Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated July 2012

Letters to the Editor

From Chis and Penny Morton

As Tasmania is "on the bottom of the world", it's not too early to start planning your adventure !

What ?TAS 2013, "The Rainbow Connection" (based on 'The Rainbow and the Rose')

Where ? The Old Woolstore Apartment Hotel in Hobart

When ? Sunday 13th to Saturday 19th October, 2013

If you think you'd like to be part of the action, we'd love to know ! To help us with our forward planning, please fill in the questionnaire in next month's newsletter, including any bright ideas you may have, to add to a memorable week. Cheers, Chris and Penny

From David Dawson-Taylor

The English Chapter

The first meeting of "The English Chapter" of the Nevil Shute Foundation will take place on Saturday 6 th October 2012 when we will be discussing Nevil Shute's novel "What happened to the Corbetts".

The location will be Nevil Shute's old home in Southsea, which the owner has kindly allowed us to use for a short period, but numbers are (understandably) limited to 10 - so first come first served !

Anybody who would like to join in is invited to contact me direct.

I'll advise further details nearer the time

Yours Sincerely,

David Dawson-Taylor

UK Librarian and Webmaster, NSN Foundation

From W. Mills Dyer, Jr.

I have a Heron copy of "No Highway" that has an illustration of the Reindeer showing a twin tail like that on the American B-24 or B-25 or the British Lancaster: twin vertical stabilizers at the ends of a single horizontal stabilizer. This is much different from the movie version that shows twin horizontal stabilizers through a central vertical stabilizer (which I've always thought looked rather stupid). It also fits Shute's description of finding the "port tailplane" near Dancing Bear Water. Since twin tails were used on real aircraft, I think this may have been what Shute had in mind.

From Neil Gaunt

Reading Jim Woodward's email, it was the HORIZONTAL stabilizer which failed, and they found one half many miles away after receiving help through a medium and planchette. Every aircraft has two horizontal surfaces.

From Mike Blamey

Editor: Comment to Jim Woodward in last months newsletter

Very interested in your comment(s) about the "O" rings on the Space Shuttle boosters. In fact one of my clients in the 80's was a US firm Polycarbon Inc, Simi Valley, Ca (*) who made the carbon fabric that (layered up to 15 ft high) was then machined by Morton Thiokol to the venturi shape of the nozzles on the boosters. My main contact, Ken Marnock, knew the Thiokol Engineers very well: he spoke of their horror at the incident -particularly as they were "over-ruled". I used to tell my students that if you break man's laws a smart-arsed lawyer can always get you off !But break Nature's Laws and both detection and punishment are immediate, absolute and inevitable.

(*)my work was to assist in increasing the productivity of the process. The scrap rate had been high because the substantial heat involved caused much of the fabric to "buckle" during the carbonising/heating in inert conditions of these viscose based fabrics. We developed a modified fabric made yarns with different properties (twist levels and tenacity) across the warp which counteracted the effect(s) of variations in the heating pattern. Working on the good old Engineers approach - use the problem to make the solution ! I hope Shute would have approved.

Interestingly, the factory where that viscose fabric was made (in Enka NC, USA) had belonged to Courtaulds in 1940 until sold by Churchill to pay for Lease-Lend to what later became ITT Rayon. It was very inefficient but kept going until the 90's by Uncle Sam solely to make these types of fabrics which were, once carbonised, used as ablatives on missiles as they "re-entered" the atmosphere ! Just for the record: the V2 rocket had carbon vanes actually inside the "jet" controlled by radio sensors to keep it on track. Amazing technology for the period 1944 !

From James Fricker

This is very interesting, don't forget to look at the comments at the bottom.

From Andy Banta

If you enjoy reading "Landfall" and particularly "Pastoral" you may find "La's Orchestra Saves the World" by Alexander McCall Smith of interest. While lacking on the military action of the Shute novels, it is a story of an English romance in the same time frame. The story is well written by an author who is better known for "The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency".

From John Anderson


1948 was, it seems, quite a year for British pilots to fly private single engine aircraft to the Far East and beyond.

In March that year Joan Allen, who had served with the Air Transport Auxiliary during the war, took on the job of delivering a 2 seater Fairchild Argus from England to Singapore. She flew solo, without radio, just using a compass and maps for navigation. She deviated from the normal route, crossing the Mediterranean from France to Tunis and across North Africa to Baghdad. After numerous stops, some engine trouble, she arrived in Singapore after a journey of 26 days. Her remarkable flight might have remained unknown had it not been for her daughter discovering her mother's flight log hidden in a metal flight box under the stairs. The story of Joan's flight was recently broadcast by the BBC in an excellent series of 15 minute radio dramatisations entitled Tiger Wings.

In August 1948 Richarda Morrow-Tait set off with her navigator, Michael Townsend, in a Percival Proctor on the first leg of her attempt to be the first woman to pilot an aircraft around the world. They were delayed 7 weeks in Calcutta awaiting a new engine. They arrived in Japan late in the season for crossing to Alaska. A forced landing in snow wrecked the aircraft near Anchorage. She raised enough funds to buy a new aircraft and she flew across the States. Flying via, Greenland and Iceland, she arrived back at Croydon a year and a day after setting out. When she left England she had fewer hours flying than the average club pilot. She published the full story of her flight in a book "Thursday's Child" - the name of her original Proctor, taken from the nursery rhyme - Thursday's Child has far to go.

In September 1948 Nevil Shute and Jimmy Riddell set off in the Proctor Item Willie to fly to Australia. They caught up with Mrs Morrow-Tait and Michael Townsend in Calcutta where Shute extended an invitation to dinner, but they declined, being preoccupied with repairing their plane. 61 days out from England Nevil and Jimmy reached Darwin. Then followed the two month "fly-about" around Australia including the Gulf country. The return flight to England went well as far as Brindisi in Italy where Item Willie ground looped in a strong crosswind and badly damaged the undercarriage. They returned to England by commercial airline, but later Nevil flew out to Brindisi to collect the repaired aircraft and flew her home to Portsmouth solo. Although Nevil kept a log of the flight, the events, characters he met and locations he visited emerged, not in a narrative account, but in two of his best loved books - A Town Like Alice and Round the Bend.


As the holiday season is starting, at least for the northern hemisphere, for those of you that are going away for a holiday, have a great time, and come back save.

See you next month