M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
Deleted by request of (c)Schiffer Publishing
P.Lewis British Aircraft 1809-1914 (Putnam)
Cody British Army Aeroplane No. 1
At the same time as the trials of the Dunne tailless biplane were under way at Blair Atholl, S. F. Cody, the Royal Engineers' kiting instructor at the Army Balloon Factory and a colleague of Lt. Dunne, was developing the Factory's idea of a man-carrying powered aircraft.
Construction of the British Army Aeroplane No. 1, as it was soon designated, was initiated towards the end of 1907 and under conditions of secrecy equalling those surrounding the Dunne activities. Strenuous efforts were made to keep prying eyes from the area of the Factory at Farnborough, but, once the machine had to be brought into the open for ground testing as a preliminary to flight, it was hopeless to attempt to conceal it any longer. Particularly was this brought home, as the extent of the Factory's land was, at that time, comparatively small. Rumours that an aeroplane was being built had been circulating in the Press at the same time as the reports of the poor progress being made with the airship Nulli Secundus 1.
When the Cody machine was revealed finally it was seen to be mainly Wright-derived in its general lay-out, but exhibited several features of its own. The biplane wings had a span of 52 ft., a chord of 7 ft 6 ins. and were set with an 8 ft. gap between them. The controlling elevator was borne ahead of the mainplanes by booms, while further booms carried the rudder at the rear; a small additional rudder was fitted at the centre-line above the upper wings. The entire aeroplane was supported on the ground by a pair of main wheels, augmented by a smaller wheel aft and one mounted on short struts ahead of each lower wing-tip. Ailerons were fitted initially on the front outer interplane struts, well down in the gap, and were transferred afterwards to the rear of the tips. Perhaps the most unusual feature of the aircraft was its horizontal, fantail-shaped surface of unstiffened canvas which stretched from near the mid-way point of the upper trailing-edges to the top of the rear rudder-post.
Col. J. E. Capper's original intention was that Cody should use for power a 50 h.p. Panhard-Levassor engine which was available in March, 1908, but which broke down on test. Shortage of funds precluded the acquisition of any new engines, and Cody was forced to wait until the eight-cylinder 50 h.p. Antoinette, which had been used in the Nulli Secundus 1, was made available to him. This happened at the beginning of September, 1908, following the abandonment of the Nulli Secundus 2, to which the Antoinette had been transferred. The airframe was complete and, with the engine installed in the front of the nacelle, all was ready for the trials of the British Army Aeroplane No. 1 to commence. Twin propellers mounted between the wings were driven by flat belts, the pilot being seated in the nacelle behind the engine. It: was possible for the camber of the wings to be altered on the ground by means of a screw adjustment.
On Saturday, 19th September, 1908, the machine was hauled to Jersey Brow, a small plateau West of the Factory. The site was too small for flight to be attempted, but quite suitable for engine running, which was carried out at dusk. Two days later, on 21st September, Cody commenced to taxi, reaching 15-20 m.p.h. before the biplane was slightly damaged in a minor collision. After a break for three days, the machine made four or five taxying tests on Laffan's Plain on 24th September and described small circles on Farnborough Common on 28th of the same month. On 29th September the wheels left the ground for a short hop of 234 ft., and a pause then ensued for several alterations to be made. Two weeks passed, during which the ailerons were discarded, as Cody considered them to be unnecessary, the canvas fantail was increased again in area following an earlier reduction in size, and the original vee-shaped radiator was divided into two slim separate panels set vertically one on each side of the engine. The landing-gear received an addition in the form of a single raised wheel at the front. The lower outriggers, which extended forward to the elevator, were removed and a pair of booms were substituted from the lower planes' leading-edges at the front of the nacelle upwards to meet at the elevator.
On 13th October Press photographers were admitted within the Factory precincts to photograph and describe the machine. The day after, on 14th October, the aeroplane was brought out again and, during the three or more tests which ensued on Farnborough Common, Cody managed on one of them to cover 200 ft. at an altitude of 10 ft. Finding himself so high in the air, he felt it wise to terminate the test and brought the machine down quickly to the ground.
Another day passed until, on Friday, 16th October, 1908, conditions were considered to be good enough for an attempt at a real flight. After several trial runs, during which he left the ground for about 150 ft. while taxying uphill to Swan Inn Plateau on Farnborough Common, Cody took off to make the first recognized powered and sustained flight in Great Britain, covering a distance of 1,390 ft. at a height of 30 ft. in 27 sees, at a speed of 25-30 m.p.h. The biplane sustained some damage when it crashed on landing at the end of the flight; the remaining weeks of the year were spent in repairs and important alterations.
In the reconstruction the same 52 ft. span wings were used, but the gap was increased to 9 ft. The booms carrying the main control surfaces were extended so that the rear rudder was 12 ft. to the rear and the 20 ft. elevator was 12 ft. ahead of the mainplanes. The upper rudder was brought down from the top wing to a new position behind the elevator. Lateral control was revived in the form of two independently-operating ailerons which were added one on each side of the elevator, and also in auxiliary wing- warping. The ailerons were supported by additional struts from each wing- tip. The fantail horizontal surface was dispensed with completely and the radiators were moved back to the rear inboard struts. The wheels on the wing-tips were mounted direct on to the ends of the leading-edges, and a pair of larger propellers utilized the Antoinette's power.
The British Army Aeroplane No. 1 reappeared on Farnborough Common on 6th January, 1909. In order to observe the airflow, a number of ribbon streamers were attached to the airframe at various points and the aircraft again flaunted a Union Jack between the rear booms. A trial run on the ground proved satisfactory, but the tests were suspended by high winds until 9th January when a short hop of 60 ft. was made but which was sufficient to indicate faulty balance. This was rectified by moving the radiators forward in front of the rear inboard struts. The ailerons were brought back from their forward position to a new place midway up the rearmost outer interplane struts.
At 11 a.m. on 20th January, 1909, Cody took off and flew in the direction of the Balloon Factory for about 1,200 ft. at 25 ft. height, but crashed from 10 ft. after making a sharp turn. He was unhurt and the aircraft underwent some more alterations, which comprised the complete removal of the ailerons and the addition of a biplane tail in front of the rear rudder. After nearly a month in the Factory, the machine came out again on 18th February for a short flight of a few hundred yards. Upon landing, a tyre burst and a wire snapped, but, after repairs, successful flights of 600 ft. and 1,200 ft. were achieved at a height of 10 ft. on 22nd February.
Once again, alterations were made when the biplane tail was discarded, the ailerons were re-installed on outriggers behind the wing-tips at mid-gap, the front rudder was mounted on top of the fore-elevator and was coupled to the new twin side-by-side rear rudders, and the radiators were set behind the front inboard struts.
During April, 1909, the aeroplane was presented to Cody by the War Office when he decided to leave the Balloon Factory.
14th May, 1909, was a notable day, as Cody managed to fly over one mile from Laffan's Plain to Danger Hill at a height of 30 feet, thus setting up the first British records for duration and for distance in a straight line. Later the same day, while trying to repeat the performance before the Prince of Wales, the machine crashed and broke its tail when avoiding some troops. Further changes were decided upon. The radiators were moved forward so that they were in front of the front inboard struts, a single rear rudder took the place of the twin surfaces, and the rear landing wheel was replaced by a long, curved wooden skid.
Another flight was made on 18th June, with Cody covering 1.5 miles over Laffan's Plain at 25 m.p.h. and making three turns on the way. On 21st July, he completed a circular flight of 4 miles, but considered that extra power was required and installed accordingly a 60 h.p. E.N.V. "F" engine. At the same time, the pilot's seat was moved forward so thai it was in front of the new engine, and the ailerons were mounted mid-way between the wing-tips on the outer interplane struts.
On 11th August, 1909, Cody flew for 3 miles and on 13th August completed several long flights. The machine was now flying successfully, and its pilot had gained sufficient experience and control with it to consider taking passengers, so, on Saturday, 14th August, Col. J. E. Capper, the Balloon Factory Superintendent, was taken for a 2-mile flight. On the same day, Mrs. Cody was taken up for a 3-mile flight to gain the honour of being the first woman in Great Britain to leave the ground in an aeroplane. Cody was now well into his stride, making four cross-country flights and a circuit of Aldershot at 100 feet. On 8th September, 1909, he covered over 40 miles in a trip around Laffan's Plain which took 63 minutes and reached a height of 600 feet. The following day, on 9th September. Cody took up separately five passengers, including Capt. P. W. L. Broke-Smith, R.E.. Capt. A. D. Carden, R.E., and Capt."King.
A further alteration was made with the mounting of the radiator above the E.N.V. engine. On 11th September, the machine was demonstrated before the Empress Eugenie, and three clays later, on 14th September, there was a slight mishap when Cody was thrown from the seat during a landing. On 27th September. Mrs. J. E. Capper became the first British woman to fly in an aeroplane when Cody took her for a long flight over Laffan's Plain.
During the following month, Cody's biplane appeared at the flying meeting held at Doncaster from 15th until 23rd October, 1909. In the course of the meeting Cody became a British subject and decided to enter at once for the ?1.000 Daily Mail prize for the first all-British circular flight of one mile. He was unlucky to run into a patch of sand which caused the machine to nose over, so, for the rest of the meeting he made short, straight flights along the course before the grandstand. Some two months later, on 29th December, 1909, Cody attempted to win the prize of ?1,000 offered by Sir John Hartley for a flight from Liverpool to Manchester but was forced down by fog at Eccleston after covering 13 miles in 19 minutes.
Description: Two-seat pusher biplane. Wooden structure, fabric covered.
Manufacturers: Army Balloon Factory, South Farnborough, Hants.
Power Plant: 50 h.p. Antoinette, 60 h.p. E.N.V. "F".
Dimensions: Span, 52 ft. Wing area, 790 sq. ft.
Weights: Empty, 2,260 lb. Loaded, 2,540 lb.
Performance: Maximum speed, 40 m.p.h.
P.Hare Royal Aircraft Factory (Putnam)
S F Cody, meanwhile, following his period of involvement with the airship Nulli Secundus, had been away demonstrating his man-lifting kites to the Royal Navy, in the unfulfilled hope that they, too, would decide to purchase his system. He returned to Farnborough on 6 September 1908 to supervise completion of the machine which had been officially titled British Army Aeroplane No 1, but which showed the unmistakable hand of Cody in its design. The construction of this aeroplane had been proceeding sporadically since the previous November, in whatever time Cody had been able to spare from his numerous other duties. Now, perhaps spurred on by the purchase of a replacement 50hp Antoinette engine, and by a desire to beat Dunne, work on the aeroplane progressed rapidly, and by the 19 September it was sufficiently complete to be taken out for engine tests. Taxying trials, made two days later in a clearing near the Factory, revealed that the machine was nose heavy, but ended suddenly when a wingtip struck a post and was slightly damaged. This was soon repaired, and ground trials recommenced on the 24th, this time on Laffan's Plain where there was far more space, although the surface was poorer.
At one point, during further taxying trials on 30 September, Cody became aware of a brief pause in the vibration, and a subsequent examination of the machine's wheel tracks revealed that it had left the ground for a short distance. Although Cody dismissed this as 'only a jump', it was a genuine take-off and a positive step towards powered flight. Unfortunately further tests had to be postponed, as Cody was required to return to Portsmouth to conclude his kiting demonstrations for the Royal Navy. He returned to Farnborough in time to resume trials with the aeroplane on 14 October, some modifications intended to reduce drag and improve the pilots' view having been carried out during his absence. On this occasion two more short hops were made, each of about fifty yards, at a height of eight to ten feet.
On 16 October British Army Aeroplane No 1 was taken out again, and, while taxying at speed in order to climb a slope, Cody made yet another 'jump' of some seventy-five yards. Then, starting near to the south-eastern corner of Farnborough Common, close to the Swan Inn plateau, Cody set off towards the north-west and, after a ground run of some sixty yards, took off and flew at a height of approximately thirty feet until he was forced to turn to avoid a clump of trees. During this manoeuvre the tip of the port wing made contact with the ground and the flight ended in a crash, with considerable damage to the port wings. Fortunately, Cody was completely unhurt.
This flight, now officially recognised as the first sustained and controlled powered aeroplane flight in Great Britain, covered more than a quarter of a mile and lasted twenty-seven seconds (an airspeed of 35mph).
The next day's edition of The Times carried a full account of the flight under the headline 'The Army Aeroplane - Accident at Farnborough', and totally ignored the real significance of the event. Thus were Cody and the Balloon Factory deprived of the public recognition their joint achievement deserved.
Capper's report to Whitehall, written on the day of the flight, was equally unenthusiastic, concentrating upon the accident and the resultant damage rather than upon the significance of the flight itself. It ended with the words, 'I do not propose to abandon trials of this machine'. Perhaps Capper was a little disappointed that his protege, Lt Dunne, had not been the first to fly. Whatever his reasons for this unnecessarily negative attitude, Capper's report, coupled with his suggestion that more space was required for aeroplane experiments than existed at Farnborough, was the first step towards a conclusion which must have been the last thing he wanted.
British Army Aeroplane No 1 was repaired, a number of small modifications being incorporated at the same time, and flight trials resumed in January 1909, this time on the slightly less restricted ground of nearby Laffan's Plain. These trials included the attachment of numerous streamers to various points on the machine's surfaces to show the airflow.
Cody, an accomplished horseman, quickly developed his piloting skills, making numerous flights, often close to the ground, to explore the machine's control responses. Dunne, meanwhile, continued his experiments, still confident that his was the superior design and that he, too, would achieve true powered flight and eventually overtake his rival.
Then came a setback.
Flight, January 16, 1909
British Army Aeroplane "Flies" 20 Yards.
PILOTED by Mr. Cody, the British Army aeroplane succeeded, on Saturday, January 9th, in "flying" a matter of 20 yards on the Farnborough Common. During the course of its brief flight it attained an altitude of about 10 feet, but at no time did the machine look very happy in the air, for it was obviously too heavy in the stern. This, according to Mr. Cody, was due to the arrangement of the condensers behind the pilot, and he anticipates that when they are shifted forward he will be able to make a more successful effort.
We publish this week two very interesting photographs of the machine taken on the occasion of its trials on Saturday. One shows the aeroplane, which measures over 51 feet span, being drawn to the seat of operations, and the other shows it in the air at a very sharp angle to the ground.
Flight, February 27, 1909
THE BRITISH ARMY AEROPLANE.
SOME IMPRESSIONS AND COMPARISONS.
AFTER a period of enforced retirement, brought about by the disastrous termination of a previous trial flight, the British Army aeroplane was again taken from its shed on Thursday of last week, February 18th, and some brief, but by no means uninteresting experiments were carried out on Laffan's Plain. It was not until the afternoon that the doors of the great balloon shed at South Farnborough were moved slowly and laboriously back along their guides, to expose a yawning cavern, out of which emerged, equally slowly, a diminutive white machine. Diminutive, that is, by comparison with its enormous house, for the British Army aeroplane is, as a matter of fact, a large machine, and once away from its shed-which is, of course, the rightful habitation of "Nulli Secundus " - its full dimensions can be better appreciated. It had been intended to make a trial flight in the morning, for the dawn was calm, but as the day grew older, so did a breeze spring up; and although the casual observer might have been pardoned for supposing that the conditions were perfect, as was the weather, the authorities very properly considered that it was useless to take risks until they knew more about the handling of their machine. This decision may savour somewhat of the old chestnut about not going into the water before learning to swim, but, as a matter of fact, in the present stage of flight the art of learning how is almost as great as that of the art of flying itself. Being pitched overboard in a storm may be a very effective method of making a practical acquaintance with the water; but, just as most people would prefer to learn to swim in a calm sea, so do most aviators prefer to learn to fly on a still day. Of course, there is this fundamental difference, that whereas man can swim with his unencumbered body, he cannot possibly fly without the aid of a machine; and at first glance there would seem to be a closer analogy between flight and seamanship of the racing yachtsman than between flight and swimming. But from whichever point of view the situation be regarded, it seems to us very necessary never to overlook the important part which the individual sense of control possessed by the aviator may have in the mastery of the air with any particular machine. It may be possible ultimately to build a machine that will practically fly by itself, so to speak; but it seems reasonable to suppose that such an invention will only be brought about by an appreciation of innumerable little details which can only be revealed to those who set themselves the undoubtedly difficult task of learning to fly with the cruder machines which the brain of man is able to evolve ab initio.
Such evidence as has so far been afforded offers no grounds for supposing that the British Army aeroplane has any particular claim to belong to the category of what what might be styled the "self-flyers," but on the other hand we can see no particular reason to take a despondent view of its ultimate capabilities of flight. As a type, the British Army aeroplane is not unlike the Wright flyer, or rather it was not, until the latest addition of a small tail - formed by the superposition of the two planes which were formerly on either side of the elevator in front - removed it to a class of its own. On theoretical grounds - so far as there is any theory worth applying in these matters -- this modification should result in an increase of the automatic longitudinal stability, on the grounds that if the machine tips fore and aft, the action of the wind upon the tail has a self-righting effect, whereas if there is no such horizontal surface at the rear, but only an elevator in front, the apparent automatic effect attributable to the presence of the latter surface is that of exaggerating any initial departure from an even keel.
It is, of course, a feature - it might almost be said the feature - of the Wright machine, that it has no tail, and it is mainly for this reason that it is commonly supposed that the art of using it in the early days of apprenticeship is greater than is the case with the Voisin aeroplane, which has a very fully-developed empennage. That the Wright machine can be flown satisfactorily by anyone who knows how, the Wrights themselves have shown to all the world, and that the difficulties are not great in themselves, may presumably be judged from the fact that Wilbur Wright has undertaken to make his three pupils proficient. Since the British Army aeroplane now has a tail, it can no longer be classed in the same category as the Wright aeroplane, nor can it justly be said to be similar to the Voisin aeroplane on that account, for the Voisin machines have essentially a larger tail, situated at a proportionally greater distance from the main surfaces. Various views have been expressed as to the utility of such a big tail, and although it seems to be admitted that it has very considerable steadying effects, which is said to largely account for the comparatively rapid progress which untaught beginners make with these machines, it is also said to materially impede the rising qualities of the machine as a whole during the operation of starting a flight. The presence of a comparatively small tail on the British Army aeroplane, therefore, gives an individuality to this machine which makes its trials all the more interesting.
The British Army aeroplane, in common with other biplanes, has an elevator in front and a rudder behind; but in addition to the latter there is a rudder in front also, and the two members work in unison. At present the tail is fixed, but later, experiments may be carried out with this member mounted on hinges, so that it can be worked in unison with the front elevator. If this is done it would of course afford an opportunity for carrying out comparative tests with the elevator and tail working in the same and contrary senses. If the front edges of both tail and elevator were to be raised simultaneously, the effect anticipated would obviously be the bodily lifting of the machine on an even keel, whereas if the tail were dipped while the elevator is tilted, so that both sets of planes are tangent to a common circle, the effect should be a rapid and immediate rise on an inclined keel to a higher altitude. Since the last accident, the outrigger framing carrying the elevator - which gave way in midair - has been strengthened by an additional pair of bamboo members.
There are not wanting, by the score, adverse critics of our army aeroplane, but it is surely early days to make disparaging comments on machines which are designed to achieve such an unknown quantity as flight. It is also equally absurd to suppose that Colonel Capper and his men are not doing their level best to win the day as quickly as may be, and it must at least be admitted that Mr. Cody very cheerfully risks his own neck in furthering their common object. They are conducting their trials under conditions which are certainly far from convenient; in fact, they are unfairly difficult. They are handicapped for funds and that apparently to such an extent that they cannot even afford to build a shed on a ground which is suitable to practise flight. The workshop facilities at the balloon factory at South Farnborough may doubtless be a great advantage in the constructional Stages, but it would surely be an economy of time and labour to have the machine installed on the aerodrome during its trials. The nearest ground of any pretensions to decent surface and reasonable extent around the balloon factory is Laffan's Plain, and to get the aeroplane transferred there not only occupies a small squad of men and a couple of horses the better part of an hour, but is attended with such risks of damage to the machine from the innumerable bushes, trees, posts, and fences which have to be negotiated, that it is almost a wonder that the machine ever arrives intact. Certainly it is entirely due to the smartness and alertness of the Royal Engineers belonging to this section that the feat is accomplished. As an instance of the difficulties of the task, it is interesting to recall the performance of a man who played "outside right" in charge of that wing of the aeroplane during its transit from the shed to the plain. He never left go of the bicycle wheel which is attached to the lower plane, yet he had to go through a thick furze bush, climb two fences without the use of his hands, and jump a ditch, in order to manoeuvre his part of the machine to safety. Such performances as this may be all very well when regarded as field drill, but from the point of view of preparing for a trail flight, it seems a little unnecessary; moreover, the state of the wind may change materially in a very short time, and it is quite conceivable that a trial might be thereby frustrated before it could even be commenced.
Laffan's Plain itself is by no means an ideal aerodrome either. It may be as good as the majority this country can produce, but there is very little doubt that the authorities were well advised to build a slow-speed machine for use there. The British Army aeroplane is large, and it looks perhaps somewhat unwieldy, but Thursday's trials showed that it has an undoubted capacity for getting off the ground very nicely while travelling at quite a moderate rate of speed, and that it does not, therefore, run undue risks of being damaged while starting.
From a constructional point of view, flying machines of this kind will essentially appeal in different ways to the mechanical and unmechanical mind. The latter is inclined to argue, why have so many wires and stays all over the place, which get in the way and are so liable to be broken? There certainly are a great number of these members, but the engineer knows very well that it would be dangerous to leave out a few of them lest the others should break of their own accord. Our readers will doubtless remember that it was because of the inevitable wires that M. Esnault Pelterie decided to adopt a monoplane as a practical flyer after he had experimented with a Wright glider. Different engineers would doubtless have constructed such a machine as the army biplane on different systems, some using one material and some another, but it is questionable whether there would be a vast difference in the results. Possibly it might be preferable to use built-up hollow wood spars instead of bamboo poles for the outriggers, but questions of this sort are very largely influenced by finance, and it is therefore very difficult to find any just cause for that adverse criticism which has occasionally been directed against the British Army machine. Readers of our first article of the series "How Men Fly," will be interested to learn that the petrol-tank and all the struts between the two decks of the aeroplane have a torpedoshaped section, with the blunt edge facing forwards.
In view of the unpropitious state of the wind, it was not intended, when the machine was taken out for the first time on Thursday, to make any attempt at an extensive flight with it, but two short flights were nevertheless accomplished, as incidental to the trials of the machine over the ground; and although quite short in duration, and carried out at an altitude of only a foot or so from the ground, they were far from being devoid of interest. From the spectator's point of view, the second of the two flights was the more important of the two, inasmuch as the machine was then approaching head-on against the wind. For a while it sailed along on an even keel, and without rolling in the least, but gradually the right wing rose higher than the left, until it seemed that the latter must certainly strike the ground and be wrecked. Just before landing, however, the machine partially righted itself and thus avoided any further damage beyond the bursting of a tyre on the outer wheel.
The impression which we received from watching the machine heel over was that it was being subjected to an uprising current of air, which had caught the right wing first, and thereafter continued to slowly but steadily upset the balance by its direct pressure. This is, of course, merely an impression received by watching the action of the machine; and we base it largely on the fact that the heeling over seemed to take place comparatively slowly, and in such a way that, had one been alongside the machine at the time, one would have felt tempted to pull the wing downwards by force.
There are, attached to the front edges of the lower planes, near their outer ends, righting sails, which take the place of the pivoted tips employed on some of the monoplanes; they are intended to act in the same way as warping the main planes themselves does on the Wright aeroplane. These sails are sheets of canvas, which normally lie flush with the surface of the planes, but can be inclined by lifting their rear edges as occasion requires. We cannot, of course, say what actual effect the operation of these sails may have had on the occasion in question, nor to what extent they were used for the purpose of righting the machine, but it seems to us that - taking into consideration their relatively small area in proportion to that of the total supporting surface, and having regard to the apparent slow velocity of the machine through the air - they could not well have been very effective under such circumstances; that is to say, assuming that the machine was indeed under the influence of a current of air having an upward trend. In a machine travelling at a relatively high velocity through the air, righting tips are doubtless all that is required, because the speed of the machine is such as to always leave enough virtual positive velocity to make them effective. With a slow-speed machine, however, it appears to us that the problem may be more complicated, inasmuch as changes in the direction of the air current may have a much greater effect. If, for instance, one end of an aeroplane is subjected to a relatively direct upward thrust at a time when the velocity of the machine as a whole through the air is not sufficient to make the righting tips effective, it naturally becomes a matter of import to consider whether some more positive and direct-acting means of restoring lateral equilibrium should not be experimented with. Possibly such difficulties as we have suggested may, if they are found to exist, be overcome by an arrangement of planes, and this would naturally seem preferable to any resort to moving weights; but in the meantime it certainly does seem desirable that some attempt should be made to observe the nature of the air currents during flight, in order that a little more may be known of the conditions under which failure alternates with success. While the British Army aeroplane is enforced to remain at South Farnborough, and those at work upon it are thereby restricted in the way that they are at present, it is, we fear, impossible to expect any really rapid progress of a permanent character; and it is to be earnestly hoped that means may be found whereby those at work on it may be placed in a position to keep in the van of progress, lest greater national expense be incurred in the future, when it may become imperative to make up leeway.
Flight, May 22, 1909.
BRITISH AEROPLANE AND AIRSHIP.
Mr. Cody Flies a Mile.
ON the 14th inst. Mr. S. F. Cody, on the discarded Army aeroplane, succeeded in making a really good flight, and set up a new record for Great Britain by flying for a mile, reaching an altitude of 30 feet. On the previous day three short flights were made with a view to seeing that one or two improvements which had been made by Mr. Cody worked satisfactorily, and in view of the results Mr. Cody determined on making a great effort on the following morning. About ten o'clock the motor was started, and after a few short runs over the ground Mr. Cody started from one end of Laffan's Plain, and flew right to the other end and beyond to Danger Hill, where he alighted without mishap. News of the success quickly spread, and reached the Prince and Princess of Wales, who were attending the manoeuvres at Aldershot. In the afternoon the Prince asked Mr. Cody if he would make another flight, and he once more took to the air. Unfortunately, however, in making a turn to avoid some troops, after flying for about 200 yards, the aeroplane was caught by a sudden gust of wind and driven against an embankment, damaging some of the rear framework. The damage done was not very serious, and the Prince expressed to Mr. Cody his pleasure at having seen a British aeroplane that could fly.
Flight, August 14, 1909.
MR. CODY FLIES AGAIN.
ON Wednesday evening Mr. S. F. Cody succeeded in making three very good flights over Laffan's Plain. Since its last appearance the flyer has undergone a good deal of rearrangement and the motor now fitted is an 80-h.p. E.N.V. The first flight was about one and a half miles, during which Laffan's Plain was encircled and the aviator returned to his starting point. Two further flights of similar length were made, but in the last the machine just touched the earth in turning. The flight aroused a good deal of interest in the Territorial Camp, over which Mr. Cody passed in the course of his trips.
One of the principal alterations in the aeroplane is the shifting of the aviator's seat to the front of the motor. This has improved the balance of the machine and Mr. Cody now thinks he could carry two passengers easily.
Flight, August 21, 1909.
THE CODY FLYER.
AT the present moment, when the eyes of the world are directed to the scintillating progress of the aviators on the Continent, S. F. Cody alone shines as a flying star above British soil. His work as a Government servant in the construction and use of what was originally the British Army flyer has been most painstaking, and there is not a man in the country but should feel genuine pleasure at the large measure of success which has now come to reward his labours. What Cody has already done is little compared with what he may reasonably be expected to accomplish now that he is well on the road to victory, and that, again, is a mere nothing compared with what the pilot himself enthusiastically and confidently hopes to achieve.
The flyer, although belonging to the category of tailless biplanes, in reality belongs to a class apart, for it is by far the largest and heaviest machine with which successful flights have yet been accomplished. It embodies much originality in design, and not a little, we believe, of Mr. Cody's own handicraft, for, like the genuine enthusiast that he is, he lives alongside his beloved machine and makes himself personally responsible for its every detail. Many of these latter, too, are the objects of impending patents, and for this reason we are not at liberty to disclose their nature. One of them, for instance, is hidden behind the canvas bag which will be observed immediately below Mr. Cody's feet in the accompanying excellent photograph of the central portion of the machine.
This view, which really shows the most interesting part of the flyer, illustrates two of the more conspicuously original features in the design, these being the construction of the chassis and the arrangement of the seats. The chassis, according to the photograph, is apparently a three-wheeled affair, but in reality the machine is intended to travel over the ground on the main pair of wheels only, any lack of balance being checked in front by the temporary action of the leading wheel, and behind by a laminated wood skid, which depends like a kangaroo's tail from the rear of the main frame. Further use of the leading wheel is of course to take the shock of striking an obstacle, and it needs no more than a glance at the photograph to realize how very massive and strong is the pyramid-like construction of the outrigger on which it is supported. This same triangular system of construction is in evidence elsewhere also, another notable instance being the principal wood members which slope up to the top deck on either side of the pilot and his passenger. It is to these members that the lower booms of the bamboo outrigger, which carries the elevator and front rudder, are fastened by metal clips. Mr. Cody is one of the few constructors who have placed any faith in bamboo, but inspection of the photograph will reveal the important detail that he takes the precaution of binding the bamboo between each joint to prevent the splitting to which bamboo is liable. The main struts throughout the machine have a sharp-edged oval section.
The Arched Decks.
The main planes have a span of 52 ft, a chord of 7 ft. 6 ins. and a gap of 9 ft. in the centre, which diminishes to 8 ft. at the extremities. The aspect ratio is nearly 7, which is comparatively high, and should be conducive to considerable lift efficiency. Another most important feature of the flyer is the arching of the span of both main decks, this principle not having been previously adopted, so far as we are aware, in any power-driven flyer, although Wilbur Wright, in his account of his early gliding experiments, states that "We decided to begin alterations at the wing tips, and the next day made the necessary changes in the trussing, thus bringing the wing tips 6 inches lower than the centre." The above mentioned alteration was for the purpose of making the 1902 glider like their previous models in order to eliminate a difference which might possibly have been the cause of a trouble they were then investigating. Glenn H. Curtiss, in the "June Bug," of which an illustration will be found in the Souvenir Supplement of FLIGHT of March 20th, arched the upper deck concave to the earth, but made the lower deck convex, so that the construction as a whole was partially elliptical. In the Cody flyer it must be understood that both decks have their extremities drawn down like a gull's wing, and it is further noticeable that for some few feet from the ends the decks are flattened. Elsewhere there is, of course, considerable camber: the decks are double-surfaced.
Elevator and Rudders.
The arching principle in evidence on the main decks is also applied to the elevator in front. This latter is a divided monoplane of considerable area, and is arranged so that the halves can tilt and dip in unison or in an opposite sense. When working in unison, they perform the function of an elevator. When moving in an opposite sense they act as balancing planes, and are accompanied by a simultaneous movement of the fore and aft rudders. For specially sharp steering, supplementary planes can be attached immediately behind the main decks near the extremities where they are supported by the vertical struts.
Provision is also made for warping the main decks if necessary, and in this connection it is interesting to remark that Mr. Cody has employed the principle of warping for a long time in connection with his man-lifting kites. In these the wing extentions of the main box are warped if it is found that the kite is not riding properly in the wind, but the operation is not, of course, performed while the kite is aloft.
Of the two rudders, the forward member is mounted immediately above the elevator in the centre, while the stern rudder is carried by an independent outrigger at the rear. This latter outrigger is hinged to fold in against the main planes so as to reduce the fore and aft overall dimensions of the machine in its shed.
The control of the rudders, the elevator and the balancing planes is entirely obtained by manipulation of a universally pivoted lever carrying a steering wheel mounted rigidly upon it. The position which the control occupies in respect to the pilot is well illustrated by the accompanying photograph, which shows Mr. Cody with the steering-wheel pressed against his body. This position is that of normal flight, and the manoeuvres are accompanied by a swaying motion on the part of the pilot, who is in the habit of keeping his position shown in respect to the wheel. The pilot's seat, likewise that used by the passenger, is similar to the seats commonly provided for the drivers of agricultural machines. It is small but comfortable, and gives a sense of security without hampering bodily movement. The seats are fastened to a sloping board, which is hinged to give access to the engine.
There is a two-fold purpose in the tandem arrangement of the seats adopted by Mr. Cody. The first object is that of facilitating the training of pupil pilots, the second object is that of giving the passenger on a military flyer full scope for observation, the working of a gun, or the dropping of bombs as the case may be. In the accompanying illustration the pilot occupies the lower seat, but as instructor, Mr. Cody would take the upper seat as soon as his pupil was sufficiently accustomed to the air to be given momentary control of the machine. From the upper seat it is possible for the instructor to lean over the pupil and retain control of the machine whenever it may be necessary to do so. In a war flyer, the passenger would also occupy the lower seat, from which point of vantage he would have an absolutely uninterrupted view of everything below him, and by a slight modification of the present controlling mechanism, it would be a simple matter to rig up a gun or other special weapon of offence.
The Engine and Propellers.
The engine at present used on the Cody flyer is an 8-cylinder E.N.V. developing about 80-h.p. It operates two propellers, revolving in opposite directions, one of them being driven through a crossed chain. The propellers are situated between the main decks, and their short shafts are carried on ball-bearing brackets, braced to the main spars by an extremely interesting construction of tubular steel work and diagonal wire-ties. An entirely unusual feature of the two-bladed propellers on this machine is that they have their arms fastened to the pressure side or face of the blade, instead of, as is usual, on the back of the blade. The arm is enclosed by a false face in order to avoid sharp angles, but there nevertheless exists a high ridge down the face of the blade, and so much is this the case that it seems almost more correct to say that the blade has a special section, presenting a triple curved face. From the cutting edge to the centre the camber increases the pitch, then comes the reversal of the curve where the false face rounds the arm, and finally a renewal of the sharp camber, where the false face runs off into the trailing edge. The blades of the propeller are broader at the base than at the tip, and this, as well as the previously mentioned feature, Mr. Cody considers as advantageous to efficiency. Although not actually fitted to his present machine, Mr. Cody also has a design of bracket for supporting the propellers, which includes a free-wheel hub.
Being so large and heavy - in flying order with pilot the weight is in the neighbourhood of 1 ton - the question of portability is all the more important. The main decks, which span 52 ft. in the air, divide into three sections, comprising a central portion of 20 ft. and two end portions of 16 ft. each. The rudder outrigger folds across behind the decks, as already explained, and the elevator outrigger can be dismounted en bloc. The chassis can also be taken down without trouble, and thus the whale machine is made ready for easy transport.
From the foregoing description it will be evident that England possesses one of the most interesting machines which has yet flown, and the fact that it has flown so successfully naturally enhances the importance of every feature in its construction. Incidentally it gives us cause for some gratification that the optimistic view which we took of Mr. Cody's work when last dealing with this machine in FLIGHT, February 27th, has been so soon justified. We had occasion then to point out how adverse were the conditions under which experiments were being carried out, how very cheerfully Mr. Cody was risking his neck to win success, and how very early were those days for adverse critics to make disparaging comments. Remember Mr. Cody did not start with a machine which had already flown, and he has, consequently, had to contend with the hundred and one unknown quantities which collectively or separately may be hindering progress. On the top of all this there used to be the paralysing inconvenience of transporting the flyer from its shed to the flight ground - a proceeding which we had occasion to describe in the aforementioned issue of FLIGHT.
Then, just as things might perhaps have been going well, would come the exasperating delay caused by a burst tyre. Surely it would require the patience of Job to win the day under conditions like this. Yet the Government at that time seemed to think it was good enough, and critics seemed to be content to grumble, forsooth, because progress was slow. Mr. Cody is better situated now that he has moved into a shed of his own, and if he has not every convenience that he might like, he is managing to do very well with what he has, and in any case, there still remains the one great fact that he is the only man who is successfully flying in the British Isles to-day.
Flight, September 4, 1909
Cross-Country Flight by Mr. Cody.
PROGRESS still continues to be made by Mr. Cody at Aldershot, and on Saturday last he made his best performance so far by flying across country. Altogether four trips were carried out during the evening. In the first, in which he was unaccompanied, a distance of about four and a half miles was traversed. This was followed by a couple of flights with a passenger, each time a mechanic having the honour. The last "jaunt" of the day was the best. After crossing Laffan's Plain, the Basingstoke Canal, and Claycart Common, he flew along the Long Valley to Jubilee Hill. Rounding this, the Long Valley was again crossed diagonally to Long Hill, and then the course was over the Canal again to Eelmoor Hill. An altitude of about 100 ft. above the ground was reached at this point, where a number of admiring spectators spontaneously cheered Mr. Cody. He finished his fine effort by making a complete circuit of Laffan's Plain, and finally came to rest a few yards from his shed.
Flight, September 18, 1909
MR. CODY AND HIS AERIAL EXCURSIONS.
MR. CODY will have to be careful or he will find himself besieged at all hours of the day by people who wish to have a lift across Laffan's Plain. On Thursday of last week, three times in succession he flew across the Plain and back again, each time taking with him an officer of the Royal Engineers attached to the balloon factory. Capt. Brooke-Smith was first, and he was followed by Capt. King and Capt. Carden. Then Mr. F. J. Robinson, connected with New Pegamoid, Ltd, the manufacturers of the Pegamoid waterproof fabric which has been adopted by Mr. Cody for the covering of his biplane, was taken for a similar trip, and to wind up the proceedings Mr. Cody took his son Leon on to Cove Common. Unfortunately, there a leak in the radiator compelled a descent, and it being impossible to repair it in the dark the machine was towed back to its shed, after a most interesting day.
The next day, the gusty weather prevented flying, and Mr. Cody spent the time maturing his plans for his flight to Manchester.
On Saturday Mr. Cody had a distinguished onlooker, the Empress Eugenie driving over from Farnborough in order to witness the trials. In the first, Mr. Cody was considerably hampered by the crowd, and only kept aloft for five minutes. He then went up again, and in order to avoid the crowds of spectators, was forced to make a rapid descent, damaging one of the planes, besides buckling three of the wheels. This was, however, set right in a quarter of an hour, when Mr. Cody went up for the last time and circled over Laffan's Plain three times.
On coming down he was presented to the Empress by Lieut.-General Smith-Dorrien and congratulated on his success.
A rather sharp accident marred the conclusion of a successful flight on Tuesday evening. After flying round Laffan's Plain at a fairly high speed, Mr. Cody decided to come down. Apparently, however, the wheels had not been properly re-adjusted after their buckling on Saturday, and when the machine touched the ground they jammed, bringing the aeroplane to a sudden standstill. The shock threw Mr. Cody from his seat, and his face was rather badly cut, but otherwise this intrepid flyer was as cheery as ever. The front of the machine was also smashed up slightly, but this damage was quickly repaired.
The Flight to Manchester.
WITH regard to Mr. Cody's intention to attempt to fly between London and Manchester, Mr. Brock, of the well-known firm of firework manufacturers, has suggested that the route should be marked by clouds of coloured smoke from shells sent up at various points to a height of 300 ft. Mr. Brock has drawn up a provisional code of colours as follows, and suggests that shells should be fired at each point until the aeroplane passes, when the next point would take up the work. Mr. Cody should have no difficulty in seeing the clouds, for they would be about 150 yards along and would remain visible for three or four minutes :-
Berkhamsted ... Red
Buckingham ... Dark blue
Leamington ... Yellow
Birmingham ... Red
Stafford ... Red and yellow
Crewe ... Yellow and blue