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Science: Britons Aloft

2 minute read

Some 30 miles away, at Farnborough, Britain held its annual air show, inviting some 6,000 foreign visitors, military and civilian, to admire and buy the flying products of British airplane makers. The visitors gyrated in machines that simulate the violent motions of a jet fighter in flight; they were shot in an ejector seat up a vertical runway; they drank champagne in booths maintained by sales-conscious manufacturers.

Stars of the show were Britain’s newest jet engines. De Havilland’s Gyron has 15,000 Ibs. of static thrust, is claimed to be the most powerful in the world. The Rolls-Royce Conway, a “bypass jet” with 13.000 Ibs. of thrust (TIME, July 4), was shown at Farnborough for the first time.

The “static” showing of airplane components is not what made Farnborough famous. The general public, admitted for three days, came in hundreds of thousands to see airplanes do breathtaking stunts.

Three years ago a De Havilland DH-110 jet fighter disintegrated and plunged into a crowd, killing 28, but the crowds last week did not seem nervous when almost untested new airplanes flashed a few feet over their heads. Many of the airplanes were supersonic, but much to the crowd’s disappointment, they all kept below the speed of sound. Britain’s air officialdom has probably decided that the shock waves stirred up by the latest airplanes are too dangerous even for Britain’s gluttons-for-punishment public.

Test Pilot Roland Falk had been kidded by the press when he claimed he could roll his Vulcan, a delta-wing bomber the size of a big airliner. Last week, although scheduled only to make a low pass over the field, he rolled the great bomber like a jet fighter. Said a U.S. Air Force colonel: “I’ve never seen such a thing in my life.” Said Falk: “I dared not ask them to let me do it. They might have said no.”

Even this stunt was topped by Polish-born Test Pilot Jan Zurakowski in a CF-100, a Canadian-built interceptor. The CF-100 is also too big for much stunting, but Zurakowski flew it backwards. He shot up in a vertical climb until the airplam lost speed and slid down tail first. Then he flicked it over into a normal dive. An) pilot would be hard put to think of a more dangerous stunt that can be done with ar airplane.

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