe upper layers of the fog by searchlightsshining downward from the kite balloon,and also at intervals from a cable suspendedfrom the balloon. This whole question offog is, as a matter of fact, fairly simple.The only real problem which still remainsis to assist the pilot when he requires tomake a landing through heavily-obscured air.What we should like to represent verystrongly is that, on a well-organized airway,we should in some respects be in a betterposition to combat fog than is a railway;and we do not believe that, except in

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 79extreme cases, an air service should be in-terrupted seriously by fog. It should bepointed out, also, that there is a possibilitywith an air service of doing somethingwhich is quite impossible with a railway ;and that is to make a detour completelyround any localized belt ; of fog. It mighthappen that, whereas one aerodrome wasshrouded in fog, another only a few milesaway would be in comparatively clear air ;and in such a case it would be perfectlyfeasible to transfer traffic temporarily fromone aerodrome to another.We have now dealt with wind, rain,and fog; but there still remains snow.

    Should there be a heavy snowfall over anaerodrome, traffic might certainly be sus-pended temporarily ; but here again, havingregard to what one may call the elasticityof an air service, there should be no diffi-culty about transferring the arrival anddeparture of machines to some neighbouringground, where conditions were less adverse.

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    80 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSIXAn interesting point, arising in connec-

    tion with fog, is that research might nowbe directed to attempting the dispersal ofa fog over the limited area of a flyingground. Railways have considered thismatter; but their problem is, of course,much more difficult. They have greatareas which they must clear of fog ; where-as on an airway it would be necessary onlyto clear just the spaces where machineshave to land. If some such system canbe evolved, and if it is not too expensive,it should be possible to keep main aero-dromes free from fog, and so remove, ata stroke, practically all the drawbacks sofar as an air service is concerned.

    It has been stated, more than once,that the fog which lies so often on theAmerican side of the Atlantic would bea serious drawback in any trans-ocean airservice ; and so indeed it might be, were

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 81it not for the power which wireless tele-graphy now confers upon the aviator.With this marvel of science to help him,he will be directed across the 3000 milesof the Atlantic just as readily, and justas accurately, as from London to Paris.Probably, in a trans-ocean service, it willbe found advisable at any rate at firstto establish one or two sea-stations enroute. These will be very large ships ofspecial design, with deck-room sufficient fora machine to alight upon them. It maybe found desirable, in commercial work-ing, even though a machine can carrysufficient petrol and oil, in additionto the weight of its passengers andcrew, to do the entire trans-ocean journeywithout alighting, to make perhaps twostops en route to pick up fuel, andfor the reason that this would enable amachine to start its flight with fuel sayfor 1000 miles flying, instead of for over3000, and this saving of weight could be

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    82 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSemployed usefully in the extra accommoda-tion of passengers, mails, or baggage.With directional wireless, still furtherperfected as it will be, there should be nodifficulty at all for a pilot in steeringaccurately across the Atlantic to each ofthe sea-stations provided for him. Hewould be in constant touch with them bywireless, and they could indicate to himtheir position so accurately that he wouldbe able to fly directly on a line to them,even if he had to rely on these signalsalone, and had no other means of correct-ing his course. And when approachingthe American coast, say under conditionspf fog, the pilot would take his machinewell up into clear air and would then relyentirely on wireless to bring him along tothe end of his journey.

    It is a wonderful tribute to science tobe able to say, as is possible now, that ifone anchored a ship right out in themiddle of the wide Atlantic, and then sent

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 88up an aeroplane say from London, thatthis ship, by means of wireless signals, andby nothing else, could guide that aero-plane across a vast track of water and bringit with absolute accuracy just to thatone tiny spot on the ocean's surface ; andthis even in spite of fog, mist, cloud, orwind. It would seem miraculous to anyoccupant of the machine who did not under-stand the method employed ; but it can bedone, and will be done, not merely as aninteresting experiment, but as a matter ofroutine,

    Directional wireless, so far as long non-stop, commercial flights are concerned,will provide just the one thing needed toovercome the difficulty pilots may en-counter through the fact that they arehigh in the air and may be unableperhaps for some time to make anyvisual observation of the earth belowsuch as would help them to correct their

    course, and warn them of

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    84 OUR FIRST AIRWAYSdeviation they had made. With this newwonder of science to aid him, a pilot needno longer grope his way uncertainly abovea belt of cloud, or embark with any un-easiness on a long flight across water :practically at any moment, and as oftenas he likes, he will be able to pick up theseinvisible signals which come to him out ofthe air ; and, by means of special receiversin his machine which by a variation inthe strength of the signals received tell himwhen he is veering from his course it willbe possible for him immediately to divinehis position in relation to the earth below.

    XThese two great inventions, then, when

    they are used in combination that is to saywireless and the conquest of the air willbe sufficient in the years to come to revolu-tionize all our notions of distance and oftime. We shall find ourselves in a new

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    OUR FIRST AIRWAYS 85world so far as travel is concerned. To-day it is possible to transmit words forimmense distances in an extraordinarilybrief space of time ; but when men them-selves travel they still find it a tediousbusiness, even in a fast ship or an expresstrain. Now, however, as we enter on theage of aerial transport, we shall find thatwhat telegraphy did for the transmissionof the written word, with all the develop-ments which followed it, so flying willdo in regard to the transit of the humanbody from place to place.

    The extraordinary speed of aerial travel,with all that it will imply, will have agreater influence on the world, probably,than any of the eras which have precededit ; and it is again a comfort to think thatthis influence will be so entirely for good,and that the more flying can be developedthe less grav