GUSTAV HAMEL'S CAREER
A WONDERFUL AIR RECORD.
A BRILLIANT PILOT.
Tin; aeronautical correspondent of the London Daily Telegraph gives the following
account of the career of Gustav Hamcl, tie well-known aviator, who was lost at sea about May 23 last: One may justly term Gustav W. Hamel the finest aeroplane pilot that the world Las ever seen. He excelled in every branch
of this difficult art. Than bin there nover
I! has been a better cross-country pilot, and It | he is reputed never to have lost his way. I 1 A more consummate master of trick-flying II never lived; the air seemed to be his if native element, he revelled in it, and flow |f for the pure joy of t.!ie thing. I }' Son of a well-known London surgeon, a |i naturalised Englishman, he was, like so I j many other famous pilots, an expert motor EU. driver when aviation, then in its early I! stages, first attracted him. He was then j.j' only just 20 years of age. Ho joined the I Bleriot school— that time tho most Sj famous establishment of its kind in the || world— in 1911, and rapidly obtained Ij his pilot's certificate on a Bleriot mono|i plane on February 3 of that year. Thencejk forward Louis Bleriot himself entertained iij tho very highest opinion of his capabilities a as a, pilot, and subsequently events showed |j that this faith was fully justified.
! He soon returned to England, acquire*
a monoplane of his own, established him-
I self at Hendon— recently opened— | obtained his British pilot's certificate, and
started his active career in aviation. With-
in a few months he began to give proof of his brilliant qualities. In July he was selected to represent Great Britain in the international race for the Gordon-Bennett Cup, won the year before by Mr, Gra-hame-White.
A Disaster. •| M. Bleriot provided him with a fast k 100-h.p. racing monoplane. On the mornj ing of the race_ which took place at East- | church, in the fcle of Sheppey, Hamel j flew this machine over the course. The I trial proved his monoplane to be two : seconds slower than the Nieuport mono- ■ plane piloted by Weymann, the represen- * tative of the United States. Accordingly, i M. Bleriot resorted to the expedient of j still further, clipping the wings of the ! machine, in order to gain a little added i speed.
But the experiment proved disastrous, for Hamel, starting first, was rounding the inital mark when hie; machine side-slipped and crashed to the earth, *where it became a total wreck. Hamel fortunateiv, was
hurled clear and escaped with nothing more than slight concussion, although when the accident occurred he was speeding along at fully 80 miles an hour.
Thin was the only serious accident which ever befell him, and that through no fault of his own. The fact is a wonderful tribute to his abilities, for thenceforth he was flying practically every day, giving exhibitions throughout the country, often over the most hazardous places.
j A few weeks later he took part in the .'famous circuit ..of Britain. Still weak f from the results of bis accident, the strain ) was enormous, for in addition he was perj sistently dogged by misfortune. Time i after time his engine failed, and his mechanics were never at hand. Bat he | gallantly struggled on, nevertheless, until I ion the second day his engine broke down 11 finally. This was some 20 miles north ! ;of Dumfries. The occasion furnished yet I i another proof of his skill and coolness. On his way southward from Glasgow, he j had bees flying for 20 miles or so with a ; filtering engine over ridge after ridge of j wooded bills with never a landing-place in ! sight.
Dive into a Field..
/ When the final breakdown came, he [ happened to espy a small field—the first I one for many miles—and dived, into it. i The field proved to be a steep slope, end--1 ing in a sheer 10ft drop into a road. The wind was strong, and this, combined with the steepness of the slope, sent his machine ; rolling-, rapidly down the rise. Had he ; reached the drop into tie road, his ma- ;' chine -would have been utterly wrecked, ; | but at the last moment Hamel managed '| to jump -out'of his 6eat ; and bring the monoplane to a standstill. He was within j a foot of the wall.
jj On September 9, 1911, ho proved' the I hero of another fine achievement. The ■I I first aerial post had been organised, be- [ tween Hendon* and Windsor. The day J} came, and a high wind was blowing. The |J pilots refused to start; all except Hamel, , who, without the slightest hesitation, , soared aloft on his monoplane, with his |}mailbags, which he duly delivered at Wind- ; fior. He performed this journey over 20 i times in all. •
In connection with the same event he displayed a striking illustration of his innate generosity. One of the pilots' engaged in the work, Charles Hubert, had the misfortune to break both his legs in a fall. "As' he was devoid of means, and the organisers refused any compensation, Hamel promptly refused to fly any more unless Hubert was compensated, and gained his point.
j Among his . other more memorable | achievements of the last few years may )be mentioned his fi'equent cross-Channel j .ilights—he was the first to cross it with | a lady passenger, and easily held the reI cord for the number of crossings, which ; amounted to' about a score—and his splen- | did non-stop flight from Dover to Cologne j achieved in a little over fouf hours, through . continuous wind and rain.
1 7". Irony of Fats. Winner of countless races at Hendon, he gained second place in the first aerial Derby, flown in 1912, and won it easily last year. By the irony of fate, he lost : his life in attempting to retain the trophy. For the past year lie had been flying jMorano monoplanes. In the autumn' of . last year Pegoud and after him Hicks in- ' augurated the era of trick-flying and loop- ! ing. Their ma-chines were comparatively I alow and specially built for the purjwse, but Hamel was firmly convinced that he could perform the feat, dangerous though it appeared, on his fast monoplane. The first attempt failed and nearly ended in disaster, for he was unable to force his machine upside down; a dizzy dive ensued, the aeroplane falling sheer for hundreds of feet before Hamel recovered equilibrium. Without a pause ho climbed upward once more, made another attempt, and tins time succeeded brilliantly. Thereafter _ his progress in the new art was amazingly rapid. He acquired every trick and performed each with consummate mastery, a fiurenesa and deftness of touch which no other pilot has ever equalled. Scores of them have looped the loop and flown upside down, but not one of tnem ever had the Hamel touch or his genius. Twice he cave looping demonstrations before the King at Windsor by Royal command.
Idol of the Crowds. In figure he was slight, almost fraillooking, with a pale, clear face and crisply curling fair hair. He was the idol of the Hendon crowds, and a universal favourite. His death is the greatest blow that has yet befallen British aviation; it. has robbed the world of a charming personality and its greatest pilot. And in a manner the end was fitting. With dramatic suddenness he leaped into the public view: meteor-like his trail blazed across the firmament. And now, in the' very midst of his fame, he has vanished for ever into that mystery of the air. whose great spaces he loved so well,