My three long runs.
moves on to talk to me of the article which I wrote for this morning's edition of the London Daily Mail (20th July) (1)
Footnote(1) How I feel in air race [sic]. M. William, editor of the Daily Mail, has translated my text into English with a literary elegance for which I thank him.
I leave London the next day, the 21st, to establish myself at Weybridge, about 2 kilometres from the track at Brooklands - the take-off point for the aviators. Someone tells me the curious origin of the aerodrome. A lord with a passion for fast automobiles found himself reduced to a speed of 10 or 12 miles per hour by the law. He therefore resolved to have a motor track for himself alone, and created, on an immense estate, a concrete race track four miles in circumference. He had to carve through a small hill, cut through a forest, and pay out one to two millions. But what did it matter when he was throwing his motors round at 150 kilometres per hour! In the course of time a club bought the track from him, to race cars and bicycles. Now in recent times, the centre of the track has been transformed into an aerodrome for the use of Londoners. The siting does not strike me as exactly perfect: 32 kilometres separate it from London; a river runs through it; and its magnificent trees make a belt round it as dangerous as it is picturesque.
I see an embryonic flying school there, with permanent hangars made of wood. Temporary hangars have also been erected here and there, made from canvas: one has been reserved for me. It is there that I find my monoplane: 50 horse power with a standard propeller. The representative from Shell petrol accompanies me. We make our way with difficulty through the crowd of people and motors, because today they are competing for the Prince Henry cup for automobiles - automobiles which shoot past at immense speed! At last I make contact, near my hangar, with the mechanics who will follow me on the Circuit.
The heat is suffocating. There has been no wind the past three days.
While waiting for the machine to be made ready, I lie down on the ground in the hangar. An English portraitist comes towards me and asks if I would like to pose for ten minutes to complete the collection of aviators' portraits appearing in the Daily Mail. Although tired, I agree, and sit myself down near to the tent. While he sketches me, the artist - who is talented besides - reminds me (him too) of my article in the Daily Mail. He perceived from it, to my deep astonishment, that I have “the soul of a poet and of a dreamer!”
After having lunched at the aviators' hotel, the pleasant Heath Club, with some English friends, I return to the airfield through the oppressive heat. As the thermometer rises, my courage sinks. Fortunately, I am only a spectator, for the moment.
Indeed, here are the officials who will imprint my machine with the permanent marks. They choose the two wings, a longeron in the fuselage, the tailplane, and the rudder. They pass a steel wire through the wings and put in place a seal, which they emboss with a special mark: a circle painted red surrounding the pierced point [Ils passent un fil de fer dans les ailes et mettent un plomb, qu'ils écrassent avec un cachet spécial: un cercle à la peinture rouge entoure le point troué].
The marking of the motor is effected by means of a little portable electric drill, which is used to engrave two letters on: 1st two cylinders; 2nd the forward tank; 3rd the crankcase; 4th the rear end of the transmission shaft [la partie arrière de l'arbre] - making five parts in all. The various items are recorded in an official logbook, which