My three long runs.
suitable landing places in the country I am crossing: nothing but bare, jagged, forbidding mountains, deeply worrying for an aviator. As I
have been in the air since 4 o' clock in the morning, I feel weary and depressed. But the imminent danger helps overcome my
Suddenly, I am caught in an appalling gust [une bourrasque épouvantable]. Large spots of rain strike my face and cause me acute pain: it feels as if grains of salt are being thrown against my face. Some enormous air currents strike me. My monoplane rolls and pitches madly. I feel as if I am being sucked about [aspiré], sometimes up, sometimes down. A heavy shower prevents me from seeing anything around me. The situation cannot continue. I must lose my altitude of 1,500 metres and get back near the ground so I can find my railway line. At the moment I am preparing to descend, I am irresistibly dragged down by a column of descending air, to 100 or 150 metres above the earth! I see, closer than I would have desired, the mountain crevasses and boulders covered with moss, looking like ruined castles. I do not advise any tourist to sample the charms of the Cheviot's Hills by aeroplane.
I continue through this storm, across cols, gorges and rivers, changing my course at the least sign, stubbornly flying at a height that is manifestly inadequate. But I have no desire to get lost! Better to struggle with the unchained elements than to be lost. This mode of progress, although dangerous, allows me to retain a precise idea of my direction at all times. And within me, the certainty of keeping the right course steadies my courage and provides some calmness of spirit; repels, in a word, that failure of morale, which is much more terrible than the wind.
My struggle is almost over. I make out a dark mass on the horizon: it is the rock of Edinburgh. The aerodrome cannot be far: but how to get there? I am on the final straight, as I wished to be a long time ago. I see a large petrol fire, lit by the local committee. I alight on the surface through beating rain and some unpleasant eddies. It is 11 h. 18'. Védrines is waiting for me yet again, with a lead of seventeen minutes.
The single tent on the airfield shelters the machine that arrived before mine. Without delay, they set about erecting a second. Why had they put up only one tent? Did the officials not believe in the possibility of two machines being present at once? My bird put in the dry, I get myself taken to Edinburgh, to the Caledonian Hotel. Bath, lunch and a rest in bed. Towards 5 o' clock in the evening, the tireless Robert Gering of Le Matin comes to see me. I receive him in a position familiar to all aviators: between the hands of a masseur!
The rules of the race condemn me to rest until 9 o' clock that evening. As there is no need to consider flying, now, tonight, I decide to borrow some hours' resting time from the third stage and to leave the following morning as early as possible. I have a feeling this third stage will be decisive. On the 25th, at half past one in the morning, my chief mechanic appears in my room. Not to wake me - I have not slept - but to inform me that everything is in order. An automobile is waiting for me, from yesterday evening, at the door of the hotel. We climb in and return to the aerodrome through a fine drizzle. The weather is perfectly foul [franchmen detestable]; masses of large clouds block out the horizon; the wind bends the branches of the trees with a mournful noise; and the rain never stops. Yet, it is into that that I must go. Védrines has outpaced me through calm weather and I have only one way to beat him in my turn: I will fly in the midst of the rain, the wind and the fog.
Thus, I do not hesitate, and, at 3 h. 10', I fly off through a menacing sky towards Stirling, watched by several hundred spectators, who have spent the night - what a night! - on the airfield.