Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated August 2010


From David Dawson-Taylor

Recipients of the monthly newsletter will have noticed that a list of Shute enthusists has been included at the end of each issue. It has been decided that, in lieu of this listing, a separate page will be included on the NSN website showing the same details, country by country - see (also shown as a menu item on the home page under "Local Shutists"). If anyone is not on these lists, and would like to be included, please email me at with your name, town/village, county/state, country and email address.

FROM Gadepalli Subrahmanyam

Dear Ms. Eunice,

Apparently, your comment in July newsletter was in response to mine in the June news letter.

I merely pointed out that our favorite author - notwithstanding his wrong predictions- continues to be subject of our adoration. In fact, I was reading his autobiography for the ninth time.

He has been reticent about his romantic interludes, including those with his wife, except for a passing remark that he met her during his stint with a flying club. In his books also, sex forms a very low under current, as against humanism, which is the thread that links all his characters. Nowadays, there is hardly a book, without sex element and humanism, takes a back seat !

It is again Arthur C. Clarke that said ' Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic'. But our Nevil Shute, puts development of technology as hard work, checking and rechecking, and not a flash in the pan.

FROM Al Benkelman

I just finished rereading the Pied Piper for umteen time, one of my favorites, It is always nice to go back and read one of Nevil Shute's books when you are in a dry place between books. My wife has cancer and I am the care giver and reading one of his gives me a needed lift.

FROM Charles D

It is understandable that he would downplay the aeroplane, since he was in the position of trying to promote the airship. His employer would have expected it. He had to make the airship look like a good prospect going forward. He probably changed his tune after he began producing aeroplanes.

The below article explains the current state of the art of the blimp.,1122,1149">

June 18, 2010 Airships were once the giants of the skies. They were soaring before the airplane and were used as the first strategic bombers in World War I. What happened? Blimp technology has come a long way since the Hindenburg. Ira Flatow and guests discuss airships of the past and future.

The U.S. Army has awarded Northrop Grumman a $517 million to build up to three Long Endurance Multi-Intelligence Vehicle hybrid airship systems - also known as observation blimps. The airships will be just longer than a football field, be able to linger at 20,000 feet over Afghanistan for more than three weeks providing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance for soldiers, Northrop Grumman said in a news release. They're set to start flying in 18 months.

Slow travel: A British proposal for a luxury airship called Aircruise, which would carry 100 passengers from New York to London in 37 hours, compared with seven hours by jet.

From Julian M. Stargardt

Re-reading "Slide Rule" I decided on the spur of the moment to see what I could find out about Magersuppe, pilot of the Tern glider, Airspeed's first aircraft. Here my findings. His name was Carl &quiot;Carli&quqot; Magersuppe. He came from Kassel, Germany. He was quite famous and highly regarded among British and German gliding circles in the late 1920s and early 1930s. He was employed by the Scarborough gliding club in 1930-31. In "Slide Rule" NSN muses about the likelihood that Magersuppe became a Luftwaffe pilot. He seems to have survived the war and to have done a high altitude alpine landing as part of a team in 1958. He may have settled in the USA. Certainly the name Carl Magersuppe occurs there, particularly in Connecticut. According to some German reports Magersuppe also had an alias or pen-name "Charlie Marsen". I came across one reference on google for a "Charlie Marsen" in Pennsylvania in March 1945 and have included it under "possible connections".

I hope the information collected from various sources (all referenced) on 6 and 7 July 2010 is useful and enables others to trace Magersuppe further.


Airspeed's designs and some on-line references thereto.

First design 3 seater single engine Gypsy Moth powered high wing mono-plane 6 not built. Designers Tiltman / Norway


Second design Tern. Built, circa 1931. 2 completed and 1 completed parts, not assembled. Designers Tiltman / Norway. Test pilot Norway. Competition and demonstration pilot, Carl Magersuppe noted German glider pilot active in the UK 1930 - 31. Achieved UK gliding records for a British designed and built glider of (a) 8+ miles, (b) 25+ miles. See: (i) Nevil Shute Tern photos 1931 and (ii) Nevil Shute Tern 1931 materials and 2000 drawing these files contain compilations of materials with their on-line source references. For references and information on Magersuppe, see below. Magersuppe, Carl, aka Marsen, Charlie. Test-pilot of the Tern glider, Airspeed's first aircraft, captured UK gliding records and promoted Airspeed.

Account of Magersuppe's Tern flight

Photos, line drawings, reports, specifications, advertisement and performance data mostly from 1931:

Sailplane July 1931 cover article and photo of Magersuppe gliding

"Flight" 18 July 1930 account of Magersuppe's gliding prowess at Scarborough in an 80mph wind

Remains of Magersuppe's Scarborough glider

Magersuppe - alias "Charli" or "Charlie" Marsen - a glider instructor at Nordhausen before going to the UK in or about 1930

Magersuppe possibly still flying in 1958

Full article link at

Same article with photos of the 1958 alpine flight and landing in which Magersuppe took part

Sailplane Correspondence 14 Nov 1930 thanking Magersuppe for his information on eddies, with fascinating insights into the state of gliding in 1930

Oct 8, 1931 report of Magersuppe gliding in the UK

Report of Magersuppe's 1930 Scarborough crash - reference to his connection to Kassel

1931 Film of Magersuppe gliding at Sutton Bank, Yorkshire, UK

Description: "GLIDING ALONG - FILMED AT SUTTON BANK YORKSHIRE Gliding Club in Yorkshire. Meeting of a gliding club - some aerial shots from glider of Yorkshire countryside. South Bank, Yorkshire MLS group of people scattered across top of hillside in Yorkshire; some sitting some standing. CU pilot Mr. Magersuppe holding up an instrument to test the wind's direction, and looking up at sky. MLS 5 men sit on the gound; 2 in front grasp bar attached to glider; those behind hold onto them around the waist. View from glider going over rural landscape, part of man's face in rt FG. Nice shot from ground looking up at glider flying under clouds. Back to aerial. Another view from ground of glider flying overhead and away over hillside with scruffy bushes. Aviation, gliders, clubs, amateur, recreation"

Film details:
Tape Master: 6794
Catalogue No.: 446359
Original Film: EP 287
Clip No: 446359-1
Actual Date: 27 April 1931
Current Location of film and Contact: or Tel: 800 777 2223

Report of the founding flights of the German gliding club "Heggen" in 1931, in which Magersuppe took part.">"> Original text

Another account

Historical development of Flugplatz Hunsborn, Germany - reference to (glider) sports teacher Magersuppe from Kassel (translated from the German)

History of Bowland Forest Gliding Club (UK). Cap 6 pg 1 notes that the star attraction on 29 - 30 Nov, 1930, the founding flying days of the Preston & District Gliding Club, was Scarborough Gliding Club Instructor Carl Magersuppe.

Magersuppe - Possible Connections

Reference to a Charlie Marsen in Reading, Berks County, Pennsylvania, USA in March 1945 Note: In this article Charlie Marsen is noted to have been drinking with a Jonny Wittig, a raketeer

Reference to a Danbury CT, USA, resident Carl Magersuppe, jr's daughter's engagement in 2008 in Connecticut's News Times Full announcement at published 7pm (EST) 11 Jan 2008

Carl Magersuppe, Vietnam Vet. Has Agent Orange appeal granted Nov 2007, Connecticut Post ( Published: 08:00 p.m., Saturday, November 3, 2007

Karl Magersuppe's marionette theatre history (possibly father of "Carl" Magersuppe - "Carl" is the most common Anglicized version of the German name Karl - though both are also the same as the French origin name Charles, all being descended from the Latin Carolus, another Anglicised version being Carol, now most commonly used as a female name)

An English language account of Karl Magersuppe's Marionette Theatre

US ancestry website info on Carl Magersuppe

Japanese library record pointing to Magersuppe

Airspeed Personalities

FROM John Anderson


Nevil Shute moved up to Howden in the spring of 1926 to work on the R 100 airship. He must have discovered the Yorkshire Aero Club at Sherburn in Elmet very soon after he moved up there. That September he was in the Club's team of four taking part in the Inter Club Team Relay race at the Lancashire Aero Club at Barton near Manchester. The race was run as a relay for D.H. Moths in heats, two competing aircraft being placed on a line with the pilot behind a line 50 yards away. The pilots ran to their machines, took off, flew a prescribed circuit and had to land precisely back on the line, leap out and run to tag the next pilot in the team. If the pilot over or under - shot then he and his partner had to wheel the machine back to the line, taxiing on the ground was not allowed. The Yorkshire team comprised R.W.Kenworthy, H.S.Carter, E.B. Fielden and Nevil Shute. The winners were the team from the Newcastle Aero Club, each member receiving an engraved silver tankard. It is not known where the Yorkshire team finished, but it would have been a good day out flying their two Moths over the Pennines from Sherburn and back again.

From Harvey Fetterly

Talk about prediction meeting with fantastic coincidence !

I happened to be rereading "In The Wet" (1953) as Queen Elizabeth II visited Winnipeg. She didn't stay long but I watched her aircraft taxi for takeoff on the news yesterday (July 3, 2010).

That part was only fairly coincidental as my Queen has visited Canada and Winnipeg several times and I'm always rereading Nevil Shute. Let's call it a possible "Freudian coincidence" because I made no concious decision to read "In The Wet" coincidentally with her visit. I just finished the part of "In The Wet" where she visits Canada in her new Ceres aircraft.

The aircraft that was taxiing was a Royal Air Force Airbus 333 (330-300) and I was thrilled to see the royal standard flying out the window.

I did a little research and found the following:-

I Quote:

"Britain's Queen Elizabeth has shelved plans for a £7 million private jet because of the credit crunch. The royal family was due to receive its first purpose-built private plane next month.
It was to be used to ferry the 82-year-old monarch, her family and senior government ministers to official appointments, improving security and reducing use of costly chartered aircraft.
But the queen and the government have decided to put the 12-seat plane on hold for 12 months, or until the global financial crisis eases.
Until then, royals will continue to fly in RAF aircraft or chartered planes.
Armed Forces Minister Bob Ainsworth said: 'Work has been carried out to explore solutions for non-scheduled and dedicated flights to support the Queen and members of the Royal Family in their official duties.
Pending the finalisation of this work the Ministry of Defence has agreed that The Royal Squadron will provide continued support to the Royal Family until April 1, 2010.' Plans for a dedicated royal aircraft were first drawn up in 1998, and dubbed Blair Force One after then-Prime Minister Tony Blair."


I don't know for sure what "purpose-built private plane" means but it seems to me that it is probably close enough to the Ceres in size and performance. It sounds like a good aircraft for the Queen's Flight. I wish we Canadians would give it to her so she could visit us even more often.

Now, here's where the fantastic part starts. I'm reading yesterdays paper and I see a headline "Britain to vote on electoral overhaul&quit; subheading "Referendum could lead to drastic change". It reads: "Prime Minister David Cameron's office said Friday that details will be announced next week on what could be the most sweeping reforms since British women won the vote in 1918, or the voting age dropped from 21 to 18 in the mid-1960s".

Those are the types of things discussed by David and Rosemary !

We happen to have a minority government in Canada at present, led by Steven Harper. I think a minority government is good government because all those politicians are forced to better get along and as the result end up better representing more people. The concept would also apply to coalition governments which is the target of that electoral overhaul. Anyway it is electoral reform happening in real time while I'm reading about development of better government in Britain in a book written 56 years ago. Multiple voting was that subject in the book but electoral reform is electoral reform after all.

I think it was in "Slide Rule" that Nevil Shute, almost apoligetically, says someone has to make a guess at the future from time to time. It causes something to work toward. Mr. Norway doesn't claim to be able to predict the future but always encourages us to work toward improving our lot in life on the societal level...ordinary people doing ordinary things.

In the following Saturday's paper (July 10, 2010) I read a quote from our Queen, heading: "Mutual Admiration Society".

"During my lifetime, I have been a witness to this country for more than half it's history since Confederation. I have watched with enormous admiration how Canada has grown and matured while remaining true to it's history, it's distinctive character and it's values." Queen Elizabeth II

What's not to like ? I understand she said some great things at the UN in New York City too. I'll bet Mr. Norway was especially impressed with Princess Elizabeth learning to drive and repair heavy transport during the war when she was 18.

Nevil Shute wrote "In the Wet" around 1953. As far as I can tell I'm reading of events predicted for 1982, 29 years later. Charles and Anne are mentioned (they were born already), Prince Charles and his wife, it turned out to be Diana, have three children in the book, so he missed that by one. It doesn't look like Mr. Norway missed the mark by very much.

From Jim Wells

You might find this interesting, 2 recent letters from readers, in the Sydney Morning Herald:

On the subject of handouts, professionalism and recession, readers of Andrew Sweeney's letter might also be interested to read Nevil Shute's autobiography, Slide Rule. During the 1930s depression, rather than downing tools "because there was no money to pay for work that might be done tomorrow", Shute continued to work as a designer at an aircraft manufacturing company for next to no wages so that the company might not founder and other employees might keep their jobs.

At one stage the balance sheet was so overstretched that Shute and another principal in the company released encouraging statements suggesting a financial picture somewhat rosier than would have been obvious using the accounting practices regarded as orthodox at the time.

It looks as though some things change and some don't.

Robin McConville Sandringham

Sydney Morning Herald, Friday 30 July 2010

The proof of the plodding

Nevil Shute (Letters, July 30) also had strong and perhaps timeless views on politicians and civil servants. He worked with private enterprise on construction of the successful British airship R100. Its sister ship, the R101, was built by the government, and crashed on its maiden voyage. In assessing the reasons for this in his autobiography, Slide Rule, Shute concluded: "A politician or a civil servant is still to me an arrogant fool till he is proved otherwise."
William Lloyd Denistone

Sydney Morning Herald, Saturday 31 July 2010

From The Editor

I'm sorry, that the newsletter was late this month. I've been having some problems with my computer. As they say: "The question is not if a hard disk will fail, but when it will fail." Shows you how important it is to always have a recent backup. Fortunately I'm an Apple user, and Apple computers come standard with a very good backup program, called Time Machine. If you're an Apple user, check this out. If you're on the non standard system, as somebody lovingly called Windows, during our York meeting of last year, I'm sure there are good backup programs for that too.

From a rather cold Holland, see you all next month.