Monday, June 14, 2010

Alcock and Brown Remain Confident for a Sucessful Transatlantic Crossing

Saturday June 14 1919
Morning Headlines:-
Vimy's planned Friday 13 departure missed due to mechanical problems - Alcock and Brown remain confident that they will get away today 

Ike arrived to work early today feeling fresh and chipper, completely recovered from the day before, due to a good night's rest. He is thankful that he will be finished work at Noon today. He left Starr hitched outside the receiving dock in front of the Express Office, where his friend Dick Neugent could keep eye on him and refill his hay net from time to time. 

Ike need Starr at hand in order to get that all important gear up to Lester's field before 1:00 P.M. just in time for it's installation and clearing the way for a 2:00 PM takeoff. 

At precisely twelve O'clock he darts through the express office, with the gear wrapped in his hanky, and jams the hanky into his pocket, running through the receiving door, Ike jumps down from the four foot high platform and pulls the quick release knot on Starr's reins, mounting at a run they are heading for Jobe street. At the top of Jobe they round the corner and race up Hamilton Avenue on his way to Lester's Field.

Nearing the top of Hamilton Avenue Starr is showing signs of tiring, so Ike allows the animal to transition into a brisk walk as they turn right onto Bennett Avenue. At the top of Bennett, enter the intersection and begin crossing LeMarchant, without any regard for oncoming traffic. Ike was suddenly startled by the sound of a motor car's horn, AH~~UGG~~AH, accompanied  by a hale of flying gravel and the smell of skidding rubber over rock and gravel. 

Looking to the left Ike got a glimpse of a model T, fishtailing as it slithered by, not two inches from Starr's flying tail.  Continuing up Bennett he could see what appeared to be a road block of some sort. The droves of people who were streaming towards Lester's field where being held up by a line of young men who were blocking the road and allowing the pedestrians pass through, one at a time.  

It came to Ike in a flash: it was the Mundy Pond gang, they were extorting a fee from the young people who were on there way to Lester's field to witness the departure and be a part of this historic moment. The thought had barely occurred when someone shouted "It's that carrot top; de one who organized the raid on our territory de~udder night. Let's get Red~~kill de little bastard." 

With that a couple of the gang advanced towards Ike, swinging sticks over their heads: all of which caused Starr to rear, swing around in the opposite direction. The sudden manoeuvre nearly unseated Ike but me managed to hang on: this unnerving feeling conjured up thoughts of that other ride he had not all that long ago, when he first rode Starr through town. Uncomfortable as the feeling was, it helped to get the adrenalin flowing, which was just what he needed at this moment, to get him safely to the field and deliver the part to the maintenance crew as he had promised.

As he rounded the corner on to LeMarchant heading west he thought of another way to get to the field , bypassing the Mundy Pond gang completely. There was another enterance to Lester's Farm from LeMarchant, just before, where it forked with Hamilton, there was a narrow path leading to the farm and the new airfield. Turning into the path Ike saw that this was going to be slow going, because the path was blocked by numerous small groups of people and dogs walking up the long lane way towards the flying field. The horse and rider were already attracting more attention than was needed, particularly from the dogs.  

They were barking and yapping and there was all ready one medium size one who was biting at Starr's tail, which was annoying the horse considerably because he started bucking and kicking out at the nuisance of a dog with his rear end. The dog was smart enough to just stay out of range of Starr's flying hooves, but after a number of close calls the dog's luck ran out when he got too close and Starr connected with both hooves sending the dog flying through the air for what appeared to be at least twenty feet. There was a few short seconds of silence then all hell broke loose. 

The dam dog started yelping with such intensity that other dogs were attracted from near and far, by the horrible racket and they they all began to race towards the site of the commotion. Fearing the moment when they would all converge; Ike decided to take to the open field for his escape and flight to deliver the pinion gear. He could see that there were just two fences and a stone wall between him and the waiting Vimy and that did not seem half as scary to him at that moment as the prospect of fighting off a pack of semi wild dogs. 

With a couple of slaps to Starr's flanks with the end of his reins they started off at an energetic hunter pace towards the first obstacle, with at least a dozen yelping excited dogs bringing up the rear. Approaching the first fence, Ike was full of confidence in Starr's natural jumping ability, he was more concerned about the dogs behind than he was for the fast approaching four foot high rail fence up ahead. Instinctively, at a couple of strides before the fence Ike went forward in a two point position, with his weight hovering over the withers and the reins held loosely in one hand, he used his free hand to grab handful of mane, just to steady himself, just in case his timing wasn't perfect. At a half stride before the fence Starr chose the perfect place for the launch; getting his two rear feet under him and his front tucked up neatly he smoothly arched bascule form over the fence, with a good four inches to spare. Ike was already looking and thinking confidently about the next fence, because the whole time during the jump he had a wonderful feeling of complete security, including the landing where had the presence of mind to swing his stirrups forward, so that he could brace himself for the landing.  

The next fence was not as enjoyable an experience for Ike: he was a little too late to assume the two point forward position, with the result that he was left a little on the takeoff and, because his stirrups were not completely vertical, the landing was not exactly elegant, as he crashed down hard on the saddle; giving Starr to respond with couple of kicking bucks to register his own disapproval.   The pack of yapping dogs were holding their own, in this race to the finish line. 

The sight of the horse and rider followed by a pack of dogs attracted the attention of the spectators, who suddenly got into the mood with their cheers of encouragement. Starr took the stone wall in perfect form, leaving behind the excited dogs on the other side of the barrier.  

All eyes were on Ike as he dismounted near the aircraft, which was surrounded by the ground crew and the two fliers, dressed in their bulky flying suits. "That was some entrance Ike." Exclaimed John, with a feeling of surprise and relief. "Did you bring the pinion gear?" 

"Yes! got it here in my pocket." said Ike as he gasped to catch breath. "It's right here in my hanky." As he produced the wrinkled object from his pants pocket."That's wonderful news because we were certainly counting on you, and we certainly were not setting off without a full compliment of magnetos. Max! How long will it take to install this? " said Jack as he took the pinion from Ike and handed it over to Max Muller. 

"I can have it installed and the mag timed in about an hour, if every thing goes well." "Smashing! That means that we will be able to be away by fourteen hundred hours."
Less than a hour later the Vimy slowly gathered speed as she headed into the wind at full throttles: lumbering across the bumpy field agonizingly slow at first because of the slight up hill grade and the weight of the maximum fuel load she was carrying, she soon began to look light on her wheels, then suddenly to the cheers of the crowd she broke ground and began to rise.

As she continued to climb and Ike turned to his railway pals and said, "Thank God they are finally on their way~~now we can get back to important things, like foot ball." 

They all enjoyed a healthy chuckle at Ike's humor and collectively breathed a sigh of relief as the giant bomber  passed high over Signal Hill and faded from view. 

To see a simulation of the Vimy's flight, click on the object below.