Friday, December 11, 2009

Ike Visits The Raymor Crew in Pleasantville

April 17 1919 

The Martinsyde Aeroplane, RAYMOR Makes Successful Trial Flight from Airfield at Pleasantville.   

Today Ike had the excuse he had been waiting for; he had been just given a telegram by the dispatcher addressed to the Martinsyde crew chief.
"Eric you are going to like this. here is a message for you to deliver to the guy in charge of those fliers set up at the Ross's field down in Pleasantville. The message mentions that they are going to attempt a test flight sometime today."

When Ike arrived he took a quick look around. The craft was being worked on by a crew of 3 mechanics. Ike immediately recognized them as the two that he and Dick were talking with at the dock just a couple of days ago. There were two others who were looking on and supervising the proceedings. Ike notices that the one is wearing the bolder hat is the same one he saw at the dock as the one with the wooden leg, he looks more like a banker than a flyer.
“I am looking for a Mr. Raynham” Ike asked of the two supervisors.
"That would be me." said the older looking one.
“I got a telegram for you sir” said Ike in his east end Irish Catholic accent.
"Thank you son!" said the aviator.
"Do you mind if I stay a little while and watch sir?"
"No! not at all." Morgan and Raynham answered.
"Are you interested in aeroplanes?" Said Morgan.
Oh yes sir, I am very interested in the race for the Atlantic, I have been following all the developments since the flyers started arriving." Said Ike. "My job takes me to the airfields delivering telegrams and packages to the crews ~~ I saw Hawker making a test flight, just the other day."
"Thats very interesting; by the way what's your name son? It's Eric sir, Eric Crocker.
"My name is Charles Morgan, but everyone around here calls me Fax; I am the navigator and my partner here is Fred Raynham, he is our pilot."

Ike hands over the envelope containing the telegram to Fred.
"Listen to this Fax. Said Fred, slapping the paper with the back of his hand, so as to give emphasis to what he was about to say.  Old Vice Admiral Kerr will be here in a couple of weeks with his monstrosity of an aircraft. I'd give anything to be the one who takes the prize away from him; what does he know about flying ~~ he certainly didnt come up the hard way, like the rest of us.
I can just imagine that he will soon have the whole Island working for his team   said Fax. reaching to take the telegram from Freds hand. I heard talk about this Kerr when I signed on at Martinsyde, they said that he was a real operator.
 "We know from what we just heard from Eric; that Hawker is already doing test flights."
"We had better get moving or we will loose our time advantage."
"Eric how can we find you if we need to?" said Fax.
"Just phone the Reid railway station sir, number 196; everyone there knows me there, I'll get the message, in no time."
"Have they finished installing those new set of spark plugs?"
"Let's ask Sam." said Fred, spinning around on one heel and starting for the mechanic working on the engine. "Sam how are you blokes doing? Is she ready to take up for a spin?"
 "Yes sir, everything is ready there is enough fuel in the tanks for a 3 hour flight and the radiator has been topped."

Ike stayed around for a while as they prepared the Martinsyde for it's first test flight since arriving in Newfoundland. The Martinsyde was smaller, faster and more nimble in appearance than Hawker's Sopwith. She was a little 2 bay strutted biplane with a single in-line water cooled Rolls Rice Falcon engine mounted in the nose. She had bright yellow wings and brilliant red fuselage and tail; with the word "RAYMOR" painted on the side of the fuselage. Ike looked at the lettering and thought to himself: I bet that marking is a made-up word using the first three letters of the aircrew's names, Raynham and Morgan.

Ike marveled at the way 2 mechanics linked wrists together, while the one nearest the aircraft catching hold of the wooden propeller with his free hand. At the signal "switch off contact" they together, swing the propeller through half a revolution a couple of times, to prime the cylinders with fuel. Then on the signal "switch-on contact", the mechanics once again, swing the propeller and with a cloud of black smoke the huge engine sputtered into life. Then began to run smoothly as she was swung around and headed to the down wind end of the field assisted by the three mechanics positioned at each wing tip and one at the rear guiding her along over the rough ground.

The craft slowly proceeded to the far end of the north field where she was turned southward towards the roadway lying closer to the water the road is flatter and affords the best chance for a clean take-off into the light westerly wind.

Ike heard the engine begin to rev and warm up. The with a mighty roar the craft slowly gathered speed heading right at the spot where he stood.  He stood in aah as the Martinsyde appeared to become light on her undercarriage. Then bounced a couple of times on the rough ground and all at once Ike realized she was in the air, and climbing quickly as she passed directly over his head.

She presented a magnificent site with her yellow wings and brilliant red fuselage she continued her climb now following the Rennies River valley. As he peddled his bicycle back to the Railway Office he could from time to time hear the drone of the engine as the Martinsyde gracefully circled overhead. At that moment he thought of how exciting his life had become, and vowed to himself to follow this historical aviation event as closely as his job obligations would permit.   

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