On the Isle of Wight
Emeregency Landing on the Isle of Wight
Courtesy of Lannie Liggera, 7-14-09
Loraine's diary, excerpted from his wife's book, reads:
"I walked back with him [Latham] to the little hotel at Sangatte (spelled it wrong the first time, sorry, folks!] where he sat down on his bed and cried like a child." [I have Hotel de la Plage written in the margin of the book, probably from reading French accounts]. Certainly no owner would have let Robert take off into a storm.
He became completely lost in the clouds. His wrist watch was stopped by the rain, so he had no idea how long he had been flying, or how much fuel was left. He had no compass. Then he lost his sense of gravity--which occurred with early aviators. He could not tell if he was rightside up or slantwise. He came down on a golf course at the Needles, and commented, "This is the first time I had ever missed a bunker and later, when I heard it was the 18th green, I knew it was the first time I had ever done a golf-course in one."
(quotes by permission of Joan Loraine).
When the reporter arrived, Robert was quoting from Tennyson's Locksley Hall. While some actors felt as if someone had pulled the plug out after a performance, Loraine was always euphoric, a state musicians call "walking on the ceiling."The Farman was moved and left to dry out.
Courtesy of Lannie Liggera, 7-14-09
I think there is a quote from Vedrines' Memoir pertinent to Robert's take-off from the Needles to fly back to Bournemouth.
Vedrines divined that Robert was afraid; the Needles are a straight, sheer cliff, with water below. Vedrines writes,
"Oh, in that he was no different from any other pilot.There is not an airman among us who has not spent anguished moents after some particularly trying flight, wondering--when the hour comes for him to take the air again--whether he should go on risking his life."
I assume this is from Vedrines' Memoir, though I haven't been able to find a copy of it yet. Winifred's book is not under copyright so I do not need permission to quote, but I do have Joan's permission to do so.
on the Isle of Wight
Collection of Krissy & Eddie, 8-15-08
Whilst clearing out our loft, I have come across a two page booklet marked August 1910 "the first aeroplane ever landed on the Isle of Wight." Inside are four photographs and a back page of info on the flight.
You can see a copy of the booklet which Eddie has shared with us by clicking on the title.
Contributed by Lannie Liggera, 8-31-10
Yet as if to underscore just how courageous this flight was, no private pilot on the Isle will take off today, even in a closed cockpit aircraft with a full instrument panel, for the wind is gusting slightly above forty knots per hour, so Joan will have to wait until the next day for a Cessna to fly her over her father’s route to Bournemouth. It emphasizes what a feat Robert accomplished a hundred year ago in his Henry Farman racer #12, with no cockpit, a rudimentary seat on the lower wing, and only a strut to hang into with one hand and the other hand on the joystick. In Robert’s day, pilots mainly flew only in calm weather, sometimes even lighting a match to see if the flame held steady; however, Robert felt the aeroplane was useless if it could only fly in calm weather with no rain.
Richard Holleyman has arranged a display Lorainiana in the corner of the hangar. He has also tracked down Robert’s surviving daughter, Joan, via a page on the internet which displays the psychadelic school of art work of John Huxford, which included a commission for Joan’s garden, Greenecombe. On seeing her face, he instantly recognized the family features, and rang her up. Joan is now wheelchair bound, but, with the help of a driver, she arrived from Porlock on the mainland with the crated-up portrait of her father by Charles Buchel.
Also present are the author a forthcoming biography and her husband, freshly arrived from America. Joan had exclaimed that a wonderful thing was going to happen, and so, the author’s husband said, “Let’s go now before we have time to think about it!”
On that day a hundred years ago, while flying was showing signs of shutting down for the day at the Bournemouth Aviation meet, as a huge thunderstorm was approaching. When Robert’s crew rolled out his machine, there was silence in the stands. Robert revved his engine, while scores of people held onto it, as it had no brakes. His mechanic, Jules Vedrines, nodded; the engine was behaving properly, so Robert raised his arm and the crowd let go.
He flew directly into the thunderstorm. Gusting was so strong it drove the rain right through his jacket, hitting his chest like a piece of watery buckshot. It also stopped his wrist watch, the only instrument he had, which would have told him how much fuel he had left. He flew over the Solent, a stretch of water between the Isle and the mainland, with visibility at nil. Gusting drove him past the Isle of Wight out over the English Channel heading south. Only a sudden lift of cloud enabled him to see the Needles, at the very end of the Isle, which saved him from death by drowning. As he came to its steep slopes a huge gust picked him up and blew him up from the waters of the Solent up the clifts of the Isle, to the Highdowns. Norman Macmillan describes the topography brillinatly:”Her white cliffs, sparkling in the westering sun shine, stood like up ended snow-clouds in dimenuendo towards the Needles” A group of local people wheeled his aircraft down into a chalk pit dug by farmers who used its product to ‘sweeten’ their fields, a process now forbidden, the pit itself becoming part of the National Trust.
It was long ago, but someone had to have the courage to try to fly in a storm, and that someone was Robert Loraine.
Editor's Note:If time permits, visit the website of Joan Loraine's
I think you will be overwhelmed, as I was.