H.King Aeromarine Origins (Putnam)
A remarkable British aeromarine contrivance of 1908/9 was the Humphreys Waterplane, built at Wivenhoe, Essex. A contemporary description ran:
'Amidships and incorporated in the lower plane is fitted the most original feature of this machine in the shape of a kind of coracle hull of very thin wood, in which the navigator sits. The reason for this is that Mr Humphreys has elected to start his aeroplane from the surface of the water, thereby eliminating practially all the danger attendant upon experimental flights from land in an untried machine. For a fall from a considerable height need have no terrors with water below, and none of the fears of hedges, ditches, telegraph wires and disturbing air currents due to inequalities in the ground. Further, it is possible to skid on water, whereas land running gear would break or, at least, prove unresponsive to side influences.'
This could, in fact, have been the first amphibian, for it was intended to be 'capable of arising from and alighting on both water and land'.
M.Goodall, A.Tagg British Aircraft before the Great War (Schiffer)
HUMPHREYS gliders (Jack Edmond Humphreys, Wivenhoe, Essex)
Prior to attempting powered flight, Jack Humphreys built three gliders from 1902 onwards, culminating in man carrying flights of up to half a mile from the cliffs at Coombe Farm, Fowey in Cornwall. He made a study of bird flight and based his highlift wing design on that of birds, confirming by practical experiment the airflow and lifting characteristics.
Humphreys withdrew from aviation after the series of mishaps at Brooklands with his No.3 monoplane, and strong criticism voiced in The Aeroplane by C.G. Grey concerning his piloting ability. He was a qualified dental surgeon and returned to this profession establishing a practice in Harley St., London Wl.
The construction of an amphibious biplane was begun in the autumn of 1908 at Forrest's Boatyard, Wivenhoe. It was launched on the River Colne at Rowhedge Ferry Hard in April 1909, but soon sank at its moorings. It had previously been brought to London for exhibition at the Aero Show at Olympia in March but, because of its size, the machine could not pass through the doors. The subsequent trials were unsuccessful and the machine, which became known as the 'Wivenhoe Flyer' in the Press, never did more than just taxiing on the river at speeds up to ten knots.
The biplane wings were widely spaced and curved in shape, with large triangular tip ailerons. The top center section embodied a tapered 'keel', a theory of Humphreys to assist longitudinal stability. A triangular front elevator and flexible tailplane, with rudder above, were fitted at the rear of the machine. The tailplane was fixed but could be operated differentially in conjunction with the ailerons.
The engine was mounted across the center on bearers, at midgap, and drove twin pusher propellers through shafts and bevel gearing. A four wheeled chassis, which could be folded up, was incorporated, but probably not fitted for the trials on water. The machine floated on an open central hull and tip floats, mounted on the lower wings.
Steel tube was used for the main frame with wood in the structure of the lower wing, tail and supports for the front elevator. The mainplanes and fin were covered with thin aluminum sheet, the rest of the surfaces were fabric covered.
Power: 35hp JAP eight-cylinder air-cooled vee driving two counter rotating 8ft diameter steel bladed propellers at 400 rpm
Hull 12ft 6in by 8ft beam
Tip floats 6ft by 1ft 6in beam
Area 650 sq ft *
Weight allup 1,7501b
*Area uncertain but claimed loading of 1 lb per sq ft does not seem feasible
P.Lewis British Aircraft 1809-1914 (Putnam)
The single-seat pusher Humphreys Waterplane was designed by Jack Humphreys and built by Forrestt during 1908. The machine was a sesquiplane of very low aspect-ratio mounted on a coracle-style hull. The engine was an eight-cylinder 35 h.p. J.A.P. which drove twin propellers. The triangular tailplane was universally pivoted and incorporated flexible surfaces, having an effective dihedral angle when neutrally loaded. Fin and rudder were absent but triangular ailerons were fitted to the wing-tips. It was intended to display the Waterplane at the 1909 Olympia Aero Show, but it could not be manoeuvred through the entrance into the hall. When tested in April, 1909, on the River Colne at Wivenhoe, Essex, the hull filled with water and the machine sank at its moorings. It was salvaged intact and later attained 10 knots on the water when taxying, but never flew. Span, 45 ft. Length, 13 ft.