Nevil Shute Norway Foundation

Newsletter dated October 2012

Letters to the Editor

From Chris & Penny Morton

We've finally got the official TAS 2013 logo designed and it is now on the conference website for all to see, Many thanks to John Anderson, our Tasmania website manager, who has done a great job ! In addition to the essential 'what, when and where' information, he's included a tentative outline of the week's activities; to be expanded/confirmed as plans develop over the coming year.

If you haven't already contacted us and are considering coming to Hobart, please let us know, and we'll add you to our list of potential delegates. It's helpful to have an idea of numbers when planning activities, and we really do want to make the week a truly memorable one for you. Chris now has quite limited vision, so he would appreciate your using 14-16 point BOLD font when e-mailing us.

Don't forget, QANTAS has indicated their willingness to give a break to our incoming international visitors, which might help offset the global financial problem somewhat. We will advise details on that as soon as we have more information.

Hoping to see as many Shute-ists as possible in this lovely "Rainbow" state, down under Down Under. Only a year to go !

From Bill Levy

I don't know how Shute-related these are but I wanted to share them with you.

Case Western Reserve University Offers Online Collection of Air Race and Aviation Films, 1928-1939

Case Western Reserve University has announced a digital collection of National Air Races and aviation films covering 1928-1939. From the announcement: "The National Air Races began in 1920 and by the 1930s had become a major public event comprised of closed-course pylon races, most notably the Thompson Trophy Race, cross-country derbies, and a variety of aviation-related exhibitions, both flight and static. Cleveland first hosted the races in 1929. The city remained the primary locus for the event (with the exception of 1930, 1933, 1936 and the war years, 1940-1945) until 1949." The collection is available here (sorry, really ugly URL). The collection is small (23 items) but the reason I'm covering it here is what it includes. Names you'll recognize here include Charles Lindbergh, but more interesting is the "candid" footage you'll find here. The first film I looked at went from a newsreel about Lindbergh and 1926 aviation disasters to a family snowball fight and then a horse ride from what looks to be the same time period (these were family-donated films and family scenes were digitized right along with the aviation footage.) Other scenes included in the film include factory construction of monoplanes (and women working in airplane construction long before WWII), balloon races from the mid-1930s, and is that the Goodyear Blimp ? The collection is best browsed; the descriptions for each item are minimal and appear to get even more minimal as you go down the list of available films. Each item's page includes citation information but also - very cool - a link to download the video. These are not tiny files - all the ones I looked at were over 600MB - but this could come in useful especially when you're trying to get a better view of an odd vehicle or factory scene that shows up on the screen for only a second or two. A great browse.

From David B. Horvath, CCP

Pilot Plans Sydney-To-London Flight On Fuel Made Of Plastic

Hopes To Set Two Records With The Attempt

Australian pilot Jeremy Rowsell hopes to set off on a record breaking flight from Sydney to London in a single engine aircraft powered 100 per cent by fuel made from plastic waste "an interesting journey that he somewhat immodestly claims "could change the face of the aviation industry." Rowsell will fly a Cessna 182 solo, cruising mainly at 5,000 feet, sometimes in 13 hour stretches, along the same route used by the barnstorming pilots of the 1920s and 1930s.

He will attempt to better two records. First, a record flight time from Sydney to London for the aircraft type and second, to be the first pilot to fly an aircraft using a synthetic fuel derived from end of life plastic waste bio fuel as a single source of power. The project called "On Wings of Waste" came about after he reportedly witnessed first hand from the air, pollution on land and sea, and recognized the significant danger posed by ever increasing plastic waste.

His concern about the environment and 'the consequences of an aviation industry reliant on toxic and damaging fuels' is reportedly what has inspired this effort. "Flying is critical to the economy, vital for saving lives and is the best way to experience the planet we live on. We can't stop flying, but how can we do that and do it sustainably ?" said Rowsell, who was born in London but now lives in Sydney.

"Our world is choking on human, plastic waste. In the middle of the Pacific Ocean is the Great Pacific Garbage Patch a mire of plastic waste spanning millions of square kilometres. If it were a country, it would be one of the biggest on the planet." he added.

The discovery of an Irish company that takes end of life plastic waste, destined for landfill or possibly the ocean, and distills it into liquid fuel, was the catalyst for the project. Although recognized as a technical marvel, the fuel produced by a company called Cynar PLC, has never been tested in the air. "Our objective is to prove that this synthetic fuel made from plastic waste is viable for a number of practical solutions and by doing so replace the need to use fossil fuels from conventional sources. What better way to showcase this then via aviation an industry that is looking to diesel fuel to provide a solution to the problems it faces with current avgas fuels that are costly and environmentally damaging."

"Aviation leads technology in many instances, why not do it once again with this fuel ? If this plan works it would solve some major environmental problems all at once." Rowsell explained.

Step two was to put together a team including international risk and survival specialist Tony Loughran and project manager Tarsha Burn, who is in charge of the strategic and tactical planning, sponsorship and production. The pilot reports that he has been put through 'rigorous tests' (though we're not sure what's so rigorous about flying a Cessna 182--Ed.).

Heavy on hyperbole, Rowsell claims that flight 'will test his physical and mental endurance to the limit.' In 2011 Roswell flew the Pacific to re-trace the epic flight endeavour of Sir Charles Kingsford Smith in a tiny single engine aircraft, to raise money for the Royal Flying Doctor Service, so he is no stranger to perilous aerial adventure.

The plastic fuel has been tested in cars and is being tested to work in diesel powered aeroplanes. The airports where he stops will need to store this fuel to allow for the continuation of the flight. He plans to take off from Sydney later this year to fly more than 10,000 nautical miles and will chase a record time set by the pioneers.

Stopping en route in Darwin, Christmas Island, Sri Lanka, Oman, Jordan and Malta, he is expected to arrive in London after six days of flying.

Rowsell will update his progress through advanced satellite technology, including data communication tools from his aircraft and he claims that the trip will result in a documentary film.

From John Anderson


In Slide Rule Shute quotes from the diary he kept during the R-100 flight to Canada and back. In 1931 he wrote a paper on the Canadian flight of R-100 which was published in the Journal of the Royal Aeronautical Society. I recently obtained a copy of this. I had expected a rather formal, technical description of the flight as would befit such a Journal. Not a bit of it. The paper is entirely his account taken straight from the diary entries. In writing Slide Rule 25 years later he selected his entries. Here are some that he didn't include, some for obvious reasons !:-

[Outward journey]

Colmore, Burney and I have all forgotten our passports ! Thank God I'm in good company.

We passed Chester at 6 a.m., where the railway whistles to us woke me. Steff and I went out on to the balcony in pyjamas and watched as we approached Liverpool. We passed straight over the town at about 6.20, by the unfinished cathedral and the docks. From the air they seem to have built that cathedral in the middle of a slum, on a bit of ground suspiciously like a rubbish tip.

My bunk lacing broke in the night, letting the canvas sag down ; it is laced with a continuous cord, which is silly. We can smell dinner cooking all over the coach, which might be un-pleasant but which I find more tantalising. You get as hungry on an airship as on a ship.

Everybody is sucking sweets in lieu of smoking.

11.0 a.m. zone time (G.M.T.+3).We have passed into another zone and put the clock back another hour; at this rate we shall never get lunch !

4.30 p.m. zone time (G.M.T.+ 4). We have passed into another zone and put the clock back an hour again - after tea !

The washing place and lavatories are smelling very bad. They need fan ventilation and good heating - heating because nothing ever gets dry about the wash basins, and that is rather unpleasant. Some means of emptying the Elsans (chemical toilets) when in flight is necessary as they are getting very full and foul. The whole coach could do with forced ventilation by means of fans that could be used once or twice a day to scour the whole place out, In the promenades the air is good, but in the saloon it is stuffy and tainted with the kitchen and the lavatories. Not sufficient to make it unpleasant to sit there, but still noticeable when you go in.

Everybody in the ship seems to have a camera; I have exposed many films, but conditions are difficult. There are no external views, and inside conditions are only suitable for bulb or time exposures. (I wonder if any of his photos survive ?)

We are still running through fog, which I imagine is typical of the Newfoundland banks. The sun through the mist makes such a bright light that we have had to rig a curtain to protect the rudder helmsman's eyes from the glare, as we had to at sunset last night, and in the control car people tend to wear dark glasses or motor goggles. This very bright light is rather funny when you are in thick cloud and can't see a thing.

[At Montreal] Their aviation is most interesting. I must spend a morning at the airport just taking photos of the machines and gadgets. In many ways they are streets ahead of us. They can hardly sell an aeroplane without an electric inertia starter now; the pilots will not swing props. This costs about $350, so it is an expensive gadget. Wheels are placed very far forward because of the brakes, and tail wheels are universal. Much use is made of landing searchlights. Radial air- cooled engines predominate. They are suffering a bad slump in aircraft manufacture, due to over-production of 4-6seater cabin m/cs. [Good recce for Airspeed project]

[Return flight]

The first wireless message received on this trip ran: "Good-bye Grey Eyes. Joan." It was blushingly claimed by a pressman.

Spent an hour up in the crow's nest, photographing as we passed up the Straits, with Felix Gaye and Moncrieff. We are just passing another iceberg. Our course is 100° true, which means heading for the south of Ireland. [Felix Gaye was one of R 100's engineers and is the man alongside NSN in the cockpit photo]

The cooking range seems to be permanently out of commission for the rest of the trip; the whole of that wall and the kitchen ceiling is soaked with water, that has come down the auto valve trunk. In this respect the pressure cover system of R.101 is an improvement on ours, in that in our system water tends to be sucked in, whereas in theirs it tends to be kept out.

[Writing something complementary about R.101 Not surprised that didn't appear in Slide Rule ! !] Our passengers mostly slept late to-day and the majority have not yet put in an appearance. The sense of adventure is wearing off.

From Linda Schrock Taylor

Hello All,

It was with much pleasure that I introduced my 77 year old neighbour to the works of Nevil Shute. She is just amazed that the stories are so well written and each so unique. She is reading her way through my collection.

It was a very hot summer in eastern Iowa when I found the Shute shelf at the public library. I spent the days in front of a fan (no AC) reading one book a day. That was 30 years ago and still I can fully understand Elaine's enthusiasm for it echoes mine.

From W. Mills Dyer, Jr.

My wife and I are on a 26 day tour of Australia and were in Alice Springs a few days ago. We visited the library where we found the NS Memorial Garden intact and the bookcase inside the front door containing all the NS works. The young librarian was quite pleased to meet another Shutist. I told her about the new autobiography.

From Tony Woodward

Minor comments about the latest NSN newsletter (and light-hearted since I am afraid I have nothing substantive to say):

To Mike Blamey:

I once saw the Brabazon flying over the family home in Cirencester in about 1950. It was the most beautiful aircraft I ever saw. I had to call my dad urgently to ask him what it was. Not sure he got there in time but later on I figured out what it was. That's all I know of it apart from the structural issues which I found out about later. Sadly I never saw the XB-70 Valkyrie. In aircraft design if it looks right it probably is right, and the Brabazon looked right. Anyone want a Polish PZL Mielec M15 Belphegor ? Surely the ugliest aircraft ever built !

To Steve King:

Unfortunately when I tried to access your URL I got

"The smallest V-12 ..."?This video is no longer available because the YouTube account associated with this video has been terminated due to multiple third-party notifications of copyright infringement.

Sigh ! Trustee from the Toolroom is my favourite Shute novel too.

I heard about Richard Bach too. I hope he makes a full recovery.

Editor: I try every link that is mentioned in the newsletter. When I tried it, it still worked.

From Hilary Robinson

I don't know whether you've seen this recording? Some of the old footage is good:

Editor: I knew this recording, in fact I know when it was made. In January 2009, John Anderson, Mike Meehan and I were in Newcastle, to visit Runagate. The next day John and Mike drove me to the airport, and than they drove on to Martin Dryden, to make this recording. Sadly, both Martin and Mike have passed away since than.


A long newsletter this month, I hope that you enjoy it. I'm sorry it is a bit late, but the end of the month always seems to come to quickly.

See you all next month, from Holland, where it is cold and wet.