Flight, June 5, 1914.
Building and flying an aeroplane out in South Africa is not exactly a Sunday school picnic, according to a letter I have received from Mr. A. K. Robertson, of Chiselhurst, Cambridge, Cape Province. Mr. Robertson's handiwork bears a slight resemblance to the Caudron biplane and took six months to build, only such materials as were unobtainable out there being imported. The work of construction was enlivened occasionally in the most unusual manners. Once, for instance, during a temporary suspension of operations, a family of rats was found comfortably installed in one of the extensions of the upper plane. On another occasion a swarm of bees took a fancy to the machine, much to the disgust of the erecters who did not relish the idea of working in a beehive, whilst it was an everyday occurrence for tarantulas to promenade up and down the ribs.
However, ultimately the machine was finished, and hauled down behind a motor car at night (to avoid the traffic) to the local racecourse. One fine morning, with a wind of only 10 m.p.h., the machine was tried, with the result shown in one of the accompanying photographs. Mr. Robertson, who had no previous experience in piloting an aeroplane, got into the seat, and a friend took hold of a wing tip while the engine was run throttled down. After deciding that everything was behaving "according to Cocker," Mr. Robertson nodded to his friend to let go, but the latter, not quite understanding the complexities of starting an aeroplane, "hung on like a true Briton," and did some giant leaps when the throttle was opened out. He was ultimately persuaded to let go, and after a run along the ground the machine was elevated a few feet and did a hop of about 400 yards. At this moment she was caught by a gust and raise to a height of about 50 ft. Before Mr. Robertson could get her nose down again she stalled and did a pancake from which there was no time to recover.
Mr. Robertson finishes his letter with the following brief but eloquent sentence: "I am rebuilding."
That's the right spirit. Stick to it, and better luck next time!