Cambridge University Biplane
Flight Magazine - 8th May 1909
A HOLIDAY FLYER
BEING THE RESULT OF AN ENTERPRISING THREE WEEKS’ OCCUPATION ON THE PART OF SOME CAMBRIDGE UNDERGRADUATES.
What better way could there be of spending an Easter vacation – or for that matter any vacation – than by setting to work to build and experiment with a full-sized aeroplane? A more congenial task for those with energy and leisure it is indeed difficult to imagine in this year of grace 1909, when all humanity is anxiously awaiting the speedy maturity of the new era of flight. And the prospects, too, of such an undertaking! At worst, a healthy time in the open air, combined with hour after hour of absorbing interest; while at best, success in the conquest of a difficult task which very few men have as yet actually accomplished.In order to secure the flyer against the wind, an open-air “hanger” was constructed of poles and ropes. The above is a side view of the machine, showing the tandem arrangement of the biplanes. (Courtesy Flight Magazine) Corner pieces hinged to the main planes diagonally were provided as a means of controlling lateral stability. The photograph shows the pair on the right dipped, while those on the left are tilted. (Courtesy Flight Magazine) Two wooden propellers were arranged to be driven by continuous chain, so that if the chain broke both would be disabled. (Courtesy Flight Magazine)
Thus, with variations, were the thought of a party of go-ahead Cambridge undergraduates, Messrs. H. H. Franklin, A. E. Lowy, C. M. Spielmann and H. W. Holt to wit, when they evolved a mutually satisfactory design during term, when they bought the engine in advance, and when they ordered material in readiness to make an immediate start once they has established themselves with their hose Mr. Franklin, in his ideal home on the Chiltern Hill. Here, with a large field ready to hand as a prospective aerodrome, constrictive operations were commenced without delay, and soon for large calico planes began to spread themselves to the fickle breezes. Bamboo spears and struts, assisted by diagonal bracing of piano wire, came into use for the main framework; and overhead was erected a skeleton “hanger” of rough wood posts and hempen ropes to prevent the whole device taking a premature leap into the air, as it frequently seemed inclined to do when the wind was gusty. Everything was nearly ready just in time to allow of one or two actual trials before vacation ended; but “there’s many a slip” in experimental work, and as events turn out fate denied its favour at the eleventh hour by causing one of the chassis wheels to give way, too late to allow of making good the damage. Reluctantly, therefore, the flyer had to go into retreat ere an actual flight was made with it, but even the building of it was an experience of value, as it afforded an insight into many little details otherwise apt to be totally overlooked by the enthusiastic experimenter.
The pilot, in this case Mr. H. H. Franklin, sits in the wire-suspended “chair” marked ”Tea”, and controls the lateral stability of the machine by the vertical pole held at the moment by Mr. A. E. Lowy, co-designer and builder.
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