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William J. Claxton - The Mastery of the Air

But now came another piece of very bad luck for the British aviator. At daybreak a strong wind arose,
and Mr. White's machine was tossed about like a mere play-ball, so that he was compelled to land.

Paulhan, however, who was a pilot with far more experience, was able to overcome the treacherous air

gusts, and he flew on to Manchester, arriving there in the early morning.

Undoubtedly the better pilot won, and he had a truly magnificent reception in Manchester and London,
and on his return to France. But this historic contest laid the foundation of Mr. Grahame-White's great

reputation as an aviator, and, as we all know, his fame has since become world-wide.

 

CHAPTER XXXIII. Three Historic Flights (Cont.)

About a month after Paulhan had won the "London to Manchester" race, the world of aviation, and most
of the general public too, were astonished to read the announcement of another enormous prize. This

time a much harder task was set, for the conditions of the contest stated that a circuit of Britain had to be

made, covering a distance of about 1000 miles in one week, with eleven compulsory stops at fixed

controls.

This prize was offered on 22nd May, 1910, and in the following year seventeen competitors entered the
lists. It says much for the progress of aviation at this time, when we read that, only a year before, it was

difficult to find but two pilots to compete in the much easier race described in the last chapter. Much of

this progress was undoubtedly due to the immense enthusiasm aroused by the success of Paulhan in the

"London to Manchester" race.

We will not describe fully the second race, because, though it was of immense importance at the time, it
has long since become a mere episode. Rarely has Britain been in such great excitement as during that

week in July, 1911.

Engine troubles, breakdowns, and other causes soon reduced the seventeen competitors to two only:
Lieutenant Conneau, of the French Navy-who flew under the name of M. Beaumont - and M. Vedrines.

Neck to neck they flew - if we may be allowed this horse-racing expression - over all sorts of country,

which was quite unknown to them.

Victory ultimately rested with Lieutenant Conneau, who, on 26th July, 1911, passed the winning-post at
Brooklands after having completed the course in the magnificent time of twenty-two hours, twenty-eight

minutes, averaging about 45 miles an hour for the whole journey. M. Vedrines, though defeated, made a

most plucky fight. Conneau's success was due largely to his ability to keep to the course - on two or three

occasions Vedrines lost his way - and doubtless his naval training in map-reading and observation gave

him the advantage over his rival.

The third historic flight was made by Mr. Harry Hawker, in August, 1913. This was an attempt to win a
prize of L5000 offered by the proprietors of the Daily Mail for a flight round the British coasts. The route

was from Cowes, in the Isle of Wight, along the southern and eastern coasts to Aberdeen and Cromarty,

thence through the Caledonian Canal to Oban, then on to Dublin, thence to Falmouth, and along the

south coast to Southampton Water.

Two important conditions of the contest were that the flight was to be made in an all-British aeroplane,
fitted with a British engine. Hitherto our aeroplane constructors and engine companies were behind their

rivals across the Channel in the building of air-craft and aerial engines, and this country freely

acknowledged the merits and enterprise of French aviators. Though in the European War it was

 

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