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Aircraft Traffic Rules 1927

Posted March 2, 2014 by admin with No Comments in 1920's


LIKE THE RULES FOR AUTO DRIVERS are the traffic rules for aircraft just issued for the first time by the Aeronautics Branch of the U. S. Department of Commerce, reports H. C. Davis in The Popular Science Monthly (New York). Reading them, he says, it is easy to imagine the day when the air will be thick with airplanes, and traffic officers may direct the streams of flyers from captive balloons. Now right of way and license numbers belong as much to the air as to the motor road, as set forth in the Government’s new rules. He goes on:

“First rule of all, you must have a pilot’s license—without this you can not take the air, unless you would risk a $500 fine. There may be as yet no ‘motor cops’ of the air to blow a whistle and shout, ‘Pull over to that hill —let’s see your license!’ but it is well to carry on your person the certificate that proves you have passed an official pilot’s examination.

“A simple test is all that is required for a ‘private pilot’s’ license—one who flies for pleasure, not for pay. In figure 8’s, you circle two pylons and make several landings. Then a written examination proves you know how an airplane engine works; that a plane in distress at night fires a succession of Very lights; that a seaplane alighted in a fog must use a fog-horn. Your test is less severe than that for ‘industrial pilots,’ who carry commodities, or for ‘ transport pilots,’ who carry paid passengers.

“Now you may fly, but take care that you observe the ‘rules of the road.’ See that plane about to cross your path, just emerged from the white cloud bank on your right? You must wait to let him by; he has the right of way. A moment, and he is past; the ‘road’ is clear. There is no speed limit. Without warning, a plane thunders straight toward you out of the mist ahead. Coolly you swerve to the right, and pass him.

“Now you are overtaking another craft—the letters on his tail are easily visible. Pull over your rudder, sharply!—for you must give him plenty of room as you pass on his right—at least 300 feet, the regulation is. He might strike a treacherous air current and be hurled against you if you were near him. Throttle wide open, you go by.

“You decide to alter your course. You turn to the left, dive through a cloud, and swoop down to a lower level. There, almost beneath you, is a field black with people and lined with parked cars. Don’t go below a thousand feet; that’s the safety limit for an open-air crowd. A balloon ascension is in progress; the balloonist has just left the ground, and is wobbling skyward in his spherical ship. Turn out as you approach him; the right of way is his,

“A graceful landing ends your day’s flight. Home again, there is one thing more you must do. In a log that you keep for the purpose, make a brief record of your flight. Every three months you will send a duplicate of this log to the Secretary of Commerce at Washington. It must contain, also, notes of any repairs you have made on your plane, of the engine’s running time, and of the result of the inspection you are required to make before each flight. Thus the Secretary has at hand the condition of every licensed plane in the country.

“Like an automobile, every plane must now be registered and carry a license number. Huge figures painted on the wings and rudder serve as license plates, and are visible from above or below and from either side. A letter prefix signifies the airplane’s class. ‘P’ indicates a private craft, flown for pleasure; ‘C’ designates a commercial plane, while aircraft owned by States or cities are marked with an ‘S.’ U. S. Government planes carry special letters, according to their department.

“So an air pilot nowadays may lose his license because some one ‘took his number.’ If he violates any of the air traffic rules, his certificate may be suspended or taken away.”

Source: The Literary Digest for April 2, 1927

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