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The clubs wanted Tiger Moths too, but most of them had to wait until 1937, such was the rush of service and export orders. One exception was Sir Alan Cobbam's National Aviation Days air circus. In 1926, Cobham had flown to Australia and back in a D.H. 50 floatplane, landing on the River Thames alongside the Houses of Parliament to receive his hardearned knighthood. (He was also the D.H. 53 pilot who was overtaken by the train.) De Havilland saw that he got two Tiger Moths for his circus fleet, modified, like several of the RAF's machines, so the engine would run throughout inverted aerobatics. One of Cobham's circus pilots, C. Turner-Hughes, kept records of his days with the show, and recorded 788 hours on the Tiger Moths, including 2,328 loops, 2,190 rolls, 567 bunts (forward loops), 522 upward rolls, 40 inverted falling leaves, and 5 inverted loops. He survives to this day, hale and hearty, proof that aerobatics are good for you. His successor, Geoffrey Tyson, flew inverted all the way across the English Channel on the twenty-fifth anniversary of Bl6riot's first crossing, and became the hero of the hour. Like Turner-Hughes, he went on to become a test pilot, never losing his aerobatic skill, as those who watched his eerie demonstrations in the huge 140-ton Princess flying boats at Farnborough during the fifties will well remember.

The Tiger Moth had entered what might be called its Middle Period, the era of its mass production. Almost nine thousand were built in all, and from the mid-thirties till long after the end of the war there can hardly have been a British or Commonwealth pilot, military or civil, who was not trained, at least in part, on the type. The peaceful Tiger even came close to going to war, when plans were made to fit it with small bomb racks, and when a small unit of them sought German submarines around the Scottish Islands, its pilots mercilessly frozen by sea spray and tormented by droppings from the carrier-pigeon communications system in the front cockpit. (One Tiger did, in fact, find a submarine and manage with Very lights to summon Royal Navy units which sank it.)



The clubs, the very British flying clubs, were revived soon after the war and equipped with Tiger Moths. In its old age the Tiger turned adventurous once more and inspired its own club, the Tiger Club, sponsored by a wealthy paper manufacturer named Norman Jones, who raced in Tigers whenever possible and revived Cobham's old air circus idea with tremendous success. The Tiger Club also developed the Super Tiger, a much modified lightweight aerobatic special with a more powerful brand of Gipsy engine, smoke systems, inverted fuel supply, and fuel tank moved from midwing to where the front cockpit had been. But the Tiger's flatbottomed airfoil was against it. The Super Tiger was unhappy on its back, and no match in contests for the continental aces in their Stampes and Jungmeisters. The first Super Tiger was named the Bishop, for that was the name of the club's instructor; the next two the Deacon and the Archbishop. Fervently one hoped for a fourth to be called the Actress, for obvious if disreputable reasons, but it never happened. But on the fiftieth anniversary of M. Bl&iot's journey, one of the club's aces did once more fly the Bishop across the Channel inverted (only to kill himself practicing inverted flight a year or two later). Generally, however, the old Tiger is a good choice of mount if you're going to have a prang, as the Tiger Club more than once found out. They've pranged a few, often to the rich emotional satisfaction of an interested crowd at an air show. But usually with less tragic results. The Sutton harness holds you firm in your seat, and there's a deal of matchwood to be made of the structure before the solid earth can smite you. In one London newspaper's files there is an insane photograph of Lewis Benjamin in a Deacon, absolutely vertical, a foot above the grass, after an unwonted spin. His pride was hurt and so was his nose, but that was all. The Deacon was indisposed for longer.

The Super Tiger is draftier than ever, and even more helpless than a standard Moth when taxiing on a windy day. But she does do the most beautiful hammerhead stalls of any type of airplane in the world, and is also an excellent glider tug. But the ailerons are still, after thirty-five years, dreadful; no other word is appropriate to describe them.

Maybe five hundred Moths of all sorts still fly, mostly in England and Commonwealth countries. De Havilland's name was buried with some haste by the Midland combine that took over his company and would have you talk of the Hawker Siddeley Tiger Moth (though no one does). The Tiger Moth has lately gained an FAA-type certificate, and several are proudly flown by collectors on a standard certificate of airworthiness, while the handful of Cirrus and Gipsy Moths qualify as antiques. Most of the Tiger Moths flying in the U.S. or Canada are the Canadian-built variant with a canopy, brakes, and a tailwheel, for you cannot just get out and push and heave away throughout the North American winter without real suffering. Whatever the type of Moth, if you get the chance to ride in one, take it. This was the machine that taught Winston Churchill's famous Few to fly, not to mention the hordes that came after them. A great airplane. So, after the honeymoon, de Havilland started on airplane No. 2. This time it flew properly and caught the attention of the British government, which bought it for £400 and hired de Havilland as an aircraft designer to work at the Royal Aircraft Factory. Just like that, for the Great War was coming on and aircraft designers were scarce. Aircraft designers who had built airplanes that actually flew were very scarce indeed.

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