7 MAY 1927, Page 18


[To the Editor of the SPECTATOR.] SIR,—The following claim is made by your contributor, F. Y.-B.," in his notice of my book, Aeolus ; or the Future of the Flying Machine : " Civilian flying in England has less casualties to record, compared to the number of miles flown and passengers carried, than either railway travel or motoring."

This statement is inaccurate. Or, more nearly, it is, as I shall show, an error multiplied by about one hundred and fifty. It is, in fact, an almost astronomical howler.

In the years 1920 to 1926 British Air Transport machines carried 78,569 passengers and killed 12. In the same period British railways carried about 8,904,002,500 passengers and killed 69 in train accidents. Whereas air transport kills one passenger in about every 6,549, railway transport kills one passenger in about every 129,043,500. If it killed passengers as fast as air transport, railway transport in the single year 1926 would have slaughtered more than 163,300 people !

" F. Y.-B." is one of the friends from whom aeronautics must pray to be saved. He would like aviation to be safe, so he ludicrously exaggerates its safety. With him the wish is father to the fatuity. And the fatuity has appeared in the Spectator more than once. To aviation, which requires no false claims to prop it up, and to those aeronautically unin- formed readers who have believed him, " F. Y.-B." owes an apology.—I am, Sir, &c., 17 Trafalgar Road, Twickenham.


[Our reviewer writes : " I owe no apology, but I think Mr. Stewart does. Imperial Airways have carried 30,090 pas- sengers during the last two years without a single casualty. Can Mr. Stewart tell us what motoring and railway accidents there have been in that time ? "—En. Spectator.]