The World Airspeed Record attempt by Flt Lt George Stainforth
Thereafter up to the end of September, bad weather, the changing of engines and difficulties in completing absolutely successful engine tests for the higher power at Derby [the Rolls Royce factory] prevented any flying except a propeller test with a standard engine, which ended in S1596 turning over at low speed after landing. Stainforth had been wearing big shoes and his right heel had jammed between the rudder bar and the foot rest when applying full control to stop a swing on the valve. He was unhurt except for a small cut on the nose, and the machine, after floating for some time, sank, but was brought up again next day by divers from Portsmouth.
This accident did not hold up the final attempt as S1595, an identical machine, was available to take the higher powered engine and propeller re-twisted to suit it, but it was a difficult time because the spur of preparing for a fixed date had gone and the promised land of leave for serving personnel and of paying production work for the firms was well in sight.
On 29th September all was ready for the first flight with the 2,600hp Rolls-Royce and in case all was well we had the official observers down and the timekeepers at their posts. Everything went better even than we had hoped. Stainforth after doing a short level run to see all was as it should be went straight away for the record. This time George might have been his automatic namesake. He made no mistake in his approaches and hit off the mark boats dead every time. There is no doubt that our marvellous machine and wonderful engine could have done no better than his average of 407.5mph [655.67 km/h], and it seems unlikely any better speed will be put up for some time.
This was the end of a party that on the whole was very good indeed and by the end of the week the High Speed Flight had closed down at Calshot. All high speed machines [including the Gloster VIs still used for training] went back to the works, hack machines to Felixstowe and the personnel on leave. These notes were started then and by the middle of the following week they had to be finished and so I beg to be forgiven for their extreme sketchiness.
There has been no time even if I had the power to do it properly to describe the splendid work of our individual inspectors, engineers and mechanics, the cheery co-operation and skill of the firms’ experts attached to us or the great help of officials directly and indirectly concerned with us. I have not attempted to describe the details of construction of the machines and engines but have written simply from the point of view of a pilot of the Flight. It only remains, therefore, for me to express our deep gratitude to Lady Houston for providing the means and the powers that be for permitting us personally to carry out such absorbing and thrilling work.