Pendine Sands Aerial View

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Flight Report

IT was in the early hours of Saturday morning, July 22, that Mr. and Mrs. Mollison decided the weather reports from the Air Ministry were favourable enough to allow a start to be made on their Atlantic flight. At 7.45 a.m. their D.H. Dragon " Seafarer," two " Gipsy Majors," left Stag Lane for Wales. On arriving at Pendine Sands, Carmarthenshire, the machine was loaded up with 420 gall. of petrol. At noon of the same day Mr. Mollison took off from the sands after a run of nearly 1,000 yd.

THE START : Seafarer just after taking off from Pendine Sands.

THE START : Seafarer just after taking off from Pendine Sands.

According to the Mollisons' own story, they started off by flying just off the surface of the water, the visibility not being good. Strong head winds, fog and thick clouds handicapped them during most of the ocean crossing, so much so that they only saw the sea for .about 3 hours out of the 22 they spent over it. At about 9 a.m. the following morning, Sunday, July 23, the Mollisons noted that the sea was sprinkled with icebergs, so they presumed that land was not far off. Actually it was first sighted by them about midday. Reports from places on their route state that the machine was sighted over Robinson, Newfoundland, at 5 p.m. on Sunday. July 23 ; over New Glasgow, Nova Scotia, at 6.45 p.m.; over Advocate Harbour, Nova Scotia, at 8.45 p.m.; over Bar Harbour, Maine, at 10.32 p.m.; over Cape Elizabeth, Portland, Maine, at 10.42 p.m., and over Provincetown, Mass., at 11.35 p.m. Towards the close of Monday, July 24, when it was getting dark, the " Seafarer " was approaching New York.

Mr and Mrs Jim Mollison
Mr and Mrs Jim Mollison

The Mollisons, knowing that their petrol supply was running perilously low, gave up the idea of attempting to reach New York and decided to land at Bridgeport, 60 miles short of their destination. The aerodrome was lit up, a light trained on the wind indicator, and a machine was sent up to guide them down. Mr. Mollison, however, landed down wind, outside the aerodrome, and in a swamp. The machine turned over, Mr. Mollison being flung through the windscreen, while Mrs. Mollison crawled out from the wreckage. Both had to be taken to hospital. Mr. Mollison with face cuts, and Mrs. Mollison with shock.

After a few hours in hospital Mr. and Mrs. Mollison were flown to New York. where they received a great welcome. It is reported that Mrs. Mollison was highly indignant at the suggestion that the crash was due to over-fatigue, rather was she prepared to blame the airport authorities. It is a trifle early at present to endeavour, from the many varied reports, to lay blame, but Mr. Mollison, in his own story. states that there was considerable ground fog over the landing ground, which seems a more likely explanation for a landing being made outside the aerodrome.

In 39 hours the Mollisons have succeeded in flying the 3,300-mile crossing of the Atlantic which represents an average speed of about 85 m.p.h. In the issue of June 8, FLIGHT expressed an opinion that there was little wisdom in attempting the east to west crossing, when the setting up of a new long-distance record was the primary object.

n 39 hours the Mollisons have succeeded in flying the 3,300-mile crossing of the Atlantic which represents an average speed of about 85 m.p.h

Whether the Mollisons will still be able to attempt their long-distance flight is at present uncertain, for the Seafarer is damaged beyond repair, the engines, instruments. and other salvaged parts being shipped home to England. Mr. and Mrs. Mollison must consider themselves very lucky to have escaped so lightly from such a crash. It seems unfortunate that noon on Saturday was chosen for the start of the flight. Had the take off been delayed until the evening the last few hundred miles of the flight would have been during the hours of daylight, in which case the Seafarer would, presumably, have been landed safely. The two " Gipsy Major " engines ran splendidly for the duration of the whole flight, often at 2,150 revs. for long periods, which makes the crash seem all the more pitiful.

About the only thing the flight has proved, apart from the splendid reliability of the engines, which everybody already recognised, is that the physical strain of a long flight is terrific. At the end of Mr. `Mollison's record flight from Australia in 1931, he landed on the beach near Pevensey, and was lucky not to damage his machine. In March of last year he finished his record flight to the Cape by running into the sea, and now this crash; fatigue appears to be largely responsible.

Lord Londonderry, Secretary of State for Air, has sent the following telegram to Mr. Mollison : " Much regret to hear of unfortunate accident to yourself and Mrs. Mollison and of damage to machine, when you had already accomplished so much."

The flight is yet another excellent demonstration of the quality of British aviation material. The De Havilland " Dragon " and " Gipsy Major " engines gave no trouble of any kind, and, in point of fact, the engines seem to have been amazingly economical, each having apparently consumed but 5 gallons of ".Shell " per hour and a very minute quantity of Castrol oil. The K.L.G. plugs of the " Gipsy Major " engines were fired by B.T.H. magnetos, and the very economical fuel mixture was attained with Claudel Hobson carburetters. Smooth running was ensured by fitting Hoffmann bearings. Navigation was helped by fitting Smith's instruments and Husun compasses, and surety and delicacy of control was ensured by Simmonds-Corsev controls. The black finish of Seafarer was due to Titanine Dope. The Dunlop wheels stood up well to the take-off with full load.

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