The Journal of the Friends of Sywell Aerodrome

No. 15 Summer 2008

Hunting and Flying

Written by H. Deterding (a former Director of Sywell Aerodrome) for The Sywell Windstocking published in December 1931.

"Fly? Good heavens! That's about the last thing I should ever want to do. It's not safe and never will be, and besides, I have no desire whatever to fly. It doesn't appeal to me at all."

Henry Deterding
Henry Deterding (third left) in Budapest in 1935.

How many people say this today or words to that effect? I remember saying the same thing myself not more than two years ago. Nothing, then, I felt sure would persuade me to go up in an aeroplane, and now I find myself owning a machine of my own. It is incredible!

But there is no doubt that there is a peculiar fascination about flying which is impossible to describe. Once you start, you must go on. It is certain that many more people would be flying their own machine today if only they could be persuaded to start. What often prevents them, I'm sure, is the idea that it is not safe. I can assure you, though I admit I once thought the same, that this is quite wrong. It is safe and the more you fly the more convinced you become of its safety. By comparison, a motor car is a death-trap and riding a horse across country is merely asking for trouble.

Of course, another factor that stops many a would-be aviator is the question of expense. It usually costs about £30* to become a fully qualified pilot and the cost of keeping one's own machine is about the same as the average sized car. Now, it has struck me as peculiar that, though Sywell is practically in the middle of one of the best bits of hunting country in England, so very few people that follow hounds are interested in aviation. It can't be the expense that stops them, since, they can afford to hunt, they can also afford to fly. I think it must be mainly because they really have never thought about it; it doesn't appeal to them. I can assure them they don't know what they are missing, there is something similar between a gallop across country on a good horse and flying a machine through the air.

The experts say that a good horseman makes a good pilot and certainly flying is mere child's play compared with the art of equitation. The average man or woman is usually fit to take up a machine alone after about 10 hours instruction, and in a year can become a good experienced pilot. Whoever heard of anyone becoming a good horseman in a year or even two? I agree that foxhunting is the finest of all sports, but aviation runs it a close second and makes a worthy substitute during the summer months. I therefore appeal to all hunting folk to give flying a trial and they will find, much as they may disbelieve me now, that I am right. It is a great sport.

Pytchley Hounds at Sywell
A meeting of the Pytchley Hounds at Sywell Aerodrome in the 1930s in front of
two dehavilland Tiger Moths (Picture courtesy Northamptonshire Newpapers).

* It does now cost just a little more - Ed.

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