CitationDownload as .RIS
Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2008, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Centenary of British flight
Centenary of British flight
Two notable events are commemorated in 2008, 100 years of powered flight in Briton and the publication of the 80th volume of Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology.
The first powered flight in Britain was achieved by the flamboyant American- born pilot Colonel Samuel F. Cody, who on 16 October 1908 was at the controls of “British Army Aeroplane No. 1”. The flight, near Farnborough, Hampshire, covered all of 1,390ft, marking the birth of powered flight in the UK. Insuring Cody's place in history as the first man to build and fly an aeroplane in Britain. In 1913, Col. Cody was killed in an air crash at Farnborough.
The development of the aircraft industry in Britain, from its primitive beginnings in 1908 were exciting times for those involved. Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology has had the privilege of recording 80 of these 100 years. The journal first appeared, under its original title Aircraft Engineering, in March 1929. Its founder and editor until his retirement in 1962, was the late Lt-Colonel William Lockwood Marsh, QBE, MA, LLB, FAIAA, MSAE, FRAeS. Born in 1886, he was a barrister by training, but his intense interest in aeronautics led him to write many articles for the burgeoning aeronautical press prior to the World War I.
During World War I he served in the Anti-Aircraft Corps and the Airship Service of the Royal Naval Air Service before becoming a member of the civil air transport committee in 1917 and subsequently head of the equipment branch in the admiralty transport department prior to, in 1919, entering the Department of Civil Aviation at the Air Ministry. Lockwood Marsh was responsible for the organisation of the International Air Congress held in London at the invitation of the government. He was its secretary and edited its 1,000-page report.
According to one of the journal's former editors, Charles Keil (1959- 1965), Lockwood Marsh, could with justification be described as one of the unsung heroes of British aviation. He not only launched Aircraft Engineering and remaining its editor for 32 years, but was also the Secretary of the Royal Aeronautical Society from 1920 to 1925. He voluntarily resigned this position to help with cost cutting when the society faced financial difficulties in the post World War I era and he was largely responsible for building the foundations of the RAeS library by persuading the carnegie fund to provide funding to purchase rare books.
It is also of interest to note that when, in 1930, he was elected a fellow of the Royal Aeronautical Society, his proposal was signed by some of the giants of the aviation and scientific world – Sir Henry Tizard, Lord Brabazon, Sir Geoffrey de Havilland and H.E. Wimperis.
That first issue of Aircraft Engineering gave a taste of what was to come – articles on French commercial planes, tail flutter, the streamlining of air-cooled engines, Italian light aeroplanes, machine tools, aircraft weight and efficiency of the autogyro in addition to what were to become regular features on research reports and new patents.
Lockwood Marsh a leading expert on the subject of airships, was in the 1930s, invited to visit the Zeppelin works in Friedrichshafen, Germany. His report and photographs of the visit almost fill the pages of that month's issue of the journal.
An innovation introduced in the early 1960s which was enthusiastically received by the readers was to devote the whole of an issue of Aircraft Engineering to one specific topic or one specific aircraft. So comprehensive technical appraisals were published of, for example, the DH125, Belfast, Super VC10, Trident, One-Eleven and 748. These took the form of contributed articles by the designers describing each aircraft's aerodynamic and structural design, power plants and systems, and complete issues of Aircraft Engineering were devoted to, for example, aircraft transparencies, plastics in aircraft and the development of synthetic resin adhesives.
On his retirement Lockwood Marsh sold Aircraft Engineering to Sawell publications, who retained the journals format including the innovation mentioned above.
Alan Arnold Griffith, British aeronautical engineer, chief theoretical scientist for Rolls-Royce Ltd, designed the Rolls-Royce “Flying Bedstead,” an ungainly jet-powered contraption that in 1954 demonstrated unwinged vertical takeoff and landing; in Farnborough, England. This weird and wonderful contraption developed into the Harrier jump jet, which became a subject for another comprehensive technical appraisal in the pages of AEAT. This in turn was later published as a booklet.
One of the photographs used in this Harrier article turned out to be security classified. This resulted in a member of the spook community confronting the then publishers, Sawell publications, with the prospect of incarceration in the tower. However, when the photograph was produced stamped with a ministry clearance for publication, an apologetic spook departed. As a precaution against future legal action the photograph in question was kept in the company safe for several years.
Over its 80 volumes, the backbone of the journal's editorial content has been the papers and technical articles contributed by leading academics and engineers. These papers and articles have record the switch from wood to metal in aircraft structures, the development of jet propulsion and the research/development and design of space craft and satellites.
The Colonel was a man of many parts – lawyer, soldier/airman, administrator, and company director (on the Board of Marsh Brothers, the family Sheffield steel company) as well as publisher, editor, author and journalist and a collector of rare aeronautical books and prints. Lockwood Marsh died in 1963 aged 77.
However, the journal he founded has surveyed, and under the management of its present owners, the Emerald Press Group, has retained the role laid down for it by the redoubtable Colonel. That of a respected publication dedicated to the science and practice of aeronautics and to the allied and subsidiary branches of the engineering industry.
It would be wrong to end this paper without a mentioning Sir George Cayley, as aviation did not begin on the beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina in December 1903. In fact, the first manned, heavier-than-air flights in a fixed wing (albeit unpowered) aircraft took place in a small village outside Scarborough in North Yorkshire 50 years before the Wright Brothers took to the skies and unrecorded, until now, in the pages of Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology.
Sir George Cayley lived in Brompton- by-Sawdon. He had served as the MP for Scarborough and was the founder of Westminster University, but this is not how he is best-remembered. Sir George Cayley is credited with being the father of aviation as he worked out the forces acting on an aircraft in flight – lift, weight, thrust and drag. He engraved a silver medallion with the forces acting upon an aircraft in flight on one side, and his design for a glider on the other.
As early as 1804, Cayley's model gliders were similar in design to modern aircraft, with fixed, mono wings towards the front of the craft and horizontal stabilisers and a vertical fin forming the tail unit.
Cayley built a glider, that carried a ten- year old boy, sometime before 1849. Then, in 1853, on a windy day in 1853, Cayley forced his coachman into a makeshift man – carrying glider, rolled him down a hill, and turned him into the first man to fly in a heavier-than-air craft.
After his history-making exploit, aviation's first, albeit conscripted, unknown hero resigned. The coachman, telling Cayley that he was hired to drive a coach and not to fly, or words to that effect.