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The Great War (1914-1918) Forum

Remembered Today:

Flying To France


PhilB

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A recent thread mentioned that Macdonough flew to France to see DH in early 1918. I don`t recall reading much about VIPs travelling this way - was it usual? What aircraft would have been used?

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Monash was offered a flight back to France from the UK on one occasion, however, despite being an engineer and a very go-ahead sort of general, he opted for a fast destroyer instead

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Maybe infra dig?

May be, or just playing safe?

Flying was by no means 100% sure in those days, even after hostilities ended

Aaron Aaronsohn (Intelligence agent and brother of Alex Aaronsohn DSO) died in a crash over the English Channel in 1919 while flying between London and the Paris peace conference

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I thought the RAF ran the first scheduled passenger service in the world taking VIP's to the peace conference.

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I thought the RAF ran the first scheduled passenger service in the world taking VIP's to the peace conference.

Perhaps Aaronsohn was not a VIP in this company

I understand he was traveling on something called a 'postal plane'; would that be RAF?

I just used this case to illustrate that flying was still a somewhat risky buisiness in those days

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The first flights to fly regularly despite the weather only took place for bombing raids in WW2 and for most passengers (leaving out SOE, etc) after WW2.

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The first flights to fly regularly despite the weather only took place for bombing raids in WW2 and for most passengers (leaving out SOE, etc) after WW2.

Check this link out Click Click, there was also an article in Aeroplane Monthly with photos in the last 6 months

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I believe that Airco Dh 4s were often used for ad hoc flights carrying a passenger in the observer's cockpit. This aircraft was both fast and reliable. It must have been a very uncomfortable and cold flight (and a long wait for the complimentary drinks and nuts). I can imagine that some VIPs preferred a slower but smoother means of transport.

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The Handley Pages were not used for passenger work until 1919, 8 seats were built into the fuselage. The aircraft used during the peace conference were designated as Dh4a s (not to be confused with the  Dh4b which was an American built combat version with the Dh9 seating arrangement but a half way decent engine) and had an enclosed two seat cabin built into the observer's position - this was to allow a minister and his private secretary to talk during flight. This arrangement was copied on many post war civil Dh4s and Dh9s. Some Dh4s had already been converted (in the field?) for passenger work by removing the gun mounting, installing a more comfortable seat (although in this case comfortable is relative) and a larger windscreen. (I think I'd still prefer Virgin Upper Class though), these were also retrospectively designated Dh4a.

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I've got a feeling HP's were occasionally used for passenger work prior to the armistice - it'll take some digging through my research to find it though

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Check this link out Click Click, there was also an article in Aeroplane Monthly with photos in the last 6 months

I did say regularly despite the weather. the early 'scheduled' flights were scheduled for the public rather than private flights. The first all weather flights were after WW2.

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I've got a feeling HP's were occasionally used for passenger work prior to the armistice - it'll take some digging through my research to find it though

I'd be interested to see any detail, I can find no account of use for passengers until the o/10 and o/11 conversions in 1919.

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I did say regularly despite the weather. the early 'scheduled' flights were scheduled for the public rather than private flights. The first all weather flights were after WW2.

I understood that the flying boat such as the Clippers operated schedualed passenger services.

All weather passenger services are still not available, as anyone who has been diverted due to fog can testify.

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I can find no account of use for passengers until the o/10 and o/11 conversions in 1919.

This thread is not about aircraft being dedicated to carry passengers, it concerns people (VIPs have been singled out) who travelled by air. This was uncommon but not unheard of before the end of the war. Passengers had been flying in aircraft since before the war.

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This thread is not about aircraft being dedicated to carry passengers, it concerns people (VIPs have been singled out) who travelled by air. This was uncommon but not unheard of before the end of the war. Passengers had been flying in aircraft since before the war.

Which is what I was talking about

BTW do you own this thread?

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I've bottomed out the use of HP o/400s. Two of these were used from April 1918 to carry ferry pilots back from France to England. They appear to have been basically bog standard bombers with at best some improvised seats. 12 passengers were carried. There is no mention of them being used for VIPs. Before the end of the war work was set in pace to convert some o/400s for VIP transport. This involved replacing the fuselage fuel tanks with elongated ones down each side of the bomb bay with the resultant space being used for seats. Emergency exit from the aircraft was provided by a fireman's pole which ran down through the bomb bay. A Guardian Angel parachute was placed under each seat for in flight emergency, exit being via same pole.  "In the unlikely event of having to abandon the aircraft in flight you will find under your seat ......." These aircraft were used in 1919 for the peace conference to ferry members of the British delegation.

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Which is what I was talking about

BTW do you own this thread?

Then I am surprised that you can find no account in primary sources of passengers including VIPs being carried in aircraft prior to the armistice.

I didn't realise that it had been decreed that only the owner of the thread could point out a tangent.

Edited by per ardua per mare per terram
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Then I am surprised that you can find no account in primary sources of passengers being carried in aircraft prior to the armistice.

I didn't realise that it had been decreed that only the owner of the thread could point out a tangent.

Plenty of accounts from well before the war of senior officers being borne aloft but none of them being carried from a to b which I think is the point of this thread.

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I didn't realise that it had been decreed that only the owner of the thread could point out a tangent.
.

 

The original posting included "What aircraft would have been used?" so no tangent

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VIPs certainly went aloft at times. There is an account of an American pilot taking 40 passengers up in an HP V/1500 on 15th Nov 1918. This was a world record at the time. They did a sightseeing tour over London returning to the same place they took off from near London Colney. The passengers included members of the House of Lords and, I think, at least one MP. Interestingly the account states that the aircraft carried enough fuel for a six hour trip and so "could have flown to Paris if circumstances had permitted". This does imply that there were some restrictions in place at the time. Possibly the trip had originally been intended as a flight to France?

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QUOTE (Phil_B @ Dec 4 2009, 10:01 AM) <{POST_SNAPBACK}>
Interesting that VIPs had parachutes but not aircrew!

The operation of the Guardian Angel parachute was such that was deemed impractical as an air crew chute (and many trials had been carried out to come to this conclusion) Although I've seen no details as to how the VIPs were intended to use theirs from reading other accounts of the use of the chute (for agent dropping etc) it would seem likely that they would have to don the harness, carry the chute to the escape hatch, hook it onto something and then slide down the pole, their falling weight would drag the chute out of its container and a small sub chute would deploy it. One of the draw backs of this chute was the need for the aircraft to be kept flying relatively steady at the time which was one reason why it would be difficult for the pilot at least to use it.

In the mid war years there was an opposite problem as some airlines issued the crew with Irving parachutes but not the passengers. An Imperial Airlines airliner was en route to Switzerland and flying through a pass in the mountains when it encountered a severe snow storm.  It was being forced down so that the pilots did not think it would clear the top of the pass. Sitting in their open and isolated cockpit facing what they thought was certain death they had the choice of bailing out and abandoning the passengers and flight attendant or staying and crashing with the aircraft. They stayed and the aircraft cleared the ridge by at best a few feet. After that there was a demand by pilots that parachutes should not be carried on airliners so they would never be faced with such a moral dilemma.

Interestingly just after WW2 Vickers Viking airliners for a short time carried parachutes under the passengers' seats.

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The original posting included "What aircraft would have been used?" so no tangent

The original posting included "What aircraft would have been used?" Not dedicated aircraft for passanger travel. Passengers, including VIPs (a term usually not confined to senior officers) flew from A to B before the peace conference.

All aircraft at this stage were fragile and flights hazardous; one only has to think of the death of JTB McCudden, VC, DSO*, MC*, MM, Croix de Guerre in 1918. Flights continued to be hazardous in WW2 (passenger losses included Glen Miller), and they are still today.

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