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194. Job Done


Today marked another major milestone in the project.

We had earmarked today (Friday) to continue (and hopefully complete) the test flying programme. I’d made some changes as discussed in earlier posts, and we would be able to see if they were effective.

Rick and I arrived at about 1100 at Bicester to find Dodge champing at the bit.

First job was to see if our spring modification would stop the bloc-tube (throttle) lever from slowly shutting itself when you let go of it when the engine was running. Before we started, it was pretty much okay from 0 (fully closed) to 3 and from 7 to 10 (fully open), but would gradually close itself in between 3 and 7.

We increased the spring tension gradually until the throttle pretty much stayed where it was put at about 5, but at about 7 it would steadily open itself up to full power. Humpf. Scout 1, Bremners 0.

We removed the spring and restored the status quo.

Next, we checked the amount of oil coming down the sides of the fuselage. After 5 minutes, it was pretty much okay, but we’d have to wait for a longer flight to judge.

After that, the weather was eminently suitable to go flying so we hauled the aeroplane to the middle of the field. First up was the test of the flying performance with the centre of gravity as far aft as possible. For this we had minimum fuel and about 9kg of lead flashing wrapped round the tailplane struts. Dodge climbed out steadily, and 20 minutes later landed and taxied back to say that while it flew pretty horribly, it did fly, and was, in his opinion, good enough for a Permit to Fly.

He’d also rechecked the maximum speed in level flight, and it was a little faster, but not enough to make any difference.


After 20 minutes, the oil was pretty bad. And if Dodge looks very cheerful about it, that's because he can's see the oil from inside the cockpit!

After 20 minutes, the oil was pretty bad. And if Dodge looks very cheerful about it, that’s because he can’s see the oil from inside the cockpit!



The oil on the fuselage side was slightly better than the worst case before, but it was still leaking between the cowling and the side shield, and we felt that on the whole this modification hadn’t achieved its objective either. Still, the flying results were good, and overall, we felt that the score was probably 2 all.

The next item on the list was a repeat of the time-to-climb, with, we hoped, the engine pulling properly. For this we needed the petrol tank pretty full and the lead removed from the tail. Dodge set off again, and by the time he’d finished his five minute climb had disappeared right out of sight.


He also completed the Vne dive. This is the slightly scary bit where he dives the aircraft to the maximum speed he feels comfortable with, and if nothing falls off that’s set as the maximum speed the aircraft is approved to. Well, nothing fell off, and he felt sufficiently good about the aircraft to carry out a low pass for the cameras.

Half an hour later he landed back.



As you can see, the oil problem isn’t solved, and the climb performance, while safe, isn’t what we’d have hoped for. It’s currently around 400 feet per minute, and we would have expected more like double that. Nevertheless, it’s sufficient for now, and so Dodge said he was happy on the whole to recommend the aircraft for the issue of a Permit to Fly.

Dodge now has to submit the flight test report, together with some pilot’s notes to assist others (primarily us!) to fly it successfully. I need to put together some notes on maintenance of the aircraft.

And all of these must be sent in to Francis Donaldson at the Light Aircraft Association (LAA) to compile his report which will go to the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) who will issue the Permit to Fly.

And that, will mean that we, the owners, can decide where it’s flown, by whom, and under what conditions, instead of the LAA. Whew!

To be honest, although this marks a very important step in the whole project, my emotions were engaged, not so much by the prospect that we might get to fly it ourselves shortly, but the sight of 1264 drifting above us in the clear blue sky, engine purring happily, and looking positively ethereal with her translucent dragonfly wings.

2015-09-18 Bristol Scout test flying Bicester 004 (800x604)

She’s a quite unique sight. All the other early WWI machines with clear doped wings are large two-seaters like the BE2c and the Avro 504K and one tends to associate the two features together – clear doped wings means large and cumbersone.1264 breaks the mould – here is a clear-doped aircraft that is small and manoeuvrable, and it’s a huge pleasure to be able to watch her from below.

It's a strange feeling, watching your very, very precious machine so very far up in the sky. But it's wonderful too, and we are so lucky to be able to witness it.

It’s a strange feeling, watching your very, very precious machine so very far up in the sky. But it’s wonderful too, and we are so lucky to be able to witness it.



Another very, very exciting possibility was raised today. But nothing’s been confirmed yet, so it will have to remain under wraps. For the moment.


From → Flying

  1. CURTIS, Duncan permalink


    If I owned a hat, it would have been doffed a number of times already! What you’ve done with 1264 is bordering on fine art and I can only watch from afar and admire the intent and the execution of what you’ve done.

    My local (sadly disused) airfield at Yatesbury used to house the odd Bristol Scout (mainly with 55 Reserve Sqn), so I feel some kind of affinity with your machine: I’m gradually researching the history of Yatesbury’s Great War period and have had a few articles published by Cross & Cockade magazine. Nowadays I work for Airbus at Filton, where I guess the original Scouts were designed and built. I’m sure that Barnwell did his work during this period in Old Filton House, which has recently been restored and returned to its early 20th Century guise.

    I’d dearly love to get a look at your aircraft – are you able to advise on any appearances that she might make in the coming months? (apologies for use of ‘she’, but a lifetime working in the aviation world does validate the term on special occasions!).

    And congratulations on gaining your Permit.


    Duncan Curtis

    • Dear Duncan
      You are too kind. We’ve been privileged and unbelievably lucky to work on such a wonderful project, to find all the necessary information and to get assistance from such fantastically generous people.
      Actually, Barnwell designed the prototype at No. 4 Fairlawn Avenue, while still under contract to the Admiralty on the top secret Bristol-Burney machine. He’d moved back to Filton House by the time he did the major modifications for the type C. As a result of the Admiralty contract (and also because the Filton works was full of BE2cs being built under contract to the Royal Aircraft Factory) the prototype, the Type Bs and, I think, the first batch of Type Cs were built at the Brislington tram works which had been used to build the Bristol-Burney in secret.
      We haven’t any current plans to display the aircraft in Bristol, though we have spoken to people at the Bristol Aircraft Collection at Filton, and I would love to erect it outside the sheds at Larkhill, where the prototype first flew.

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