Flight, February 1927
THE "EXPERIMENTAL LIGHT 'PLANE CLUB”
WE have received from Mr. Granger, of Nottingham, the following account of how a few enthusiasts have designed and built gliders and light aeroplanes, and the difficulties which they have encountered
and, in part at any rate, overcome :-
"I am writing to tell you of the existence of a new flying club, which may interest you because its objects go deeper than those of the clubs now in existence. Before describing it I will describe as briefly as possible its origin.
"My brother and I have always been keen on flying, but have not had (he necessary funds to proceed in the orthodox manner. In 1921 I endeavoured to build a glider, but failed through inexperience (we are still using up parts of it, When we need members of vast strength regardless of weight). In 1924 my brother (J. Granger) and I set about another glider, and with the aid of a few friends built a monoplane of 160 sq. ft., using old Avro wings and making the rest ourselves. We flew this machine once only not because it was no use but because we found it impossible to get people out on to a remote hillside at short notice (and early hours) to help to handle it. My brother was the lucky man, as he was the lightest of the party, and On this occasion spent some seconds in the air in control (to a certain extent) of a flying machine. Greatly encouraged, and winners of sundry small bets from scoffers, we set about the building of a glider so light that we two could handle it alone. Before going any further I will say that neither he nor I have ever touched the joystick of an aeroplane, though we have flown joyfully as passengers; our employment is not remotely connected with engineering in any form, and we have no friends in the aircraft world from whom to seek advice. I set about the designs of the new glider on Christmas Day, 1924. It is a biplane of 160 sq. ft. In designing it I was guided almost entirely by the study of drawings and photographs of the single-seated light 'planes published in flying papers, having no other source of information except from inquests on various scrap wings, etc., we had acquired. Working hard in our spare time, almost entirely at week-ends, we completed this machine as a glider, except for covering, by Christmas, 1925. The whole machine was cut out from the plank except for a few parts on our small circular saw and all fittings cut out of the sheet.
"At this time we met an ex-R.A.F. pilot who seemed greatly impressed with the work. The machine stood up well to tests of strength, and he proposed the installation of an engine. Owing to our experience of the difficulties of handling and housing a glider we agreed. The pilot, Mr. C. Newham, immediately set about the making of a propeller and experiments with a two-stroke engine. The glider fuselage being unsuitable, we scrapped it and set about a new one. A 400 c.c. A.B.C. engine was fitted and five propellers were made by Newham and tried. The machine was completed in July last year, after 18 months' work. We have named it the “Linnet." Without the wheels and axle weighs 207 lbs. The lightest aero wheels we could get at a price within our funds weighed 35 lbs., which was unfortunate, but could not be avoided. We had made wooden ones, but were anxious to have the shock-absorbing properties of pneumatic tyres and so have not used these. We built the machine to teach ourselves to fly, but we decided not to handle it ourselves till it had made at least one decent flight in order to confute the scoffers many and various, so our pilot took it over.
“The Air Ministry, for a nominal fee, allowed us the use of Hucknal Aerodrome, some 10 miles from our place, and between the end of July and the middle of October we sallied out hopefully nearly every Sunday morning before dawn. Unfortunately we were underpowered. When I designed the machine I had very little knowledge of wing sections, and the one employed is not efficient at low speed. Anyhow, the machine was taxied hundreds of miles round the 'drome; we have towed it across behind a car and had successful glides, and have achieved a short flight under power - about 100 yards 20 or 30 ft. up - without a single structural failure beyond a bent tail skid caused by my slamming the tail down on the ground once when taxying and nearly standing the 'bus on its head.
"During the summer we were joined by a fourth - Mr. B. Howard - and have now formed ourselves into a club. He is at present endeavouring to obtain another engine of greater power. We found that the A.B.C. when developing 6 h.p. would not quite, but very nearly, maintain the machine in the air, and we are convinced that we should fly strongly with 10 h.p. If we could obtain some light wheels we could save the difference in weight. Unfortunately funds are somewhat nebulous, and second-hand motor-cycle engines are our only possible source of power.
"In the meantime, while the engine is being sought for, the rest of the club is not idle. The old monoplane glider has been fitted with a 7-9 h.p. engine and turned into a two-seater taxying machine for practice purposes, in order to give the biplane a better chance when we start to fly it. Early in the autumn we decided to build a new machine, and the choice lay between an “Autogyro” and Capt. Hill's “Pterodactyl.” We built a 6-ft. model of the Autogyro and tested it with the draught from a propeller mounted with its engine on a bench. It rotated more or less satisfactorily, but all the gas lights were blown out and everything in the room either fell down or stuck to the ceiling, and so this work was adjourned to the open air. We found that we should have to make prolonged experiments before starting on a full-scale machine, and so turned to the Pterodactyl. I have designed a modified machine on these lines, and one wing is already complete. We hope to be able to fly it with the A.B.C., but shall try it as a glider towed behind a car first. If the A.B.C. is not powerful enough, the new 'bus will have to share an engine with the “Linnet” for the time.
"Now we have formed ourselves into a club under the title of the “Experimental Light 'Plane Club,” and our object is this - to build light aeroplanes and experiment with engines with a view to developing a machine that can be built cheaply and flown safely. The sporting side of flying, except for the wealthy man, is completely ignored in this country. In Germany they have summer camps in the Rhon valley where young men go to fly gliders from the crudest to the most perfect, and we should like to see a similar movement here.
"Secondly, we want to fly light aeroplanes and to join with us those who have the enthusiasm to work on them and maintain them. We have friends who support this idea, among them a "B" licence pilot, who has a ground engineer's certificate, and has sufficient confidence in our machine to fly it when ready. If we can raise the funds we hope to be able to acquire one of the existing light 'planes for this branch of the club.
"Our membership until we can get properly organised will be very limited. On the constructional side we need one or two more who are able and willing to work on the machines. We are also open to a few non-flying members who will help to handle the machines on the ground."