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TGPLANES AVIATION DIRECTORY --
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LONDON TO MANCHESTER

 

The last of the great contests to arouse public enthusiasm was the London to Manchester Flight of 1910. As far back as 1906, the Daily Mail had offered a prize of L10,000 to the first aviator who should accomplish this journey, and, for a long time, the offer was regarded as a perfectly safe one for any person or paper to make it brought forth far more ridicule than belief. Punch offered a similar sum to the first man who should swim the Atlantic and also for the first flight to Mars and back within a week, but in the spring of 1910 Claude Grahame White and Paulhan, the famous French pilot, entered for the 183 mile run on which the prize depended. Both these competitors flew the Farman biplane with the 50-horse power Gnome motor as propulsive power. Grahame White surveyed the ground along the route, and the L. & N. W. Railway Company, at his request, whitewashed the sleepers for 100 yards on the north side of all junctions to give him his direction on the course. The machine was run out on to the starting ground at Park Royal and set going at 5.19 a.m. on April 23rd. After a run of 100 yards, the machine went up over Wormwood Scrubs on its journey to Normandy, near Hillmorten, which was the first arranged stopping place en route; Grahame White landed here in good trim at 7.20 a.m., having covered 75 miles and made a world's record cross country flight. At 8.15, he set off again to come down at Whittington, four miles short of Lichfield, at about 9.20, with his machine in good order except for a cracked landing skid. Twice, on this second stage of the journey, he had been caught by gusts of wind which turned the machine fully round toward London, and, when over a wood near Tamworth, the engine stopped through a defect in the balance springs of two exhaust valves; although it started up again after a 100 foot glide, it did not give enough power to give him safety in the gale he was facing. The rising wind kept him on the ground throughout the day, and, though he hoped for better weather, the gale kept up until the Sunday evening. The men in charge of the machine during its halt had attempted to hold the machine down instead of anchoring it with stakes and ropes, and, in consequence of this, the wind blew the machine over on its back, breaking the upper planes and the tail. Grahame White had to return to London, while the damaged machine was prepared for a second flight. The conditions of the competition enacted that the full journey should be completed within 24 hours, which made return to the starting ground inevitable.

 

Louis Paulhan, who had just arrived with his Farman machine, immediately got it unpacked and put together in order to be ready to make his attempt for the prize as soon as the weather conditions should admit. At 5.31 p.m., on April 27th, he went up from Hendon and had traveled 50 miles when Grahame White, informed of his rival's start, set out to overtake him. Before nightfall, Paulhan landed at Lichfield, 117 miles from London, while Grahame White had to come down at Roden, only 60 miles out. The English aviator's chance was not so small as it seemed, for, as Latham had found in his cross-Channel attempts, engine failure was more the rule than the exception, and a very little thing might reverse the relative positions.

 

A special train accompanied Paulhan along the Northwestern route, conveying Madame Paulhan, Henry Farman, and the mechanics who fitted the Farman biplane together. Paulhan himself, who had flown at a height of 1,000 feet, spent the night at Lichfield, starting again at 4.9 a.m. On the 28th, passing Stafford at 4.45, Crewe at 5.20, and landing at Burnage, near Didsbury, at 5.32, having had a clean run.

 

Meanwhile, Grahame White had made a most heroic attempt to beat his rival. An hour before dawn on the 28th, he went to the small field in which his machine had landed, and in the darkness managed to make an ascent from ground which made starting difficult even in daylight. Purely by instinct and his recollection of the aspect of things the night before, he had to clear telegraph wires and a railway bridge, neither of which he could possibly see at that hour. His engine, too, was faltering, and it was obvious to those who witnessed his start that its note was far from perfect.

 

At 3.50 he was over Nuneaton and making good progress; between Atherstone and Lichfield the wind caught him and the engine failed more and more, until at 4.13 in the morning he was forced to come to earth, having covered 6 miles less distance than in his first attempt. It was purely a case of engine failure, for, with full power, he would have passed over Paulhan just as the latter was preparing for the restart. Taking into consideration the two machines, there is little doubt that Grahame White showed the greater flying skill, although he lost the prize.

 

After landing and hearing of Paulhan's victory, on which he wired congratulations, he made up his mind to fly to Manchester within the 24 hours. He started at 5 o'clock in the afternoon from Poles worth, his landing place, but was forced to land at 5.30 at Whittington, where he had landed on the previous Saturday. The wind, which had forced his descent, fell again and permitted of starting once more; on this third stage he reached Lichfield, only to make his final landing at 7.15 p.m., near the Trent Valley station. The defective running of the Gnome engine prevented his completing the course, and his Farman machine had to be brought back to London by rail.

 

The presentation of the prize to Paulhan was made the occasion for the announcement of a further competition, consisting of a 1,000-mile flight round a part of Great Britain. In this, nineteen competitors started, and only four finished; the end of the race was a great fight between Beaumont and Vedrines, both of whom scorned weather conditions in their determination to win. Beaumont made the distance in a flying time of 22 hours 28 minutes 19 seconds, and Vedrines covered the journey in a little over 23 1/2 hours. Valentine came third on a Deperdussin monoplane and S. F. Cody on his Cathedral biplane was fourth. This was in 1911, and by that time heavier-than-air flight had so far advanced that, some pilots had had war experience in the Italian campaign in Tripoli, while long cross-country flights were an everyday event, and bad weather no longer counted.

 

 
 
Section 1
The Period of Legend | Early Experiments | Sir George-Thomas | The Middle 19 Century | Wenham Bris & Others | The Age of Giants | Lili & Pilcher | American Gliding Experiments | Not Proven | Samuel Langley | The Wright Brothers | First Year of Conquest | First Flier in England | Rhems and After | The Channel Crossing | London to Manchester | Summary to 1911 | Summa to 1914 | The War Period-I | The War Period-II | Reconstruction | 1919-1920

 

 
Section 2
The Beginnings | Multiplicity of Ideas | Progress on Standardized Lines | The War Period
 

 
Section 3
The Beginning | The First Dirigibles | Santos Dumont | The Military Dirigible | British Airship Design | The Airship Commercially | Kite Balloons
 

 
Section4
The Vertical Type | The Vee Type | The Radial Type | The Rotatory Type | The Horizontal Opposed Engine | The Two Stroke Cycle Engine | Engines of the War Period
 
 
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