Home   eBooks   London Miscellany   Maps   View Cart   How to Buy

Practical Flying  —  £ 4.99

Go to the eBook Shop Teach yourself to Fly. With a second-hand Tiger Moth, a copy of this book and a bit of practice you could be up in the air in no time.

Everything you need to know about piloting single-engined biplanes is described and pictured here. Also included are tips on advanced flying (stunting) and aerial combat.

This eBook version contains the entire text, over 100 illustrations and 50 fascinating advertisements from the first edition, published in 1918.

Please see the extract below for a list of the contents, the preface and the chapter covering the first solo flight.

To buy this book for your eBook reader visit the shop or

  2 files, mobi for any Kindle and epub for all other eReaders


At the unveiling of the R.A.F. War Memorial in 1923, H.R.H. the Prince of Wales spoke about 'our cloud armies of the future'. Many of the pilots who saved Britain from invasion in 1940 must have read this book. They certainly all benefited from the experiences and hard lessons learned during the First World War that led to the methods described therein.

The contents of my copy of this book are pristine but the cover is a bit grubby, so I have recreated it. The many illustrations make this eBook a large file. If your desktop software baulks at importing it onto your reader, drag and drop or copy and paste it instead.


The text and any images below are identical to the eBook; however, depending on the typeface, etc., that you select, they may not display here exactly as they do on your eReader. Also, pages turn as normal, rather than the scrolling effect seen here.



Chapter I
   Preliminary Considerations

Men that Make Good Pilots – Safety of Flying – Summary of Preliminary Studies

Chapter II
    Theory and Practice of Flight

Principles of Flight – Explanatory Description of the Controls – The Engine – Aeroplane Construction

Chapter III
    Elementary Principles of Aeroplane Engines and Causes of Engine Trouble

How a Four-cycle Engine Works – Valve Systems of Different Types – Stationary and Rotary Engines – Parts that Give Trouble – Diagnosing Engine Breakdowns – Common Engine Failures – General hints on Running an Engine

Chapter IV
    The first lesson in the Air

Flying Straight, Laterally and Horizontally Level – Bumps, Turning – Getting Off and Landing – When to Take the First Solo Flight

Chapter V
    The First Solo Flight and Aerodrome Practice

Preliminary Attention to Engine and Machine – Starting Up – Signals to Mechanics – Getting Off – Turning – At 1000 ft. Up – The Rule of the Air – Landing – Taxying – Obtaining a Pilot's Certificate

Chapter VI
    The Use and Workings of the Instruments

The Principal Instruments Used – Their Working – How One May be Substituted for Another

Chapter VII
    Map Reading

Principal Terms Used – Reckoning the Scale – Contours – Features – Map Symbols – Ideal Map for Aviation

Chapter VIII
    Preparing for a Cross-Country Flight

Marking up a Map – Working out Deviation – Swinging a Compass – The Wind Factor – Calculating Radius of Action – Finding One's Bearings – The Inter-relationship of Landmarks – How to Carry the Map – Position and Comfort – Clothing – Goggles

Chapter IX
    Cross-Country Flying

The Height to Fly – Storms, Fog and Clouds – Taking Bearings in Day-time and at Night – Landing on Strange Ground – Re-starting from a Field – A Forced Landing – Making Use of the Wind when Landing – Selecting Suitable Landing Ground – Making an "S" Turn – Turning Near the Ground – Steps to Take After a Forced Landing – Starting up Without Aid – Swinging a Propeller – Starting a Rotary Engine – Causes of Engine Failures – Examples of Good and Bad Airmanship

Chapter X
    More Advanced Flying

An Ascent of 10,000 ft. – A Vertical Bank – Spiral Descents – "Zooming" – Nose Diving – Looping – Tail Sliding and Spinning – Horizontal Rolling; – Rolling and Staggering – The Immelmann Turn – Exhibition Trick Flying

Chapter XI
    Night Flying

Aerodrome Lighting – Daylight Practice – Getting Off at Night – Night Landing – Night-flying Equipment – Setting Out an Aerodrome

Chapter XII
    The Growth of Confidence – A word both to Instructors and Pupils

Instilling Confidence – After a Crash – Advantages of Considerable Practice – Advanced Dual Control – When a Pupil Can Fly – The Time Taken in Learning

Chapter XIII
    The Medical Aspects of Aviation with some notes on Suitable Clothing

Physical Fitness – Reflex Actions – The Visual Reflex – The Auditory Reflex – Tactile and Muscular Reflexes – The Balancing Reflex – Drinking and Smoking – Over Confidence – What to Wear – Frostbite – Air Sickness


A. Flying Instruction Notes in Brief

B. Glossary of Terms Commonly used in Aviation



     EVERY prospective pilot who is really interested in his work must have been struck with the dearth of literature dealing with practical flying. When the writer was learning to fly he searched everywhere for practical information on aviation, and studied all the available literature on the subject, but found most of it lacking in the very features he required. Even to-day, most books on flying are either far too advanced, dealing principally with the theoretical aspect of aviation, or else contain historical and personal, instead of practical, reminiscences. There seem to be few books written by experienced pilots in such simple language that a man who had never seen an aeroplane before might understand and appreciate the information, hints and advice given. It has been the writers object to produce such a book, giving as much useful and practical information on elementary flying as space permitted. It is not pretended that it possesses any great literary merit, but it is hoped that it will be of use to those now learning to fly, as a good deal of the matter was originally given in lecture form to officers when undergoing their preliminary training at a flying school. It does not pretend to appeal to the expert pilot or the individual interested in the more technical or theoretical side of aviation. The idea has been rather to present to the prospective pilot, in terms that can be easily understood, a general impression of how flying is taught and learned. Forewarned is forearmed, and it is hoped that, by studying the advice and hints contained in the chapters on elementary flying, the beginner will be able to avoid many of the mistakes so commonly made while under instruction.
      At the moment of going to press, the fusion of the Royal Naval Air Service and the Royal Flying Corps is taking place, and by the time the book is in the hands of the reader it is anticipated that the flying services will be consolidated under the title of the Royal Air Force.
      Owing to the rapid changes which take place in flying, training systems and machines may also vary from time to time as new and improved methods are introduced, and, therefore, due allowance must be made for them in reading the book. If any important corrections are necessary between the time the bulk of the pages go to press and publication, they will be found in an addendum at the end.
      Both R.F.C. and R.N.A.S. officers who were instructing at the same flying school as the writer have rendered him valuable assistance in producing the book, and his thanks are due to them for their suggestions and advice.

Chapter V

The First Solo Flight and Aerodrome Practice

     BEFORE starting on a flight, whether the first solo or a 200 miles cross-country journey, it is a wise plan for a pilot to look over his engine and machine methodically. He should not take it for granted that the machine is ready to fly because the mechanic reports it so, but must look over it himself. Some pilots have the mechanical instinct born in them; others have not, and will never attain it. The latter are the people who are in the habit of using pliers to undo nuts, or who employ wood chisels in the place of a screwdriver.

Attention to the Engine

     First glance over the engine, which is the more important part; and here a thorough knowledge of aero engines will be of great value. The following are some of the details that should be examined: – The terminals on the sparking plugs and the magnetos should be tight; both the high and low-tension wiring should be neatly clipped up and not lying about the machine in festoons, which might tend eventually to chafe through and cause a short circuit (at any points where wiring touches the metal portions of the machine, some form of additional insulator, such as insulating rubber tape or a fibre ring, should be inserted); the petrol unions should be tight; rubber connections, if fitted, must not be perished; and if the petrol pipe is made of some woven material it should be examined for signs of disintegration. Tappets and rocker arms should be inspected, and both should be properly lubricated. It should be noticed if any split pins are missing, and that those that are fitted are not loose. If automatic inlet valves are used, the pupil should see that they are working properly.
      Finally, the pilot should be satisfied that there are no petrol or oil leaks, and that the switch is working properly.

Overlooking the Machine

      Next, the machine itself must have some attention. After some hours flying experience on one type of machine, the pilot will know which parts are most liable to give trouble. These may be the wires slacking off in the tail, or the tail itself may be liable to work loose. Wear should be looked for in the Sandbow shock absorbers in the under-carriage, or perhaps on an aileron which is inclined to bind. Loose or missing nuts and bolts should be looked for. The turnbuckles should be correctly locked and the control wire pulleys or guides greased properly. They should work easily without too much slack in the wires. Of course, the controls are most important, the most vital being the elevator control. They must be tested by sitting in the machine, working the control lever and rudder bar, and, at the same time, observing if their operation has the desired effect on the ailerons and tail. If the wires show signs of chafing where they pass over the pulleys, they should be changed. In some machines it is possible for the mechanics after an overhaul to connect the elevator control wires in the wrong way, i.e., they may forget to cross them. It is thus necessary to pay particular attention to the machine after it has been in the shops or when the controls have been overhauled. The nuts and bolts and the locking arrangements for securing the landing chassis wheels should be inspected occasionally.

Preliminary Engine Tests

      Whilst sitting in the machine the pilot should test the engine and see if it is developing its proper number of revolutions; if not it requires attention. This is an important detail, because a slight falling-off in engine revolutions means a very great reduction of the power developed. At the same time, it should be remembered that an engine will often give 50 or 100 more revolutions per minute in the air than it does on the ground, and this must be allowed for. A skilled pilot can tell, of course, by the sound of his engine whether it is missing fire or running unevenly or weakly. He should then switch off and tell the mechanics to feel the cylinders, the cold one being that causing the trouble. A partial misfire is always more difficult to locate than a total misfire. The latter must be due to one of two things – either a choked or broken pipe, or faulty ignition at the magneto or switch.

Knowledge of the Engine

      Too much importance cannot be attached to the need for the pilot to understand his engine and machine perfectly. When he knows his engine well, and has the feel of the machine, he can tell exactly how it is flying, and what is more, he can often discern faults in the machine or the engine before they become really serious. If his engine fails, he should be able, after some hours flying, to diagnose the trouble before he comes to earth, just in the same way as a good motorcar driver can tell what has caused his engine to stop before the road wheels of his car have come to rest.
      In warming-up an engine it is wise, when cold, to open it up slowly, in order to allow the metal to expand evenly and to permit the oil to thin and circulate properly through the bearings before full power is applied. In cold weather a longer period must be given for warming-up than in summer time, when the oil is not congealed. In very cold weather the castor oil used on many machines will solidify almost to the condition of candle grease. To thin it, methylated spirit may be mixed with it in the proportion of one pint to a gallon of oil; petrol can also be mixed with the oil in the proportion of 1 in 20.
      The pilot should remember that the oil supply must be turned on before starting the engine, otherwise it will seize up very soon. On a rotary engine he must note the rise and fall of the oil contained in the pulsator glass domes. If these pulsations show up, he can take it that the oil pump is working and the oil supply turned on.

Starting Up

      The engine and machine having been tested, the pupil is now ready to start. It should be noted that the onus of accidents occurring when starting up the engine by swinging the propeller rests with the pilot. Incidentally, the mechanic should always treat the propeller as if the engine were "on contact," and, for this reason, it is a good plan for the switch to be fitted on the outside of the machine where the mechanic can see it. When ready to suck the mixture into the cylinders, the mechanic shouts "Switch off" or "Suck in!" whereupon the pilot, first looking to see that the switch is off (it should have the "On" and "Off" positions clearly marked), replies, "Switch off." The mechanic then sucks in until immediately ready to start the engine, when he shouts, ''Contact!" The pilot switches on and shouts, "Contact!" The mechanic then bumps the propeller over compression and the engine should start. The words "contact" and "switch off" are chosen so that there shall be no doubt as to what is meant, as there might be if the words "switch off'" and "switch on" were used instead. Both mechanic and pilot should see that they speak distinctly and loudly. The switch must always be left off except when it is desired to start the engine. The importance of this can be realised when it is mentioned that a man's arm or wrist can be broken easily by the premature firing of the engine.

Starting up without chocks. Men holding back the machine and keeping the tail down while the engine is tested.

Importance of Wind

      When starting, the pupil must remember to face the wind, and the same remark applies to landing. In both cases this is done in order to reduce the speed at which the machine leaves or lands on the ground. For Instance, if there be a 10-mile-an-hour wind blowing, and the lowest flying speed of the machine is 40 miles an hour, by facing the wind the pupil can leave the ground and land at 40 minus 10, which equals 30 miles an hour. If, on the other hand, he starts and lands with the wind, he must do so at 40 plus 10, which equals 50 m.p.h., so that, in this case, it is seen there is a difference in the ground speed of getting off and landing of 20 miles an hour – a very considerable item when it is remembered it may be necessary to land in a small field where a limited space is allowed for the "run,'' or "carry," after the landing.

The importance of wind. The air speed of the machine is relative to the air, and not to the ground. If the whole atmosphere is moving at 10 m.p.h., and the machine air speed through the air is 40 m.p.h., the speed of the machine over the ground will be 50 m.p.h. Against the wind the ground speed will be 30 m.p.h. Hence the importance of getting off and landing against the wind.

Signals to Mechanics

      The usual method of signifying to the mechanics that the pupil is ready to get off is to wave the hand above the head, whereupon they will withdraw the chocks from under the wheels. When the chocks are withdrawn, the pupil will do well to see that all the mechanics are standing clear. It happens sometimes that one of them, possibly holding down the tail, has not seen the signal, and he or his clothing may easily become entangled in the machine if the pupil went off unexpectedly, here is another point which the pupil must guard against, and that is the possibility of the chocks being withdrawn in mistake before he is ready, or, alternatively, in a mechanic starting up the engine without first seeing that the chocks are in position. If the pupil were not already warned against these possibilities, he might easily run over the mechanic, owing to the forward rush of the machine, through the throttle being too wide open, or, in the case of a rotary type of engine, which cannot be throttled down so well as a stationary one, through keeping the switch on too long.
      Having satisfied himself on these points, the pupil should make certain that he has a clear run in front of him and that there are no other machines in the neighbourhood, either getting off or landing, which can possibly baulk him. This applies especially to machines which might be landing over his head. If he has to taxi out some distance in order to get into the wind, he should make certain that he allows himself ample room in order to clear such obstacles as woods, trees, or sheds.

Getting off and landing. The movements of the control lever are indicated by the white line on the fuselage (exaggerated). It is of the greatest importance, both in getting off and landing, for the pupil to look ahead, so as to have some mark in view by which he can keep the machine straight.

Getting Off

      Now comes one of the two more difficult parts of a pupil's initial flying experience – the start. It is a good plan to get under way slowly and to open up the engine gently, thus gathering speed gradually. Then, if the machine should tend to swing sideways it can be counteracted by ruddering in the opposite direction before the sideways swing develops into anything serious. A machine may swing sideways when starting for a variety of reasons. Sometimes it is due to the pupil, who is often liable to over-rudder on the ground until the machine is edging in the desired direction. This causes it to swing sideways further than intended. The rudder should be eased off as soon as the machine starts to swing in the required direction. This applies more particularly to fast machines. Another possible reason for a machine swinging is that the pupil, in opening the throttle, which is placed on one side, may allow his foot to act automatically in conjunction with his hand, i.e., if he opens the throttle with the left hand he may push his left foot forward at the same time. When in doubt, it is a good plan to switch off altogether and to make a fresh start, unless the machine is already in the air.

Getting off with the tail too high, with the possible result that the machine might turn turtle.

Getting off with the tail too low and without sufficient flying speed. Unless the control lever is immediately put forward, the machine will stall and crash.

Engine Economy

      It is desirable to get under way gradually. This saves the machine, which should at all times be treated as a fragile and very sensitive piece of mechanism. It is well, also, to throttle down the engine a little in the air, for it is never a good plan to run it ''all out" at any time.
      On a long flight it pays to throttle down the engine every now and then and to glide down a thousand feet.
      The pupil starts by moving his stick forward slightly as he gains speed, and by getting his tail well up, but not too high, for, if on a tractor, the propeller might hit the ground, gathering speed gradually and slowly and almost imperceptibly pulling the control lever towards him. When he feels the machine in the air he can ease the control lever forward momentarily in order to allow the aeroplane to pick up speed. The speed will then increase, but the rate of climb will decrease. Generally, it is wise for a pupil not to climb the machine at its lowest flying speed, but rather to allow three or four miles an hour for possible mistakes. The use of the instruments which indicate the speed of the machine is described in Chapter VI.


      It is a bad plan at any time to turn near the ground because there is little air space in which to correct bumps, side-slips, or any other unexpected occurrences. It is wise, therefore, for the novice to keep straight on his course against the wind until he has attained a height of 500 to 1000 ft.; then he can make his turn.

If the air-speed indicator is fitted to the left wing, on a right-hand turn it will register more than the mean speed of the machine. On a left-hand turn it will register less than the mean speed of the machine.

      When turning on school machines, where there is generally not a very wide range of flying speed or reserve of engine power, the nose of the machine should generally be put down slightly and the turn should be made at or slightly over flying level speed. Some instructors consider that the stronger the wind the more must the speed be kept up in turning. The reason for this, they say, is that in all turns a machine is inclined to lose height, and especially in this the case when turning down wind. Many pilots imagine that in turning down wind they experience a curious sloppy feeling in the controls, whereas they seem to detect a much firmer grip of the air when turning up wind. Much discussion and argument have taken place on this subject, but theoretically, at any rate, it should make no difference to the control of a machine whether it be turning up wind or down wind. How many pilots, for instance, could detect an up wind or down wind turn, if they could not see the ground, as would be the case if they were flying above the clouds? It is wise not to rely too implicitly at any time on the air speed indicator. This is especially true when turning, the danger lying in the possibility of the pupil holding off the bank when turning down wind near the ground, more particularly with stable machines. Assuming that the air speed indicator is fitted in the vicinity of one, say, the left-hand, wing tip, as is the case on most tractors, then, in making a turn to the right, the left-hand wing is obviously travelling much faster than the right-hand one. Therefore the air speed indicator tube attached to the left wing is over-registering the mean speed of the machine. On the other hand, if a left-hand turn is to be made, the indicator is under-registering the mean speed. On tractor machines the air speed indicator is fixed to one side of the fore-and-aft centre line of the machine in order that it may not be interfered with by the slip stream of the propeller, which is driven out past the fuselage of the machine. In pusher machines, the air speed indicator tube is fitted centrally.

Incorrect turns, showing how sideslips occur.

Straightening Up

      In turning, a pupil should put his nose down slightly by moving the control lever forward. He should then push the rudder and control lever over together in the direction he desires to turn. When he wishes to fly straight again, he brings the rudder and the control lever back to the central position, or, in some machines, slightly over in the opposite direction, the opposite bank being applied first and the opposite rudder applied as the machine approaches a horizontal position: the quicker the turn the more rudder and bank are required. The controls are centred when the machine is level. He should never turn slowly, as this manoeuvre may result in a sideslip and stall, which means that the machine loses its flying speed and gets into a tail-down or cabré position.

The First Flight Solo

      The pupil has now attained the height of 1000 ft. or so and is flying down wind. He is comparatively happy, as, once in the air at a fair height, the control of the machine is a simple matter. There are, however, several pitfalls into which he may tumble if he is not careful. He must always have in the back of his mind the possibility of an engine failure necessitating what is known as a forced landing. With this in view, he should always, so far as is possible, be able to turn into the wind and land in the aerodrome. Consequently, pupils who fly low over woods, houses, or other obstacles are taking unnecessary and foolish risks. If any useful purpose were to be served by running such risks, then by all means let him take them; but otherwise such flying is unjustifiable and extremely foolish. A pupil should remember that it is only given to the average pilot to make two or three such mistakes in the air before meeting with a really serious crash, attended by broken limbs, or perhaps worse.

The landing ground of an aerodrome, showing where and where not to land. The same thing applies equally in getting off.

      For the same reason it is a bad plan to point the machine towards woods, trees, hedges or buildings unless the pupil is absolutely certain that there is sufficient space to prevent him from running into them in the case of an engine failure when starting, or to attain sufficient height first to enable him to turn round and land on suitable ground. In landing, too, he should allow himself as much room as possible for the run of the machine and should not head it towards obstacles, as he is likely to overshoot the mark considerably.

Flying Over Bad Ground

      In certain circumstances, as, for instance, in the case of a cross-country flight in misty weather, when it is impossible to fly high, it may be necessary to fly low in the vicinity of woods or other unfavourable landing ground. Where possible, these grounds should be flown round, if they are of great extent, instead of over them, as an engine failure, with the ensuing forced landing in a forest, is not an undertaking that a pilot relishes, although such landings have been made in exceptional circumstances without the pilot suffering so much as a scratch.

The Rule of the Air

      Whilst in the air a sharp look-out should be kept for other machines. This applies to all kinds of flying, but is particularly true at flying schools, where there is generally a large number of machines in a comparatively restricted air space. Usually, some set course is laid down, i.e., right or left-hand circuits, and pupils should familiarize themselves with the course to be adopted before going up. In the air, the "rule of the road" as laid down by the Royal Aero Club, is that one keeps to the right when meeting machines and steers clear when overtaking. When machines meet at an angle the pilot that finds the other machine on his right must steer clear. In flying near other machines, a pupil may encounter bumps set up by the propeller of the other machine, but these need not alarm him, as it is a simple matter to correct or avoid them. For the same reason it is not advisable for a pupil to land behind another machine, as its wash may upset him considerably. In flying near airships he should beware of trailing wires. In fact it is well to avoid flying in the vicinity of these craft.

The rule of the air when overtaking or meeting another aeroplane.

Discomfort of Bumps

      During their early flying experiences many pupils are apt to become alarmed at the bumps they find in the air. To begin with, these bumps may certainly seem strange and uncomfortable, but, in reality, a pilot with a good machine is absolutely safe in them. In flying, it is a question of the higher the fewer, and quite often a pupil may find that the first 500 ft. or 1000 ft. of atmosphere are bumpy, but at anything above that height the air is quite calm. Bumps have been known to occur at heights of 10,000 ft. or more, but this is very exceptional. It should be remembered that a bump under a wing will only put a machine into such a position as it frequently assumes when turning even at quite moderate banks. Bumps will often be found in the region of clouds, and sometimes, too, they may herald the approach of a thunderstorm.

Points to notice when encountering another machine in the air, i.e., avoid flying or landing in the backwash of another machine, as the air in the wake of the machine is very bumpy.

      Sometimes it happens that a pupil, on his first or second solo flight, may lose himself, in which case he has only himself to blame for not studying the lie of the land whilst under dual-control instruction. He should remember, however, that a machine flown solo will rise much more quickly than when two persons are carried, as in dual-control work, and, therefore, it behoves him to keep an eye on the height indicator or aneroid, and see that he does not get higher than he has previously been accustomed to. Again, it is inadvisable for him on his first solo flight to venture into the clouds, where he may easily get lost. He should also remember that, when flying down wind, he will cover the ground very much more quickly than when flying against the wind, which is another fact that may cause him to lose his bearings on his initial flight.


      There is now only the landing to be considered. The pupil knows already that he has to land against the wind, and not facing obstacles, such as woods or hangars. Moreover, he must not land over such obstacles, as they may easily put him off his straight glide to earth, which is the best kind of landing for him to attempt at present. He should know approximately at what height and at what position over the ground he should switch off or throttle down his engine in order to hit off the point on which he intends to land, and on reaching this position he should throttle down his engine fully. On most machines the throttle is set when closed so as to allow the engine to tick over at 200 or 300 revolutions per minute. He must put the nose of the machine down firmly and gradually until the desired gliding angle and speed are attained (this is generally about the average flying speed), and then watch the ground carefully. If there be other machines on the ground which baulk him, it is a wise plan to switch on and to make another circuit while the ground clears. If he overshoots his mark, owing to faulty judgment, or if he sees that he is going to undershoot, it is a good plan to make another circuit, so as to give himself the best possible chance of effecting a good landing. In the latter case he could, of course, switch on his engine, and having gained the necessary distance by flying level in place of gliding, throttle down again, but this may put him off his glide and upset his calculations.
      Assuming that he sees that he will hit off the landing ground correctly, he must watch the earth most intently, keeping up his correct glide, angle and speed all the while. When he gets within 20 ft. or 30 ft. of the earth he can begin almost imperceptibly to flatten out by manipulating the control lever in just the same way as that in which he took the machine off the ground a few minutes before. Still watching the ground intently about 20 yds. or 30 yds., or even more, in front of the machine, he continues to pull back the lever ever so gently until he gradually decreases his flying angle, and, finally, as the machine loses its flying speed, its angle of descent is blended in the horizontal of the ground without the slightest jerk, and the machine comes to earth. In easing back the control lever, it may be necessary at times to pause momentarily, or even to move the stick forward slightly, if the backward movement has been made too suddenly, or too much, and has resulted in the machine being unduly held up, or even made to "balloon." The whole art of landing consists in accurately timing the relative position of the ground and the machine by the eye working in perfect unison with the hand. The reason why the pilot must look ahead to land, and not directly beneath him, can be explained by reference to the fact that in a fast travelling railway train single sleepers on the track can be seen if the observer looks ahead out of the window, whereas if he looks down beneath him the sleepers pass him in a continuous blur. So in landing; the further one looks ahead the slower the ground appears to be travelling, and vice versa.

If the pilot makes a fast landing and pulls the stick back too quickly in order to get his tail on the ground, he will balloon, as shown in the upper illustration. If he makes a slow landing, he will be far more likely to land safely, even on bad ground. The lower illustration shows what happens when a machine, landing fast, strikes a ridge or uneven part of ground.

      A pupil must remember from his earliest flying experience that he must put the nose of the machine down if for any reason the engine stops or slows. Generally speaking, he will come to no harm through going too fast in the air, which simply means that he is going downwards; but he will easily get into difficulties if he tries to fly too slowly, which means that he is trying to climb the machine at an angle so great that there is not sufficient speed of air under the wings to maintain them in flight. He must also remember the importance of keeping the machine heading perfectly straight in the direction in which it is intended to land (this direction being determined at a height of several hundred feet above the ground), and of not allowing it to swing out of its course, either owing to bumps or to the necessity of having to use more engine.

Land on a Mark

      No pupil can expect to make a perfect landing at the first, nor yet the second attempt. It is all a matter of practise, and the best way to obtain proficiency is to practise landings. He can also practise landing on one particular spot in the aerodrome. By flying in a big aerodrome he is all too apt to allow the machine to land where it wants to, instead of making it land where he wants it. This tendency should be strenuously avoided, and the pupil, especially when he becomes more proficient in the use of "S" turns, should always fix on some definite spot on the ground where he intends to land, and then make his machine land as near that spot as possible. To begin with, he should not make his "S" turns too near the ground, but as he becomes more proficient he can turn lower and lower, always remembering that if he has plenty of speed on the machine he will also have plenty of control over it. The reverse is equally true.

Landing Mishaps

      There are two alternative faults in landing, one very much worse because it is more dangerous than the other.

Bad landings. "Pancaking," result of flattening out too high; and the effect of omitting to flatten out, or flattening out too late.

      A pupil can either fail to flatten out and thus fly into the ground, in which case he probably smashes his machine in landing by turning it over; or he flattens out too much or too early. In the latter case a "pancake," or, if it be between 10 ft. and 20 ft., a ''stall" results. A pancake means that the machine lands, several feet up in the air instead of on the ground, and then, having lost its flying speed, it pancake, or drops to earth. If the pancake is not very pronounced, no damage may be done, as the elastic shock absorbers on the under-carriage will take up a great deal of it.
      When the machine has once landed the pilot should allow the tail to drop on to the ground of its own accord. He must not pull it back onto the ground, for if this is done the machine will often leave the ground again for a height of several feet. In some machines the tail is purposely held up off the ground as long as possible.

Preventing a bad landing by putting on the engine after bouncing. Fast and slow landings and their ultimate effect on the "carry" of the machine.

      A worse variety of pancake will result in a broken undercarriage, but no other damage to machine or pupil. The worst form of pancake, which takes place when the machine loses its flying speed at a height of 20 ft. to 30 ft., often develops into a stall, which means that the machine loses its flying speed in mid-air, followed probably by a sideslip, when the machine crashes down on one wing and is hopelessly smashed. In this case the pupil may be hurt, although, if the height is not great, he may not be seriously injured, as the wings act as a cushion to the blow by breaking up and thus absorbing the shock. The only method of saving such a catastrophe is to put the nose of the machine down to allow it to regain its flying speed, or else put on the engine and so allow it to pull the machine out of its precarious position: both these operations could only be performed by experts, as the air space is generally too small to allow of this evolution being performed successfully. An expert would get the machine to earth safely by putting the control lever forward and then moving it back again instantly; but the operation requires a quick touch and an accurate eye if it is to be performed successfully. Pupils should not try such a manoeuvre, as it will generally result in their flying into the ground. If the engine has failed, they will do better to allow the machine to pancake.

Bouncing and Bumpy Landings

      There is another faulty method of landing, which results in the machine leaping or bouncing over the ground, owing to its speed being too great when it touches the ground first and the angle of descent not being sufficiently small to allow it to run along the ground. The best method of counteracting this fault is to put on the engine slightly between the bumps and then to flatten out and attempt to make a better landing. This also is by no means an easy operation, even for an expert, whose machine may have been made to bump unexpectedly by striking a ridge of ground, or an unseen bank. If the pupil pulls back the control lever too quickly, when the machine still has flying speed, he will "balloon," or go up, and had better then put his engine on and try again after another circuit. On most machines an ideal landing would be to allow the tail skid and the wheels to touch the ground together. This is called a three-point landing and indicates that the machine has been held off the ground up to the very last moment.
      In landing, it is always good practice to come down slowly and to attempt to strike the ground at the lowest possible speed in conjunction with safety. This does not mean that it is advisable to glide as slowly as possible, as this is dangerous practise, and, and if turns be attempted on a glide of this kind a stall may result. Instead, it means that when the machine is within 15 ft. to 30 ft. of the ground the speed may be cut down so that the velocity is as low as possible near the ground. The advantage of this is that the run, or the carry, of the machine when it has once landed is considerably reduced, which assists the pilot in making a landing in a small field. If he landed very fast his carry would be further, and there would be more chance of his running into obstacles or turning over if he had to land on soft ground.
      Some pupils, when they see that they are going to over-shoot the mark, instead of making another circuit and profiting by their previous mistake, attempt to hit off their landing place by bringing the machine down at a much steeper angle than its ordinary flying speed. This is a common fault and is quite ineffectual, because the machine will have gathered so much extra speed on its descent that it will lose its flying speed much more slowly when flattened out, and will glide across the aerodrome and finally run into a hedge or dyke at the other end owing to its increased momentum.


      The last point in aerodrome flying, and by no means the least important, is the manipulation of the machine in taxying. This means driving the machine on the ground and steering it with the rudder. Sometimes the ailerons are also worked, but in the opposite direction to that adopted in the air, i.e., the control lever is moved to the left if it is desired to turn the machine to the right; the right aileron comes down and acts as an air brake on that side, so that the machine turns about that wing tip. Taxying should always be done' slowly, especially on bad ground, as much damage can be done to a machine by rough or careless handling.

Taxying down wind. In taxying down wind, keep the control lever central or a little in front of central, so that the wind cannot get under the elevator and overturn the machine. In landing in a strong wind, wait for mechanics to hold down the wings before taxying back to the shed.

      When it is desired to turn the machine on the ground it is sometimes advisable to get up a little speed, raising the tail of the machine by putting the control lever forward and then ruddering in the desired direction. On some machines the rudder and tail skids are interconnected, and, in consequence, the machine can be steered on the ground with the greatest accuracy and ease. If a machine repeatedly swings sideways when landed or being taxied, the under-carriage is probably out of line with it, and must be trued up. When taxying over heavy or rutty ground it is a good plan to hold the control lever well back so as to keep the tail of the machine on the ground. When taxying across ruts an excessive amount of engine should never be used, for if this is done and the tail of the machine be up, there is an excellent chance of the whole aeroplane falling over on its nose. In windy weather it is sometimes very difficult to control the movements of the machine on the ground, in which case it is always advisable to order two mechanics to hold the wing tip struts and escort the pilot back to the sheds, or out to the starting ground, as the case may be. In taxying down wind keep the stick forward so that the wind cannot get under the elevator, which is down, and so blow the machine on to its nose.

Obtaining a Pilot's Certificate

      When the pupil has made one or two successful flights he may wish to qualify for his pilot's certificate, which is issued by the Royal Aero Club of Great Britain and Ireland. His instructor will provide him with the necessary forms, which he has to fill up and forward, together with his photograph and the sum of £1 1s. to the Club whereupon his name will be placed upon the list of pilots, and he will receive his brevet or ticket, which resembles a motorcar license, and is useful to take with him on cross-country flights, where it can always be used as a reference or proof of identity. The address of the secretary is 3, Clifford Street, New Bond Street, London, W.1.
      The test imposed before the certificate is issued is a simple one. The pilot must make two solo flights and execute a certain number of figure-of-eight turns in the air. He must also land with his engine cut off from a height of 100 metres, whilst on the first part of the test he must land within a certain distance of two marks on the ground. It does not follow, however, that because a pupil has taken his ticket he is an expert aviator. The ticket flight is the simplest possible test, and he still has a long way to go before becoming a qualified pilot. The chapters that follow will show that this is so.


Home   Buy eBooks   London Miscellany   Buy Maps   View Cart

Cookie Policy

Copyright Bruce Hunt

Valid XHTML 1.0 Transitional    Valid CSS