The Shuttle of Empire—The Airship
Publication
The Empire Club of Canada Addresses (Toronto, Canada), 6 Aug 1930, p. 195-204
Description
Speaker
Scott, Major G.H.; Giblett, M., Speaker
Media Type
Text
Item Type
Speeches
Description
Major G.H. Scott:
The role played by the weather in the practical proposition of flying airships from England to the Dominion, and Canada in particular. Data collected in order to lay down rules applied to flying to the Dominions. Practical information gathered about the various routes to India, Australia, etc. The need to have an organization to provide information as to what weather conditions exist along the route to any Dominion at the time of flying, and changes that are likely to take place in the matter of wind and weather during the actual flight. Information exchanged with the Meteorological Service of Canada. A description of the process of flight determination in conjunction with weather reports. Examples of how weather service helps.
Mr. M. Giblett:
Airships. Endeavours in Great Britain to develop the airship for commercial purposes, and to bring the Empire together. The development of airship routes. A description of the airship flight. The question of navigation in an airship. The duties of the crew, and the general running of an airship, similar to those of a steamship. The beauty of the trip up the St. Lawrence. Some trouble experienced and how it was dealt with. Landing at Montreal. An examination of the possibilities of operating regular commercial airship flights, with a consideration of load, ports, passage, cost.
Date of Original
6 Aug 1930
Subject(s)
Language of Item
English
Copyright Statement
The speeches are free of charge but please note that the Empire Club of Canada retains copyright. Neither the speeches themselves nor any part of their content may be used for any purpose other than personal interest or research without the explicit permission of the Empire Club of Canada.
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Full Text
THE SHUTTLE OF EMPIRE--THE AIRSHIP
ADDRESSES BY MAJOR G. H. SCOTT, BRITAIN'S FOREMOST AIRSHIP EXPERT, WHO COMMANDED THE R-34 ON ITS HISTORIC FLIGHT TO THE U.S.A. IN 1919, AND MR. M. GIBLETT, METEOROLOGIST OF THE R-100, AT THE RECEPTION AND SPECIAL LUNCHEON IN HONOUR OF SQUADRON LEADER R.S. BOOTH, COMMANDER OF THE R-100; WING COMMANDER R. B. COLEMORE, DIRECTOR OF AIRSHIP DEVELOPMENT, BRITISH AIR MINISTRY MAJOR G. H. SCOTT, AND OTHER OFFICERS OF THE R-100.
6th August, 1930

VICE-PRESIDENT STAPELLS introduced MAJOR SCOTT and MR. GIBLETT, explaining that the other officers named on the announcement card were unavoidably absent. The speakers were received with loud applause on opening and closing their addresses.

MR. M. GIBLETT, Meteorologist of the R-100, spoke as follows: It may be a new idea that Meteorology--the science of the weather--enters very much into such a practical proposition as flying airships from England to the Dominion, and to Canada in particular. However, it was very early realized by Wing Commander Colemore and Major Scott, and right at the beginning of the present programme they were far-sighted enough to induce the British Treasury in 1925 to appoint a special branch of the Air Ministry to play some part in their programme, by providing them with adequate weather information along the routes which they proposed to fly. So we have been collecting data for years and years, both on land and sea, and correlating them, and trying to lay down rules as applying to flying to the Dominions. In conjunction with Major Scott, who has looked upon our work with a practical eye, we have gathered very practical information about the various routes to India, Australia, etc.

However, that is only one side of the problem. The second side is to have an organization which will provide information as to what weather conditions exist along the route to any Dominion at the time we propose to fly, and what change is likely to take place in the matter of wind and weather during that actual flight. This work very early brought me into contact with the Meteorological Service of Canada; and it is very proper that I should make my first remarks in Toronto, which is headquarters of the Meteorological Service. Sir Frederick Stupart provided us with very useful information relating to weather conditions through the heart of the route which we proposed to take. He was followed by the present Director, Mr. J. Patterson, who provided very excellent methods for actually reporting the weather on the occasion of flying, especially for this particular flight. You will realize what that means when I tell you that Mr. Patterson sent to Montreal a staff of four or five, and established there a meteorological service for saving the data practically of the whole trip, and providing weather charts four times a day, and supplying the commander with information about every kind of weather that may come along. More than that; while we were in flight from England to Canada, we were all the time receiving data from Mr. Patterson, from his office in St. Hubert, and actual observations of the wind and weather existing in his part of the route, and receiving his information on the changes that were going to take place.

You will understand, from the incidents we met in flying, that before we sailed we had weather charts checking the whole route. The first thing was for Major Scott to decide, in consultation with me, which route he proposed to take. Just before we left there was what meteorologists call a depression situated just north-west of Ireland. The result of that was that there were exceedingly strong head winds south of Ireland, but favourable conditions north of Ireland; so we had the phenomenon of our starting north in order to proceed west, so as to get the helpful wind on the north side. We followed that around, and, coming to the north of it, we deliberately allowed ourselves to come south in order to be in a position for the next storm which was coming along. The next storm was located purely from reports from Atlantic liners; and I would stress the assistance we have received from the commanders of the Atlantic liners in contributing any special observations for us when flying. They were ready to do this on a liberal scale, on a properly internationally organized basis. Through meteorological services all round and from these reports of ships, we located another depression coming up from Bermuda, and decided to turn north again. Had the commander not taken that course he might have added half a day or even more to the time we took to Montreal. That is an example of how a wind affects airships.

There is one further example showing how weather service helps us. That is, we carry on board an instrument which determines at any time the height above sea-level. That instrument is subject to correction with every change of temperature as the aircraft proceeds. That change may amount to as much as 2,000 feet, and if you do not apply this correction you may be at a point much lower than you think you are. Flying at night in clouds that are lower than you think they are, you may fly into the sea, and it is probable that some flights may have ended disastrously for not making corrections for those changes.

I will close by taking this opportunity of thanking the Government of Canada for their wonderful co-operation with me in the matter of meteorology, in supplying not only accurate forecasts and weather reports which helped me considerably, but also in providing a service organization and wireless organization which conveyed those regularly to us without delay and without error. (Loud Applause.)

MAJOR G. H. SCOTT then rose and said: I want to thank the Empire Club for this opportunity of speaking upon a subject of very great interest to me, with which I have been associated for many years, that is, the Airship. We in Great Britain have been endeavouring for some time to develop the airship for commercial purposes, that is, for the carriage of passengers and mail; not for any war-time purpose at all, not for bombing or raiding. The airship may have some military value; we don't know and don't care. For us, the airship is for commercial transport, and for bringing the Empire together. (Applause.)

In considering the development of airship routes, we have taken entirely the utilitarian routes, and made meteorological and aerial examination as to where we could find a useful basis for an imperial route; and the whole object is to bring the Empire together. Therefore, on this first visit of a British airship to Canada, I feel quite at home and quite natural, although I quite appreciate the call that I should come here and talk to the Empire Club of Canada. (Applause.)

I find that I am being congratulated a good deal on having carried out this project in the air, being in charge of this airship. These congratulations come in several different ways. Some people say, "It is a wonderful flight; what brave people you are!" Well, they are wrong. There is nothing very wonderful about the flight; it was a perfectly normal flight. It is called a wonderful thing, but we did what everybody will be doing some day. There is no danger in the flight at all. Other people congratulate me on the successful flight. They are right; the flight was successful. (Applause.) I am not talking of the success of having come from Cardington and arrived in Montreal; there is nothing wonderful about that; but it was successful in showing to the Dominion of Canada that we in Great Britain were endeavouring to come closer to you, and to shorten the distance between us; and the British Government, in sending out this airship to Montreal and to Canada, are holding out for you the hand and saying. "Let us get closer together." (Hear, hear and applause.)

I would like you to realize how perfectly normal this flight was. I suppose you would like me to describe it to you. On board there were forty-four men on this flight, all told, including six official observers. Mr. Giblett has told you how information was obtained from the Meteorological Service and from ships coming across the Atlantic. These gave us favourable winds, instead of our having to buffet strong head winds. There was a particular occasion when, by going slightly north of our course, we got into a wind in which for several hours we were making a speed of over 70 knots, whereas if we had been about 200 miles farther south we would have been in quite a strong head wind. The information which we collected, together with our charts and wireless equipment, made our ship amenable to navigation. You have to sit down and study your data, and alter your course as required.

In regard to the question of finding the way about-of actual, pure navigation in an airship there is no real difficulty at all. There is so much wireless now that it is the same as sailing. We can get all the accuracy that has been gained in the navigation of ships. As an example, take the accuracy of navigation that was called out by Squadron Leader Johnston. When we approached Belle Isle he told us that a light would appear about 5 degrees from the storm tower at such a time. Well, he was five minutes out (Applause) and without altering our course we steered straight in. I tell you that so that you will feel, when you come out in airships in future, quite satisfied that we will take you to your right destination and set you down at the right spot. (Laughter.)

The duties of the crew, and the general running of an airship, are about the same as those of a steamship. This is the first airship in the Aerial Marine Service in which the duties and service of the men are the same as in the ordinary merchant marine. The whole idea of airship development in Great Britain is for commercial purposes. The life on board with us is perfectly normal. In the morning the steward will bring you a cup of tea if you want it. Then you get breakfast-bacon and eggs (Laughter), or a chop, and tea and toast. We can give you a lunch of beef, possibly a vegetable and sweet, with coffee, beer or whiskey. (Laughter.) On this flight at tea we actually fed on cake made by the cook. Of course we have cold supper, and before retiring you can have your glass of whiskey; so that the whole life on board an airship is a perfectly straight, normal life. (Laughter.) I think a passenger who goes up in an airship thinking he is going to get a thrill is greatly disappointed. There is nothing much to see; it is very quiet; there is no excitement or sensation, so that I would advise passengers to take a pack of cards, and two or three books to read. (Laughter.)

This was a commercial flight, and we had no excitement whatever until we got into troublesome weather, and then of course it is not quite so comfortable for the passengers. (Applause.) Talking about the beauty of the trip, anybody who goes up the St. Lawrence by steamship must appreciate its beauty, but going by air it is absolutely wonderful.

The first trouble we experienced was just about thirty miles below Quebec, and then we were pushing the airship so as to get to land before night; and we got a bump from the hills north of the river, and the fabric on one of the fins ripped. This necessitated slowing down in order to attempt the repair of this fin. You will see that a very fine job was carried out by Captain Meager and his coxswain and assistant coxswain and crew. They had to get on inside the fin, which takes a little bit of doing, and a new patch had to be put in its place. Now we have made a thorough repair and put in a new section of 200 square feet. The success of this temporary repair was such that we were able to proceed, at a speed of 40 miles, having dropped down from 70.

The next trouble we had was just before we got to Three Rivers. There were thunderstorms all round, and we got into some of those vertical currents which I think are the biggest danger to navigation in the air. I am quite convinced that we can build an airship that will stand up to those currents, and the crew experienced no trouble whatsoever; I don't think the passengers realized that anything unusual was happening. While we were trying to hold her up to those currents we came up from about 1,200 to 2,000 feet, and then came down again very quickly. I do not think there was any real danger on that occasion, and I do not think we will get that experience very often. The airship behaved herself in a very ladylike fashion. (Laughter.) After we went through that squall at Three Rivers there were quite a number of thunderstorms between that and St. Hubert. We came out of them quite well. We stood by till they came, let them pass, and then proceeded on to Montreal.

We passed over Montreal during the night, and would have landed at night-it is quite easy to land an airship in a mooringtower, and in many cases we have done it. The only reason we did not land in the dark was because it was a new aerodrome none of us had seen. The airship can land at night, and it will probably land during the dark hours, as the conditions for landing are much better at night, without sun, than they are during the day. I explain that because some people may not realize that night landing is possible.

The landing at the mooring-tower at Montreal was grand. Commander Pressey came out from England acquainted with mooring-towers, but this was the first time this tower had been used, and the first time he and the crew had actually landed an airship, and I think they should be congratulated, particularly on the fact that they made a very rapid landing. From the time they dropped the cable till the time they made her secure was twenty-five minutes. In Cardington, England, where they had very much more experience, they have never done it under thirty-five minutes. (Applause.) This tower at St. Hubert is the latest and most up-to-date tower in the world. There is no other equal to it. I have examined it and gone through it, and the equipment is absolutely first-class. I think the way the tower has been built, and the results, are most praiseworthy.

Everybody naturally says, "And what now?" This is only the first run; it is merely a leader, a start. If we stop there, of course, then it appears to be what I said it was not, a "stunt". What are we going to do next? I do not think we can say that airships of the size of the R-100 could run commercially on the Atlantic. We could operate them and get data, but I think they are just on the small side, and not large enough for commercial purposes; but the construction of the R-100 and R-101 is such that we have no difficulty whatever in building for the Atlantic an airship of the size and speed that should be a successful commercial proposition. (Applause.) The R-100 has 5,000,000 cubic feet of gas capacity, which means that it is 730 feet long and 130 feet in diameter. In other words, she is quite as large as the largest steamship that floats today. Her high speed is 80 miles an hour. The distance covered in this flight was 3,000 miles; that is the distance between Cardington and St. Hubert, Montreal.

In operating a regular service we feel convinced that we require another tower, probably lower down the St. Lawrence, at which we could land the passengers in an emergency. You see, at this stage it is a little hard for an airship to operate on a radius of 3,000 miles without any intermediate organization or ports. Steamships coming up the St. Lawrence can, in case of emergency, put into Halifax or a number of other places. The object of this emergency tower would be this-that if you are going to operate from England direct to Montreal you would have to carry sufficient fuel to meet the worst emergency you are likely to encounter. That would mean that on many occasions you would land in Montreal with perhaps twelve or fifteen tons of fuel aboard, still left, that you had to carry for the emergency. That would reduce the commercial load by an enormous amount, whereas, if you had an intermediate position somewhere out in the St. Lawrence, you could carry a smaller reserve in case you hit a bad place crossing the Atlantic. I may say that we used more fuel from Belle Isle to Montreal than we did from Cardington to Belle Isle. I think that shows the value of the hint I have given.

The size of the airship that would be required for this Atlantic service it is very difficult to say; but I think we can build them with from seven million to eight million cubic feet capacity without meeting any difficult problems. The experience of the R-100 and R-101 suggests building an increased size of airship. We have reason to believe that a capacity of 7,000,000 to 7,500,000 cubic feet will be ample for the job it is intended to do.

People ask what will be the schedule time for the passage. After careful examination of our meteorological data on the Atlantic, I think we can say for certain that with a bigger airship the round run would be three days from England to Montreal and two and a half days from Montreal to England. The number of cases where we could not stick to schedule time would be comparatively small, and the delays no larger than delays that occur to steamships and other forms of transport.

Then as to cost; what will you have to pay for a passage? One could make all sorts of guesses, but we really have not got sufficient data on which to definitely say; but I am convinced that the cost will not be excessive. I think it will be such that you can make it a business proposition. I do not quote any figure now, because it would be based on insufficient data.

I have always to be very careful in expressing my own opinion of the future, or as to how the passage is going to be brought about, but I can say that we want your assistance in bringing this about. (Applause.) We shall need a certain amount of national business but, more than that, we want your moral support. We want you to go forth and say, "If the airship will do what we think it will do, we must help;" and also, "I think Canada should insist on the development of these imperial routes and the development of services across the Atlantic." It is a question not only of passengers but of mail, so that people can get a reply to a letter within a week from England. It is hard to appreciate what effect that would have, and I say that we need your assistance and your strong support to help us to put through and get going on this first link in an imperial service.

I want to thank you for having given me this opportunity to meet you as the Empire Club of Canada. (Loud and Continued Applause.)

HONORABLE G. HOWARD FERGUSON, Premier of Ontario, voiced the thanks of the Club in a witty and patriotic speech.

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The Shuttle of Empire—The Airship


Major G.H. Scott:
The role played by the weather in the practical proposition of flying airships from England to the Dominion, and Canada in particular. Data collected in order to lay down rules applied to flying to the Dominions. Practical information gathered about the various routes to India, Australia, etc. The need to have an organization to provide information as to what weather conditions exist along the route to any Dominion at the time of flying, and changes that are likely to take place in the matter of wind and weather during the actual flight. Information exchanged with the Meteorological Service of Canada. A description of the process of flight determination in conjunction with weather reports. Examples of how weather service helps.
Mr. M. Giblett:
Airships. Endeavours in Great Britain to develop the airship for commercial purposes, and to bring the Empire together. The development of airship routes. A description of the airship flight. The question of navigation in an airship. The duties of the crew, and the general running of an airship, similar to those of a steamship. The beauty of the trip up the St. Lawrence. Some trouble experienced and how it was dealt with. Landing at Montreal. An examination of the possibilities of operating regular commercial airship flights, with a consideration of load, ports, passage, cost.