This book provides a detailed view of the British pioneering aviation sites. The main focus for aviation historians has been on people and aircraft, largely ignoring the very important sites that supported and coloured aviation development. – Very Highly Recommended
NAME: Pioneering Places of British Aviation, The Early Years Of Powered Flight In The UK FILE: R3297 AUTHOR: Bruce Hales-Dutton PUBLISHER: Air World, Pen and Sword BINDING: hard back PRICE: £19.99 GENRE: Non Fiction SUBJECT: Early 1900s, airfields, airship stations, flying boat stations, construction buildings, factories, research establishment, component manufacturers, pioneers, designers, builders, pilots, airships, balloons, land planes, float planes, amphibious aircraft, flying boats, support services, WWI, World War I, World War 1, First World War, The Great War, 1914-1918 ISBN: 1-52675-015-5 PAGES: 246, a eight page b&w photo plate section IMAGE: B3297.jpg BUYNOW: tinyurl.com/y2pzrmbr LINKS: DESCRIPTION: This book provides a detailed view of the British pioneering aviation sites. The main focus for aviation historians has been on people and aircraft, largely ignoring the very important sites that supported and coloured aviation development. – Very Highly Recommended
The British were enthusiastic and early pioneers of powered flight. The earliest flights of gliders and steam powered designs have disappeared into history but were important first steps. The great challenge was in finding a power plant that could produce the necessary thrust to get the aircraft into the air. Steam could have provided high levels of thrust but had the distinct disadvantage that its power to weight ratio was very poor. There was also the matter of fuel. Locomotives and road vehicles could carry wood or coal as fuel but an aircraft faced a higher weight for the fuel, requiring more power, requiring more fuel, and feeding the furnace was not something that could be easily done in the air. Had an alternative power source presented itself, there is a possibility that designers would have found a way of automating fuel feeding as was eventually done for some rail locomotives, where coal was crushed into a semi-liquid form and fed into the furnace by a screw system. As it was, the petrol engine became available and largely solved the problems.
Having a power source with a good power to weight ratio meant that designers around the world could start to experiment. Initially, designers worked on lighter-than-air machines, elongating the balloon gas bag and hanging a passenger container and engine underneath. This approach could have developed very much further but the heavier-then-air machine soon offered safer and faster air travel. This aeroplane type also promised a very much greater development potential. What the dirigible and air ship did offer was an easier requirement for air stations. There was a requirement for cleared space, but an airship could land on water, or on a flat land space, leaving and approaching at a steep angle. As machines grew larger, there was a need to establish airfields with mooring masts.
Aeroplanes required a more substantial airfield. Initially, the float plane and flying boat addressed the requirement by taking off from water which provided a very large open space. Land planes had the challenge of finding a flat expanse of land that could be cleared of trees and other obstructions and provided the pilots with the option to take off into which ever direction the wind was coming from. It was never the less a challenging requirement because progressively heavier aircraft required progressively longer take off and landing runs. To this was added the initial reliability of petrol engines. Engine failure during take off was an ever present risk and the pilots soon discovered that an engine failure meant continuing the flight direction and finding a clear space to crash land into. To attempt to turn back to the airfield was not an option because height was lost in each turn and the aircraft was likely to stall into the ground.
The result was that the places, where British aviation, were developed around those places that were most suitable to the requirements of access to adequate grass fields or a suitable stretch of water. At a very early stage, the amphibian developed as a way of hedging the bets, allowing the aircraft to alight on water or land as necessary.
The airship did require large hangers to contain its bulk during construction and maintenance and that requirement dictated where airships might easily be based and where factories could be built. The aeroplane was rather less demanding. Early machines were small and many were assembled in agricultural barns beside a suitable field. Some were even built in the home using a building constructed as a stables, coach house, or garage.
The author provides a carefully research analysis of early British aviation locations and a very interesting photo plate section adds to the information. A fascinating study.