Tonight is “la Plantá” here in Valencia, the first official day of the Fallas. Not a particular fan of these fiestas -to the “non-fallero” Valencians the Fallas could be quite insufferable-, but from time to time you can enjoy real pieces of art like this one. This British Airways Concorde duplicate was the main theme of the Plaça de l’Ajuntament (País Valencià then) falla of 1981.
Artist: Vicente Luna.
Antonio Cañete Heredia was a Spanish military pilot and engineer who in the early 1920s designed and built a successful glider flying boat, the Gaviota (Gull). Emboldened by the experience took the logical next step. His Pirata (Pirate) or “Hidro Antonio Cañete de Reconocimiento” (HACR) was conceived as a military recon parasol wing, single-engined flying boat. Due to the crude state of metallurgy industry in Spain, Cañete was forced to use galvanised iron in the main structure; wood and fabric was employed in the rest.
Powered by a locally built 450 hp Elizalde-Lorraine, the Pirata made its maiden flight in the summer of 1927 with its designer on board as an observer. During its tests the Pirata proved to be a sound design, but it was not to be. Lack of money -the usual Spanish curse- or the already available Dornier Wal sealed its possible future. Only this prototype was built.
It was undeniably a slick effort.
The original H-1 was designed by Richard Palmer by order of Howard Hughes who wanted a record-beating aircraft. Built in 1935 without regard to costs, the Racer was a thing of beauty both aesthetically and technically. With Hughes at its controls it fulfilled its task magnificently setting a world airspeed record and a transcontinental speed record across continental US. To achieve those divergent exploits the same aircraft employed two different set of wings. The H-1 had also the rare honour of being the last private owned/built aircraft to hold an absolute air speed record. The H-1 resided nowadays proudly at the National Air and Space Museum.
The beauty portrayed here is Jim Wright’s built full-scale replica originally intended to be used in the film “The Aviator.” First flown in 2002, Wright sadly didn’t enjoyed it too much; he died tragically in the crash that destroyed it the summer of 2003.
Artistic close-up view of a well-worn Le Rhône 9C, also known as the Le Rhône 80hp, showing its characteristic copper induction pipes and single push-pull rods.
Not all was poetry though. Those rotary engine used castor oil as a lubricant which produced a nauseating smell when burned. Even worse, castor oil is a potent laxative; let’s say constipation was not an issue for this kind of engine operators, pilots included.
Relishing with gusto Le Corbusier’s 1935 book “Aircraft”. In that classic work, the peerless architect placed aviation as the pinnacle of modern technical achievement. It was then indeed.
He also declared the ecstatic feeling aviation produced in him. He surely disguised well his emotions: the Super Connie was his preferred aircraft.
I’ve already talked about the Collings Foundation’s Liberator, not to speak of my personal obsession with the Ball.
“The spirit is willing but the flesh is weak”, my friends.
Like Patti Smith’s song my relation with the Black 6 has always been a torrid one, I must confess. So imagine my shock when I’ve discovered tonight a bunch of stupendous photos taken during an engine night run. These photos have just been published in the highly recommendable Me 109/ Black 6 Facebook place. They’ve been so kind to allow me to share one of them in here. Muchas gracias, my friends.
With her heart burning bright. This is by far my favourite.