Classic History Books

William J. Claxton - The Mastery of the Air

"3. The wind at the time of the accident was about 10 miles per hour.

"4. At about 200 feet from the ground the air-craft buckled up and fell to the ground. A large piece of the
lower left wing, composing the whole of the front spar between the fuselage and the first upright, was

picked up at least 100 yards from the spot where the air-craft struck the ground.

"5. The fall of the air-craft was broken considerably by the trees, to such an extent that the portion of the
fuselage surrounding the seats was practically undamaged.

"6. Neither the pilot nor passenger was strapped in.

"0pinion. The Committee is of opinion that the failure of the air-craft was due to inherent structural

"Since that portion of the air-craft in which the pilot and passenger were seated was undamaged, it is
conceivable their lives might have been saved had they been strapped in."

This occasion was not the only time when the Accidents Investigation Committee recommended the
advisability of the airman being strapped to his seat. But many airmen absolutely refuse to wear a belt,

just as many cyclists cannot bear to have their feet made fast to the pedals of their cycles by using


Mention of toe-clips brings us to other accidents which sometimes befall airmen. As we have seen in a
previous chapter, Mr. Hawker's accident in Ireland was due to his foot slipping over the rudder bar of his

machine. It is thought that the disaster to Mr. Pickles' machine on "Aerial Derby" day in 1913 was due to

the same cause, and on one occasion Mr. Brock was in great danger through his foot slipping on the

rudder bar while he was practising some evolutions at the London Aerodome. Machines are generally

flying at a very fast rate, and if the pilot loses control of the machine when it is near the ground the

chances are that the aeroplane crashes to earth before he can right it. Both Mr. Hawker and Mr. Pickles

were flying low at the time of their accidents, and so their machines were smashed; fortunately Mr.

Brock was comparatively high up in the air, and though his machine rocked about and banked in an

ominous manner, yet he was able to gain control just in the nick of time.

To prevent accidents of this kind the rudder bars could be fitted with pedals to which the pilot's feet
could be secured by toe-clips, as on bicycle pedals. Indeed, some makers of air-craft have already

provided pedals with toe-clips for the rudder bar. Probably some safety device such as this will soon be

made compulsory on all machines.

We have already remarked that certain pilots do not pay sufficient heed to the inspection of their
machines before making a flight. The difference between pilots in this respect is interesting to observe.

On the great day at Hendon, in 1913 - the Aerial Derby day - there were over a dozen pilots out with

their craft.

From the enclosure one could watch the airmen and their mechanics as the machines were run out from
the hangars on to the flying ground. One pilot walked beside his mechanics while they were running the

machine to the starting place, and watched his craft with almost fatherly interest. Before climbing into his

seat he would carefully inspect the spars, bolts, wires, controls, and so on; then he would adjust his

helmet and fasten himself into his seat with a safety belt.

"Surely with all that preliminary work he is ready to start," remarked one of the spectators standing by.


< back | 69 | next >

Buy This Book


Our Other Sites

Historic Paintings
Online Dating

Kindle 2 Reviews
Funny Video Clips



Classic History Books | Book List | Author Bios | Site Map | About Us | Privacy Statement
This Website is ©Copyright 2008 - 2009 - WebQuest Publishing
None of the content may be copied or reused.