Flight, May 1920
BORN 1916 - STILL GOING STRONG
ONE of the many allegations made against aircraft is that their life is very short, a year of flying being often put as the limit of the useful life of an aeroplane. A good instance of the fallacy of this argument
is furnished by the famous L. and P. biplane, designed for that firm by Mr. A. A. Fletcher, who is now chief designer to the Central Aircraft Co., and built in 1916. The machine was fully described in FLIGHT of July 27, 1916. The accompanying photograph shows the machine as she looks today after having been thoroughly overhauled and fitted with a 100 h.p. Anzani engine instead of the 60 h.p. Anzani originally fitted. This machine, which is now advertised for sale (see Adv. pages), has had a most interesting career, and the fact that she is still in first-class condition speaks volumes for the soundness of the design and for the quality of the workmanship put into her by the original builders. While owned by the London and Provincial Co. the machine did a tremendous amount of stunt flying in the hands of such pilots as Smiles, Warren and others. She has made goodness only knows how many loops, not to mention other stunts.
During the War the machine was used for experimental purposes, the uses to which she was put being many and varied. There is no space here to give a detailed account of all she did, but out of the many a few may be mentioned. It would probably give aerodynamic experts furiously to think when it is stated that this machine has flown with a set of S.E.5 wings strapped to the under side of her bottom plane, without this appearing to interfere with her flying to any appreciable extent. It does not seem unlikely that, although the original purpose of these tests was to find out whether or not it was possible to carry wings in this manner, the aerodynamical proof of the feasibility of this may be put to some other purpose in designs of the future commercial aeroplane.
Later on this machine was used for experimenting with parachute descents, of which a great many were made by the experts of Messrs. Calthrop's Aerial Patents, and it is probable that there is not another machine in existence in England today from which so many parachute jumps have been made. One might go on recounting the experiments carried out with this machine, but sufficient has been indicated to show that hers has been no life of leisure. Yet here she is, as good as ever, ready to show that, given reasonable care, a machine will last for years, even when being used for experimental work of a varied and strenuous nature.
An L&P Biplane taxies out at Stag Lane during one of the famous joyriding sessions organised on April 24, 1919. Note the cattle grazing in the background.
Stag Lane at Easter 1919 and a London & Provincial Co's L and P Biplane joyriding.
A young lady, overseen by perhaps her mother, ready for a flight in an L&P Biplane. Note the crude structure and compare this with the initial machine illustrated in AE85. It is likely the fuselage had previously been white-washed for advertising purposes.
An 80hp Anzani L&P Biplane.
The biplane designed by "Tony" Fletcher for the L. & P. School at Hendon during the war. The machine might be claimed as a light 'plane, as the engine was a 60 h.p. Anzani and a passenger was carried in addition to the pilot. Among its achievements may be recalled the establishment of a record for consecutive loops, piloted by the late Mr. Smiles.
A FRISKY FOUR-YEAR-OLD: Our photograph shows the famous L. and P. looper on which Mr. Smiles set up a series of looping records at Hendon in 1916. The machine has been overhauled, and is now as good as ever
L&P Biplane G-EAQW was registered in February 1920 to R A Whitehead. It is believed to be the same aircraft as used for parachute trials at Hendon, in which case it was built at Hendon in 1916. Note the footwells in the fuselage side.
General arrangement of a Hendon-designed L&P Biplane with an 80hp Anzani. It also has two independent cockpits, rather than the 'bath tub' configuration of later models which caused the centre fuselage to flex.