Classic History Books

William J. Claxton - The Mastery of the Air

Mr. Hawker's intention was to reach Aberdeen, if possible, before nightfall, but at Seaham he had to
descend for water, as the engine was becoming uncomfortably hot, and the radiator supply of water was

rapidly diminishing. This lost much valuable time, as over an hour was spent here, and it had begun to

grow dark before the journey was recommenced. About an hour after resuming his journey he decided to

plane down at the fishing village of Beadwell, some 20 miles south of Berwick.

At 8.5 on Tuesday morning the pilot was on his way to Aberdeen, but he had to descend and stay at
Montrose for about half an hour, and Aberdeen was reached about 11 a.m. His Scottish admirers,

consisting of quite 40,000 people at Aberdeen alone, gave him a most hearty welcome, and sped him on

his way about noon. Some two hours later Cromarty was reached.

Now commenced the most difficult part of the course. The Caledonian Canal runs among lofty
mountains, and the numerous air-eddies and swift air-streams rushing through the mountain passes tossed

the frail craft to and fro, and at times threatened to wreck it altogether. On some occasions the aeroplane

was tossed up over 1000 feet at one blow; at other times it was driven sideways almost on to the hills.

From Cromarty to Oban the journey was only about 96 miles, but it took nearly three hours to fly

between these places. This slow progress seriously jeopardized the pilot's chances of completing the

course in the allotted time, for it was his intention to make the coast of Ireland by nightfall. But as it was

late when Oban was reached he decided to spend the night there.

Early the following morning he left for Dublin, 222 miles away. Soon a float was found to be
waterlogged and much valuable time was, spent in bailing it dry. Then a descent had to be made at

Kiells, in Argyllshire, because a valve had gone wrong. Another landing was made at Larne, to take

aboard petrol. As soon as the petrol tanks were filled and the machine had been overhauled the pilot got

on his way for Dublin.

For over two hours he flew steadily down the Irish coast, and then occurred one of those slight accidents,
quite insignificant in themselves, but terribly disastrous in their results. Mr. Hawker's boots were rubber

soled and his foot slipped off the rudder bar, so that the machine got out of control and fell into the sea at

Lough Shinny, about 15 miles north of Dublin. At the time of the accident the pilot was about 50 feet

above the water, which in this part of the Lough is very shallow. The machine was completely wrecked,

and Mr. Hawker's mechanic was badly cut about the head and neck, besides having his arm broken. Mr.

Hawker himself escaped injury.

All Britons deeply sympathized with his misfortune, and much enthusiasm, was aroused when the
proprietors of the Daily Mail presented the skilful and courageous pilot with a cheque for L1000 as a

consolation gift.

In a later chapter some account will be given of the tremendous development of the aeroplane during
four years of war. But it is fitting that to the three historic flights detailed above there should be added

the sensational exploits of the Marchese Giulio Laureati in 1917. This intrepid Italian airman made a

non-stop journey from Turin to Naples and back, a distance of 920 miles. A month later he flew from

Turin to Hounslow, a distance of 656 miles, in 7 hours 22 minutes. His machine was presented to the

British Air Board by the Italian Government.


CHAPTER XXXIV. The Hydroplane and Air-boat

One of the most recent developments in aviation is the hydroplane, or water-plane as it is most
commonly called. A hydroplane is an aeroplane fitted with floats instead of wheels, so that it will rise


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