Simanaitis Says

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A PILOT’S VIEW, EPISODE 2

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.

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The 1912 Avro Type F, renowned for its enclosed cabin, a world’s first.

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.

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My Avro Type F in Microsoft Flight Simulator.

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.

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A pilot’s view, Act 2, Scene 1, over Brooklands School of Flying, 1912. The Avro Type F.

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.

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The 1913 Sikorsky Russky Vityaz had a large cabin as well as a forward open balcony.

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).

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My Russky Vityaz for Microsoft Flight Simulator features no less than Tsar Nicholas II on its balcony.

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.

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A pilot’s view, Act 2, Scene 2, over St. Petersburg, Russia, 1913. The Sikorsky Russky Vityaz.

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.

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Control scheme of the Jenny, from The Curtiss Standard JN-4D Military Tractor Hand Book, 1918.

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).

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The Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, introduced in 1915, became the iconic biplane of the 1920s (http://wp.me/p2ETap-J3).

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.

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A pilot’s view, Act 2, Scene 3, over Hammondsport, N.Y.,  c. 1920. The Curtiss JN-4 Jenny, a Microsoft Flight Simulator default design. To add appropriate open-exhaust delight, visit http://goo.gl/Dea5v9.

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

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This entry was posted on June 17, 2014 by in Vintage Aero and tagged , , , .
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