National Geographic : 1940 Dec
The National Geographic Magazine the baby sleeping comfortably on the shelf be hind the seat. Once, when climbing over some mountains was difficult, they used the prin ciples of gliding* to locate an upcurrent of air and got over with its help! There's an airplane showroom today on Park Avenue, New York. You can buy planes, like autos, on the installment plan. One popu lar two-seater features "two-tone upholstery; glove (or radio) compartment; cabin heater; navigation lights; hydraulic brakes; parking brake; exhaust muffler; chrome-plated con trol sticks; modern wheel pants; hand-rubbed finish." Yes, it's an airplane, not an auto mobile they're describing! There are "Fly-Yourself," airplanes avail able, too, run as the auto renting agencies, offering planes equipped with blind flying in struments, two-way radio, and direction find ers. Light planes will climb 12,000 to 19,000 feet, have a cruising range of 200 to 320 miles at around 100 miles an hour, carry useful loads of 500 to 700 pounds. Rich men have big, luxuriously fitted pri vate planes, comparable to private railroad cars or yachts. But more and more the "average man" is flying-filling station own ers, mail carriers (who should appreciate it!), doctors, salesmen. And what do air line and military pilots do on their days off? Fly their own light planes, of course! The Private Plane Arrives Soon, aviation people predict, the best fish ing camps, hotels, beach resorts and ski slopes will have landing fields for light planes, just as they now have parking lots. At one recent "air meet" in Florida, 500 light planes were assembled. One girl hitch-hiked to and from the meeting-by air! There are some 10,000 private airplanes in the United States today, compared to about 322 on the air lines. Learning to fly now is a standardized course, prescribed by the Administrator of Civil Aero nautics. There are 500 approved flying schools. Planes are faster, safer, land in smaller spaces. With more women flying, manufacturers are putting more "eye appeal" into planes. En gines seldom fail in the air nowadays. And if you take your girl along-well; it's safer to drive an airplane than an automobile with one hand! There's plenty of room in the air, but, many flyers feel, not enough places to come down. They want more small landing fields scattered about, so you can go to more places in an air plane. People are taking aerial vacations, now, not only all over the United States, but in Canada, Mexico, and Central America. That is creating a demand for airplane tourist camps so that a flyer need not travel several miles to town after he lands to find food and a place to sleep. There are about 2,000 civil airports in the United States today, plus 282 intermediate fields along the charted airways, and 86 Army and Navy air stations. Airports range from little one-hangar fields with no paved run ways, to New York's gigantic LaGuardia Field with seven vast hangars, each one with a floor area larger than Madison Square Gar den, a barber shop, two restaurants, and even a bar and grill, the Kitty Hawk Room, named for the scene of the Wrights' first flight. (A girl asked, once, if Kitty Hawk was a famous woman flyer!) The runways and taxi strips at this field cover 90 acres, a good-sized farm, and total 3 2/3 miles in length. Fifteen air liners can load at once without crowding. In a Control Tower Nerve center of any large airport is the glass-enclosed control tower, where at rush hours two or three men are literally as busy as the proverbial one-armed paper hanger. A babel of voices, hardly intelligible to an un accustomed ear, comes into the New York tower over 23 loudspeakers from planes ar riving, departing, or on the ground (page 700). With microphone in hand and seemingly with eyes in the back of his head, Larry Walsh, genial dispatcher, explained the tower's work ings to me. "Those dials in front of us show the wind direction and speed, temperature, barometer reading, and time of day," he said. "This one shows the direction in which the 'tee' out on the edge of the field is pointing. It indicates wind direction on the ground to pilots as they arrive over the field." A voice came hoarsely from a loudspeaker. "Hello, LaGuardia. Stewart, United 28, over Metuchen at 40 (4:40 p.m.) at three five hundred (3,500 feet)." Quickly came Larry's reply: "Stewart, United 28. That is okay. Wind northwest 15, N. W. one five. Runway number 5. Proceed (to come in)." "When it's foggy," he went on, "the Air ways Traffic Control can keep 10 or 12 planes 'holding' at points of intersection on the radio ranges and bring 'em down and in as fast as safety will permit. They stay at assigned levels, 1,000 feet apart. As each plane lands the 'holding' flights are progressively assigned the next lower level." Again the loudspeaker blared. "United 28, * See "Men-birds Soar on Boiling Air," by Frederick G. Vosburgh, NATIONAL GEOGRAPHIC MAGAZINE, July, 1933.