Page 27 - The Remains of the Original HD-4
ISSUE : Issue 21
Published by Ronald Caplan on 1978/12/1
Dr. Melville Grosvenor, Beinn Bhreagh: When I rode on her, it was the summer of 1920. I was up here on vacation from the naval academy and I was 20 that summer. But I saw her develop from the beginning • all the little models. She was number 4. There were 3 other hydrodromes before her. And before that there was "Dhonnas Beag" and "Jumping Jack." "Jumping Jack" • they would jump out of the water, the models, jump and dive, jump and dive • but he wasn't able to get it so it was steady. That was where he developed the reefing, which means he put the ladderlike foils on an angle, so there would be continuous lift. Before that, it'd be like steps in a ladder and as soon as one foil came out (of the water) she'd either jump or dive. But when he had it reefed, as they called it, tilted, there was never a break in the lift of these foils. You'll see in the pictures how they are tilted so that these foils or planes always overlapped (some portion of a plane was always in the wa? ter) and that got rid of the jumping jack effect. You see, the HD-4 didn't come just overnight. They had years of towing exper? iments. Then all the knowledge gained, Casey and he put it into the HD-4 • and that was a success from the beginning. Believe it or not, Grampy could not be in? veigled to ride on his HD-4, not for any? thing. He wouldn't think of riding on it. I thought he was a great sissy because he wouldn't ride in it. I was disappointed in my grandfather. Until, just recently. I'm now a year older than he was when he died • and I can well understand why he wouldn't want to get out there and hang onto those struts and be thrown around. He couldn't do it, physically. My grandmother was 10 years younger. She tried to get him to ride it. But he wouldn't do it. But my grandmother did. She went for a ride with Casey Baldwin and came back to the dock, and the pictures tell the story right in the museum. There's one of him standing on the end of the dock with papers in his hand, his cap on, hunched down, watching the HD-4 out on the lake. Well, my grand? mother was steering it at that time and he knew that and he was worried sick. Then she came around and Casey took over and she landed at the dock. And he came to her and he embraced her. He thought she'd, been to the moon or something. And there's~a picture of that. She wrote him this letter, from the Home Notes, 1919, Armistice Day: "We. roared out on the lake past Baddeck in a great circle, around Bone Island and Spectacle Island." Now, that's a very narrow passage between Bone Island and the shore • and I couldn't believe that they went through there but that's where they went, right around Spec? tacle Island • then out into the lake. "She rose so slowly that I had no sensation of rising. She went steady as a rock and kept on an even keel. She is so stiff and sol? id • impossible to feel the least tiny sen? sation of fear. When the engines were slowed, there was no jerkiness or feeling of coming down hard. From Spectacle Island I steered the boat almost to the wharf. The really remarkable thing to me was the feeling of perfect confidence she inspired. MGB" (Mabel) That was 1919, really the first summer they were testing it. She was trying to build up his confidence, but she couldn't do it. I went out the next year. And to? day, I can see why he'd be cautious. I'm 76 today and he was about 73 then. (But do you think if the HD-4 were put on the wa? ter today, do you think you'd go for a ride?) Hell, yes. Greatest thrill I ever had. So level. We went out toward Specta? cle Island, went out in the lake • then they started making these sharp turns to see what she'd do. Would she keel over or skid or anything • and she was steady as a rock. She did heel just the slightest bit, but the centrifugal force was terrific • you'd have to hold on because she'd make a tight turn. Then there was quite a sea running out here • south wind • you wouldn't feel it at all, maybe a little vibration. (And noise?) Oh, terrific roar. Two big Liberty engines up in the air, right at my ear. It was absolutely thrilling, going express train speed • because 70 m.p.h. is damned fast when you're on the land in a vehicle--but we were exposed to the wind and everything. That same time, the navy sent up a four- man team made up of a rear admiral, and a captain and two commanders, to inspect and test this HD-4 as a possible submarine Cape Breton's Magazine/27
Cape Breton's Magazine