Flight Of Fancy

Back in the day when I played in a band, the various members had some rather interesting hobbies: Drummer Knob collected sports cars (and still does), Guitarists Kevin and Donald collected venomous snakes (the idiots), Keyboards Player Mike had his private pilot license (PPL), Guitarist Marty had his chopper pilot’s license, while Bassist Kim… well, I did a lot of testing of the effects of alcohol on the human body. (The band was my hobby.)

Anyway, Mike also had a two-seater ultralight aircraft, and I went up with him on several occasions. It was great fun, and it looked something like this: essentially, a wing with a”pusher” (rear-facing) motorcycle engine attached.

While I was looking at pics of old planes last week (for the RAF’s centenary), I happened upon something which made me stop and think: “I’d love to have one of those and fly it around.”

This is the Airco DH.2, designed by Geoffrey De Havilland himself (PBUH), and while it’s a little more aircraft than an ultralight (with two wings and a substantial tail assembly), the principle is the same: a “pusher” engine mounted behind the pilot.

I’d just use a modern engine (Honda Gold Wing?) in place of the old underpowered 100 hp Gnôme Monosoupape rotary engine, which had a rather disturbing tendency to lose its cylinders in flight. (And yes, I’d very much like to keep the Lewis machine gun too, thankyouverramush.)

I know the DH.2 is only a single-seater, but then if I wanted to go the extra step and carry a passenger as well, there’s always the Royal Aircraft Factory’s F.E.2b:

…also with the machine gun, of course.

I’m too old for this stuff now, more’s the pity; but let me tell you, given half the chance, I’d do it in a heartbeat anyway — in either aircraft, even without the guns.


  1. Ah, old aircraft. Harkening back to the days when pilots walked bowlegged due to the size of their tackle.

  2. They are neat looking planes.

    Have you ever seen the movie “Secondhand Lions”? Highly recommended. There’s an old plane in it; its role, while limited, is important, but the movie as a whole is just wonderful.

  3. I’ll admit that I’d like to own a replica First World War aircraft. Most likely something like a Bristol Fighter or a Fokker D.VII, but that era. Or maybe the 1920s…when the planes were better-mannered.

    There’s an elemental simplicity to those airplanes that anything outside of general aviation lacks these days.

    1. Your point is quite valid. Keyboards Player Mike said that the most fun he’d ever had flying was in the venerable Tiger Moth.

  4. “Guitarists Kevin and Donald collected venomous snakes (the idiots)”

    That’s what makes evolution a WORKING theory….

  5. Interesting comparison here—


    My grandfather was a flight instructor during the Great War in France. His son (my uncle) tells me his father flew Spads, and that that is all he remembers. It seems my grandfather did not fly in combat, but I have had little success in finding more info. I do have a copy of his discharge from the U.S. Army as a 2Lt. in the Air Service, at Camp Dix, 23 Feb. 1919. I was discharged from Ft. Dix Feb 16, 1977.

  6. Speaking of old Allies… I wonder if Rodger Schlong ever got his B52 off the ground. Fwance seriously needs to be re-conquered again. He was going to nuke NYC and Washington if I recall correctly.

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