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THE FIRST pilots moved levers forward and aft, wiggled their hips or shoulders this way or that and gripped wheels, only some of which steered. (See http://wp.me/p2ETap-2aF.) Before long, however, controls evolved into a joystick or yoke for roll and pitch, with a rudder bar or pedals for yaw. Cockpits also evolved, though views forward continued to offer plenty of variety.
Here’s A Pilot’s View, Episode 2, Acts 1-3, featuring the 1912 Avro Type F, the 1913 Sikorsky Russky Vityaz and 1915 Curtiss JN-4 Jenny.
Alliott Verdon Roe, 1877 – 1958, was a pioneer English pilot who set up his Avro aircraft manufacturing firm in 1910. Roe’s earliest aeroplanes had open structure with no cockpit per se, but in 1912 his Type F featured an enclosed cabin. See http://wp.me/p2ETap-16B.
The Avro’s cabin had windows “glazed” with celluloid and a pair of open ports through which the pilot could pop his head for a clear view.
The cabin wasn’t very wide, less than two feet across, and it must have been a racket within. But it was a start.
In less than a year, the 1913 Russky Vityaz (Russian Knight) offered more than a cramped cabin for its pilot. Igor Sikorsky, 1889 – 1972, designed, built and flew this giant aeroplane, the world’s first four-engine craft.
The Russky Vityaz offered enclosed accommodation for its pilot, co-pilot and as many as eight passengers. Double doors ahead of the flight deck opened onto a balcony featuring a searchlight (and, on occasion, a machine gun).
In August, 1913, the Russky Vityaz established a record flight of 1 hour 54 minutes with eight passengers aboard. It was shown they could move around the cabin without upsetting the aeroplane’s stability.
The Russky Vityaz flight deck had dual control columns and instrumentation monitoring its four engines. I like to think the table in its passenger compartment contained a samovar.
World War I accelerated the development of aircraft on all fronts. (See http://wp.me/p2ETap-1RL.) Though its cockpit continued as an open one, the Curtiss JN-4 Jenny had what has come to be a conventional joystick and rudder bar.
Frenchman Robert Esnault-Pelterie, 1881 – 1957, invented the joystick, a single integrated flight control with fore/aft for pitch, left/right for roll. See http://wp.me/p2ETap-1nY for information on Esnault-Pelterie’s Goupy II (and a great portrait photo of him).
The pilot of a Jenny had the wonderful view (and noise!) of a Curtiss OX-5 V-8 engine. For more OX-5 details, see http://wp.me/p2ETap-rz.
The Jenny pilot had a full set of instruments to monitor its engine, fuel and progress through the air. And the feel of the rushing airflow.
But was this last experience really necessary? ds
© Dennis Simanaitis, SimanaitisSays.com, 2014