Letter re: R33 test flight (7th October 1925)

Wed. Oct. 7th

My dear Mother,

I received your letter of 5th at Harleston this morning. Most of us returned to Bedford to-day. The original intention had been to make three short flights on the pressure tests we were engaged on but the reports of a short spell of fine weather decided Scott & Richmond in making one long flight & attempting to do the whole job in one fell swoop. The which we did.

As you have learnt we left Pulham at approx. 5 pm on Monday, and, getting to work almost straight away, kept at it for 19 hours. Uren & I must have walked miles in looking after the apparatus and so on. None of the ‘staff of technical experts’ (as the ‘Mail’ called us) had any sleep, & Uren & I didn’t sit down except to eat our supper & breakfast. It was a job well & truly done I think, and I hope all the photographs we took (nearly 500) are successes.

Scott himself describes the flight as ‘historic’. The work done aboard the ship has never been done before on an airship and probably (assuming success when we have developed all our photos) never will be again, certainly never on such a scale. Compliments & thanks all round.

I had very little time to play about but managed to see the Dawn over the Channel. The sunrise on the mist over the sea was perfectly marvellous – all gauzy colours merging into the white mist, which, below, was not thick enough to hide the sea & shipping. Towards the end of the flight, as well, I had time to go aft & climb through to the little cockpit at the very tip of the tail. The view aft is of course absolutely uninterrupted and one looks on the world & sees that it is round. So:-

You will send my parcel to Bedford as usual, please. I may have to go back to Pulham for the other experiments that are to be done, but my presence is not essential so may not go. I shall have to go to Bury St Edmunds for my car though, so may kill two birds with one stone – one trip at H.M’s expense.

I hope you are all well & that G’ma Stern continues to improve. I have a cold caught driving over with Ropey on Sunday. Incidentally some of the papers said ‘R33 limps home’ & that sort of thing. It is quite wrong. One engine was out towards the end, but this is no hardship as cruising is generally done with 3 or 4 of the engines only although there are 5 altogether. A minor mishap, occasioning one day to repair. Tell all your friends. The ‘Express’ should be prosecuted.

Love to Gma & Dad

Your son, Harold

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