It’s Got to Be Done.

As our family name is Wright, my brother’s visit with his wife on New Year’s Day reminded me of my flight to celebrate the 100th Anniversary on Dec 17th 2003, of Orville and Wilbur’s triumph at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina.


It was about 3 o’clock in the afternoon and, as evidenced by the long shadows, the sun was low in the sky. The strip was orientated NE/SW and I took off in the north-easterly direction for a quick 10 minute trip up to 1000′ or so and home again, just so that I’d done it on the famous day and besides which, it was too blinkin’ cold to be hanging about upstairs in an open cockpit.

VP1 100th anniversary flight

All went according to plan until I turned round to come back to the field. Then, as I was flying directly into the low sun I couldn’t see anything at all. I could see immediately below me and that was it. I established myself on a reciprocal course and as there wasn’t a breath of wind I was confident that I could probably set the throttle for a gentle descent of about 200′ a minute and have another look down to see where I was in a couple of minutes. At about 500′ and roughly a mile from where I thought the strip might be, I suddenly caught a flash of light on the ground – something was reflecting in the sunlight and I realised (and hoped) that it was probably the sunroof of my father’s car which he’d driven to the end of the runway so that he could capture the moment on film. I aimed for the reflection, landed completely blind and didn’t see anything in front of me until I’d touched down and was half way up the strip and in the shadow of the hangar. You don’t forget those moments!


Anyway, back to New Year’s Day and off we went to the local VSCC meeting and my car of the month was this RR. There was lots of other nice stuff and an especially desirable Bull Nose race-about but the Rolls 20/25 with coachwork by Freestone & Webb, clinched it – a very handsome car.

Jowett interior

The Jowett Jellybean is coming on – in fact there’s almost nothing to do now except get the bloke who’s meant to be doing the door catch surrounds to extractum digitum and I see that…

Jowett rear

.. Learned Counsel has even put the GB badge on in anticipation of a trip to Pau in the Spring.

Jupiter grille

Now the grilles are all finished and the proper headlights are in, things are looking good. And talking of things looking good, I’m a regular visitor to the website and amongst its articles and features I tripped over some stuff about those absolutely drop-dead gorgeous Italian speedboats that you used to see in the 50’s and 60’s films, in particular the 1958 Riva Tritone. That article led me to another site – – and it turns out you can buy the plans for these types of boats relatively cheaply and some of the boring stuff can be C-in-C cut so you can get on to the good bits a bit more quickly.

Hmmm. I’ve got a couple of Morris Six engines; hook those up to make a 12….. I think it’s got to be done.


3 comments on “It’s Got to Be Done.

  1. Sue Wilson says:

    Goodness, that’s the first time I have heard that story of the December flight into low sun! The plane looks like one of your father’s models not a real plane. He was very good at being in the right place to record the event.

  2. RAJ Wilson says:

    An interesting aspect of the Wright Bros is how far ahead of their rivals they were when they first took to the air. Despite retrospective revisionism the other experimenters seem to have been getting no-where. Without the Wrights the first flight would have been many years later.

    • I agree. I’m just about to start David McCullough’s new book ‘The Wright Brothers’. I think I must have at least 3 versions of their story so it’ll be interesting to read this new account.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s