Hairyplane surely the Auster was the AOP aircraft of choice because the pilot could actually see what was below him Every AOP aircraft I can think of (post WW1 and the 30's) has been a high wing design, 0-49 & L4 Cubs, L18 SuperCub, O-1 Bird Dog, 0-2 Push me Pull you (Cessna 336/7).
A story so good it deserves to be true
I heard this story from my Dad who, although he wasn't there, knew a man who was and thus swears it's true;
During WW2, Swansea took quite a pasting from the Luftwaffe Urban Re-development Group. The ex-RFC Wingco of RAF Swansea, which was a training base as I understand it, got a bit irate about his inability to retaliate. One night he had a bright idea. Stooge around at around xx,000' and when the assorted Heinkels, Dorniers and Junkers came to give Swansea docks another pasting, he would swoop on them like an avenging angel.
In a Magister .
Armed with a Very pistol (flare gun) .
Must have given the German crews a shock to see Britain's latest secret weapon in action.
Apparently, this ex-WW1 ace actually did this. Is there anybody out there who can confirm this wonderful story or debunk it as apocryphal?
I've heard a similar story of someone (Jean Stampe?) coming across a group of soldiers under strafing attack from some Me109s in Belgium whilst he was flying an SV-4 - he flew amongst the 109s and harried them to distraction by zipping around amongst the trees and using the Stampe's nimbleness to great effect until they ran low on fuel and had to run for home...
Low n Slow - The Maggie 'Verygunner' story is great - see if you can get it verified.
Low n SLow/ Barry Clay - The Messenger was designed as a result of a direct approach by a group of frustrated Army Officers 'in the field' who wanted an aircraft hat wasn't 'designed by committee.'
Miles, in his inimitable style, got hold of a M28 Mercury and designed a longer, thicker STOL wing. huge flaps and strong, long-stroke UC. Voila!
Unfortunately, despite being wowed by this machine - that could lift 4 fully equipped troops plus a big radio out of impossibly small fields - the beaurocrats had a sense of humour failure at this flippant approach and - I believe - ensured that the ringleader was posted overseas. He went on to distinguish himself apparently but thats another story.
THe Messenger was produced but in the Military, it was used exclusively for VIP flights and Comms.
It was eminently suited for AOP work - the low wing is no disadvantage. Indeed, its very slow/ long loiter performance, huge opening windows and the large bubble screen that extended beyong the fuselage sides was a quantum leap forward. However, I agree that it would have represented a break with tradition.
The story of the fate of the military Messengers is a complex one but will all be covered in the forthcoming book 'The Miles Aircraft Story 1927-1978.'
THis tome, representing 50+ years of work by Peter Amos - 'The Oracle' will answer all Miles-related questions.
It will be out in the Spring.
We are going up a gear on this thread with wonderful contributions. I am getting more confident of 200+ posts and still more to go. This thread will run and run!
If you are just browsing but have a story to tell - fire it off to me by EMail - just like Barry Clay is doing - and I will post it for you.
Please share your stories with us MMMmmmiles nutters!.
A post onto the Wingsoverwarwickshire website today -
N Hitchman writes -
I saw a very nice looking Miles M2R Hawk Major in the Chilean AF museum in Santiago. A number of their aircraft are airworthy and flown, but Im not sure if this is.
( no it isn't - HP)
While in Argentina at the same time last April, I didnt see any Miles aircraft, but was told that there was at least one airworthy Magister in the Mendoza area at San Martin airfield. (It is airworthy and last reported for sale - a pre-war Maggie and thus of significant historical interest. I have seen recent pictures of it. It looks exactly like the Shuttleworth Maggie - HP)
I did see a GAL Cygnet in poor condition on a pole outside one aeroclub at Colon!!! There are lots of very intresting vintage aircraft down here! (Tell us more! - HP)
If you want to save some Miles aircraft, can I suggest those at the Ulster Museum of Folk and Transport, they have two Geminies AKEL and AKGE, stored dismantled. I've visited there twice, but not in the last 7 or 8 years. Both times I failed to see the aircraft, the last time the curator told me he was too busy to show me them, even though he seemed to have 30 min to explain to me why he was too busy!! Later we found the wings and tails of the two aircraft stored in an open barn along with lots of other non aviation stuff, one of the workers there told us that all the aviation stuff was not very well cared for in store and the curator wasnt really interested in it. (Geminis are not that sought after unfortunately. Now if they had a Hawk, Witney Straight or Monarch, these would be of great interest! - HP)
Don't know if this has been reported here already (server prevented me from going through the whole thread), but a pair of Gemini wings has recently been on the move. After having been stored at the Brooklands museum for years they have now moved to Hooton. Last time I saw them was three years back and they weren't in that fair a shape then, so no telling what they are like now.
Barry writes in response to the limited market/ low prices for this classic wooden twin -
'Its strange how things change. Whenthe Miles Gemini was in production, it was the last word in twin engined private owner aircraft. Now, with all these American twins with heaps of power the little old Gemini nobody wants. Percy Blamire used to love his G-ALZG,a bronze coloured machine which he raced each year in the Kings Cup Air Race. He bent it a few times and on one occasion a Hornet Moth taxied right into it ripping into the fuselage,another occasion he had a bad bird strike and had to make a single engined landing luckily just making Bagintons threshold. ( I too had a single- engined Gemini approach into Old Warden last season when one of the props fell off! - HP) The aircraft went eventually to Russell Winn in Ireland (famous for his remote submarines) who was tragically killed when the entire tail assembly detached itself in the air. Russell had a few Geminis including the rare Aries G-AOGA which he purchased from the Rapide group at Baginton. I can tell you all now that there was very little of the 'original' G- ALZG in this machine,most of it was ex G-ALMU with parts from no less than four other aeroplanes incorporated into her. Alvis did a total rebuild of the airframe,when Percy used to give her the gun before he flew her,the aircrafts tail would shake and I often wonder whether this ground resonance did some damage to the airframe in later years and caused that terrible break up in the air and subsequent crash ?
( I have a theory here. One should never push or/ lift the Messenger/ Gemini tail. We found a crack attributable to poor ground - handling on Messenger 'KBO and this seriously weakened the stbd. side tailplane attachment. The vertical former in front of the tailplane relies on total skin adhesion for tailplane rigidity and we found a crack between the two parts - all model plane stuff only 1/1 scale! THe only external evidence was that one side of the tailplane seemed more flexible than the other.A simple repair but nevertheless one that would certainly have propogated if it hadn't been spotted on the CofA 3 yrs. ago. - HP) Several Geminis were used for air racing and at one time it was a fairly common machine at airfields,slowly they are getting rarer but lets hope the Skysport example gets a good caring owner to look after her for generations to see flying.
(((Sir John Allison, Adrian Brook and Jim Buckingham have 3 excellent airworthy examples in the UK. With a fourth in Sweden and a fifth in Belgium - plus shed-loads of spares all over the place, these fine machines are not endangered. The skills required to fly these old twins are quite different. You have zero single-engined performance at anything other than minimum weight thanks to the good old Cirrus Minors (the Gipsy-powered version was a better machine but none are flying) - . Couple this with the tailwheel UC configuration, the cost of ownership/ restoration v residual value and it don't stack up for many - HP)))
Today I spoke to Ian Whittle, the son of Sir Frank. Now Sir Frank and F. G. were working together on the M.52 supersonic design weren't they! It was to be powered by the 200 lb Whittle W.2/700 jet engine with augmentor (reheat).
Since it was a business call and on his ticket, I invited Ian to browse the thread.
G-AJOG/OO-ERY was the last Miles Aerovan to survive,in 1963 I was part of a team sent down to Wrafton Gate (a strip at the end of R.A.F Chivenors airfield) to remove the engines,instruments and other recoverable equipment from this aeroplane,the airframe despite my pleas to the very few people interested in old aeroplanes at that time to save her,she was set alight,the fire brigade arrived on the scene to read us the riot act and put the fire out ! the remains were burnt on November 5th by the R.A.F. The company who purchased G-AJOG was Devonair Ltd for use on a ad hoc air service to the Lundy Islands,the aircraft came from the Belgium Royal family but became the subject of a complicated legal battle and it remained in the blister hangar at Wfafton Gate. For many years I always thought that the aircraft never actually flew to Lundy but only just recently I have confirmation that she flew there at least once quote this e-mail 'With regard the Aerovan,yes it certainly flew to Lundy,Martin Harman,the then owner of the Island around 1959 invited the R.A.F officers over to the Island for a cull of the red deer,the officers provided their own guns and ammunition,we certainly have a photograph of the aeroplane on Lundy following the successful deer shoot' so ended a forty year old mystery for me. The idea was to fit the Aerovan with Lycomings much like the Miles Gemini conversion in Australia done some years later,however the ownership problems held everything up. One remarkable story about the Aerovan can be summed up in this accident at Croydon in 1944,one of these machines loaded with racing pidgeons took off in a strong wind failing to get any altitude over 100 feet,it turned downwind after flying for three miles out from the airfield then struck a tree,and disintigrated with hundreds of birds flying away ! performance was not one of its good points. The only other machine to be developed was the Hurel Dubois high lift high aspect ratio version of the Aerovan aircraft which was later developed into a special aircraft used for geophysical survey work in France.
What a mine of information you are!
I have a picture of my Falcon in Sweden - taken at Norrkoping in Sweden in 1938 on the occasion of a fly-in.
There is a German Swastika flag fluttering on a pole mounted on a hangar in the background.
Not only does the hangar survive - and we recreated the same shot last June - I have an original programme of the event which lists my aircraft - SE-AFN as it was then - as taking part in the navigation competition!
As far as Kings Cup winners are concerned - My Messenger G-AKBO won it in 1954, My Falcon won it as late as 1979 and my Magister came third I'm not sure in what year - I'll look it up!
Keep it all coming guys - we are looking to break 200 posts!
I will indeed consult The Oracle and come back to you with more details if he has them.
The prop incident gives me the shudders.
In my case last season it was simply the owner pilot of the Gemini (Cirrus Minors) saying to me - 'what was that?' as something flew over the port wing.
'Er...Its the prop'.
'Oh..so it is...I'd better shut it down then' It all continued as a 'no-drama' incident - the landing was skilfully executed - a non-event too. Only later did we consider the consequences of the prop flying towards us as opposed to away. A scything prop wouldn't stop at thin ply..Ugh! We were also told by ground observers that the errant prop narrowly missed the tailplane as it arced behind.
THe crankshaft didn't fail, the prop bolts sheared.
It could have indeed been worse HP imagine if the engine had failed. Fixed pitch prop..... single (Cirrus) engine...... best find a field fast.....
I was talking to an engineer friend of mine who worked on the Gemini that shed it's tail. He had to go to Haverfordwest many moons ago when the chap who was subsequently killed landed wheels up there. Seems he had a penchant for Geminis and owned 3 or 4 of them over the years.
An Airwork advertisement in Flight of January 19, 1939 reads:
who has flown in the new
has expressed the keenest appreciation of its qualities. The latest system of Flap- operation, the Miles Glide- Control, must be tried to be appreciated.
Experienced pilots who have tried this device state that it is the biggest step to- wards safe and easy flying since the introduction of Flaps.
Write or 'phone for a demonstration
AIRWORK SALES DEPARTMENT Hounslow 2345
HESTON AIRPORT - MIDDLESEX
W.S. Shackleton has on the same page a sales ad with several aircraft at bargain prices, e.g.:
175 Pounds, Westland Widgeon..........
225 Pounds, Hawker Tom Tit .............
345 Pounds, Miles Hawk Major, 440 hours since new, flaps, two 22.5-gallon tanks; standard instruments plus Reid & Sigrist turn and bank and fore and aft in rear cockpit; air speed indicator, altimeter and bubble in front; engine hours 487 since new and 111 since top overhaul; C. of A. to 25th April.
365 Pounds, Puss Moth............
475 Pounds, B.A. Eagle...............
695 Pounds, Miles Whitney Straight, outstanding bargain; only 62 engine hours since new; standard instruments plus Reid & Sigrist turn and bank; turquoise blue with silver wings and tail; no crashes; carefully kept under dust sheet and condition virutally as new; C. of A. to November.
795 Pounds, Percival Gull............formerly the property of the late Duchess of Bedford and owned only by her and her personal pilot, Flt/Lt. R. Chevalier Preston, AFC.............colours, olive green fuselage, silver wings...........
Another interesting anecdote from Barry Clay (Wings Over Warwickshire) -
Roys story of the landing Cygnet at Heathrow reminded me of a similar incident about 1968,the flying club at Baginton where I worked had a variety of even by then vintage aircraft flying,but they were not looked at in that light just useful aircraft to teach people to fly. Anyway one day this charming young American lady came along to the club house one day and said that she was staying in this country for a while and wanted to do some aerial sightseeing,oh thats fine we can get a instructor to take you up,no she said I have my FAA licence and want to take my boyfriend up with me,so we wheeled one of the Miles Magisters (G-AKKY) out of the hangar,filled it up and off she went into the blue,it was time to lock up for the day and all of the Austers,Tigers etc were safely in the hangar except the Magister which had not returned ! getting a little concerned we rang the tower who said the aircraft was last reported over the Stratford area circling Shakespeares birthplace ! but as the aircraft was non-radio nobody knew quite where it was after that. We went home and just put it down to another lost aeroplane who had probably put down in a field for the night which was nothing unusual in those free and easy days,the next morning the newspaper headlines said 'Little old Cheryl chauses chaos over London Airport' apparently she had got terribly lost and wandered South towards what was then London Air Port (now Heathrow) seeing all the airliners and runway below she decided to land on the perimeter track as it was getting dark and she was running short of fuel, Little Cheryl was never seen again and we had to fly the Auster down with a instructor to pick up the Magister,what amazes me on reflection is that we never even checked what types of aircraft she had flown in the States,off she went and that was it !'
I feel that your Miles thread needs a kickstart and I haven't seen anything yet on Maggie sideslipping.
When I was taught to fly the Maggie, my instructor recommended against sideslipping the beast. As you know, when applying sideslip, a large amount of back stick is neccessary, so when removing the sideslip, if the back elevator is not removed in sympathy, a flick roll into a spin could result. This is not a good thing at low level!
Most students of the day passed from the Tiger to the Maggie, and given the benign sideslip of the Tiger, I can understand the instructors concern.
However, as we both know, when the engine fails, so do the flaps. In such a case, if we can't sideslip, we have nothing to help us adjust the glidepath.
Sooooo, my own line is to practice the sideslip at height until I'm fully conversant with the control inputs required to remove the sideslip safely, then when the inevitable happens, I've got another weapon in the arsenal to control rate of descent.
Thank you for keeping this thread alive - I like to think that there are plenty more afficianados out there, hopefully soon to come on line so it is important to keep it running.
THe information gleaned thus far has been fascinating and will be preserved for future generations.
Sideslipping the Magister - -
I have a detailed pre-war test report from Farnborough.
Not only is sideslipping near the ground dangerous, it is also completely unecessary in view of the highly efficient flaps.
It seems that a number of young trainees mysteriously speared in on the approach whilst flying Maggies and the Air Ministry were sufficiently concerned to get Farnborough 'on the case.'
Basically, as you introduce yaw with the rudder, the slab-sided fuselage begins to blank the airflow over the tail. However, beyond a certain degree of rudder deflection, there is a sudden, alarming pitch-down. It gets worse because in this condition, the elevator authority is suddenly and dramatically reduced too.
It is therefore easy to understand what was killing our boys.
Sideslipping was the norm in those days, taught by old-school 'dyed in the wool' instructors. So, our young student - taught to come in high and sideslip flapless a la Tiger Moth (we'll experiment with those flappy things later lad) would experience a sudden pitchdown near the ground and would haul on the stick (a real pull in view of the reduced authority) to compensate.
That was fine until he kicked the drift off. Imagine the aerodynamic considerations here - landing approach (ie near the stall), lots of up elavator - kick the drift off - sudden increase in elevator effectiveness - flick roll into the deck.... Goodnight Vienna.
The accidents were eradicated by this evaluation and supported by proper training.
Once you know about it - you simply avoid it and remind yourself (and curious passengers/ budding Maggie pilots alike) at altitude why you shouldn't do it near the ground.
Another 'quirk' - for want of a better expression - is the vacuum operated flaps.
If the engine quits, they don't come down. An engine failure will therefore focus the mind, especially in view of the sideslip thing.
Does that answer it for you?
Classic Wings Down Under - I plan to start another thread to publicise this excellent Antipodean Journal. However, the latest issue features the Magister. The RAAF were considering licence production but decided on the CAC Wacket instead.
A 'static' Maggie survives in NZ - one of 2 impressed into the RNZAF.
Interesting stuff, but we are in a diffrent world now compared to that of the service pilots in WW II. We have more experience than the students and the benifit of more corporate knowledge than the instructors. Our remit is also different, as is the way we fly.
Given the lack of flap on the engine off glide, I still believe the sideslip is useful. I also believe it's safe if it's first practiced at height to gain the skill.