18 Jan 1916. Imbros
After being shot down, Bunnie had ten days away from flying. I don’t know what precipitated the change, but from now on he was to spend virtually all his time in the single seat Bristol Scout (or Bullet, as he called it). Was it because of his natural aptitude for flying? Was it because of operational needs? It’s impossible to know.
But it wasn’t a straightforward transition for him. He was 6ft 3in (1.90m) and the cockpit of the Scout was famously small. Cecil Lewis (6ft 4in) describes his only encounter with a Bristol Scout which ended in a crash. The reason is that as you push the rudder bar with one foot, the other knee inevitably rises, and – if you are particularly tall – contacts the fuselage crossmember at the bottom of the instrument panel. Cecil Lewis didn’t check this and when he needed full rudder to check a swing on landing he couldn’t get it.
Bunnie had been asked to try a Scout for size at Chingford and identified the problem, but the authorities had ignored his request to be posted to a seaplane outfit.
And this was the point at which he identified that he could just get enough room for his knees if he removed the seat cushion. As regular readers will know, I am exactly Bunnie’s height and can confirm that this is a satisfactory solution, though in my case I have to remove my shoes as well, since we raised the footrests by half an inch in order to fit a carry-through cable which was pretty essential structurally but seems mysteriously to have been removed during the redesign from the B type to the C type.
And today, he went up in Bristol Scout 1261 for half an hour.
Here’s his logbook entry.
First flip in a fast machine. Beautiful calm day. Machine showed some slight tendency to spin on getting off, but corrected it quite easily. Did not find that Voisin had made me very heavy handed. Did not like right handed turns at first, but got better towards end. Flew in at 53 m.p.h. and made quite nice landing. She tried to spin when her tail came down, but I had engine on and kept it straight. On the whole much easier to fly than I expected, though not so comfortable as pusher.
And having stopped for a quick cup of tea, he was off again.
Weather still absolutely calm. Right hand turns still a bit funny, but got all right, though a bit uncertain, at end. Landed from 3000 ft without engine. Came down at 60 m.p.h. and made decent landing. Lost engine so could not prevent her spinning about 45° to left at end of run.
His record of landing speeds has been useful to us in our early flights. I’ve found no problem with turns to right or left, but I’ve only done pretty gentle ones, and steeply banked turns are the ones where the gyroscopic effects of the engine would be expected to kick in, in which case right turns would be the ones to cause problems, since you would initiate the turn with right rudder, and then have to use left rudder while in the turn to keep the nose from dropping. This was the only time he flew 1261; she survived until the August when she was tipped on her nose – probably by Sam Kincaid.
From → Granddad's Flying Career