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George Clout

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George Clout (c1860-1906), early aviator


1904 George Clout's New Airship Described.[1]

We were able, close upon twelve months ego, to publish an interesting description of a model flying machine that represented the fruit of thirteen or fourteen years' study of the problem of aerial navigation by Mr. George Clout, then of Tarring-road, but now of Durrington. Mr. Clout generously allowed our representative to minutely examine his invention, but in his own interests we forbore to enter into an exhaustive description, as negotiations were then pending which Mr. Clout hoped would result in the War Office assuming a beneficial interest in his design. With the customary reticence of the home Government Departments they stood aloof, and as he is not in a position to continue a series of what most necessarily be expensive experiments, Mr. Clout has given us permission to publish the accompanying photograph of his serial machine, with a supplementary explanation.

It will not be out of place here to reproduce a paragraph or two from the former article. Here is what was written a year ago: "It has one feature which is alone sufficient to elicit a close interest in it — this is originality. Although it most necessarily bear a resemblance to other flying machines, an examination reveals the fact that the principle is entirely different from anything yet adopted. Many inventors have been content to study Nature as their model, but have signally failed to reproduce an | airship on the lines of any of Nature's flying creations. This, says Mr. Clout, is a hopeless task, and be has boldly ignored Nature altogether, and found his model is the toy shop, in a device that is familiar to everyone. It may be purchased for a penny, and consists of a tin wing, which, under the momentum given it by forcing it up a spiral wire, takes a flight in the air. It is clearly evident that to long as sufficient momentum remains the wing will continue suspended, and it was with this object lesson before him that Mr. Clout proceeded to construct his model.

This is computed by the inventor to be large enough to lift a man; but it must be explained that the materials need in its construction are not those best adapted for the purpose, and that therefore actual experiment with a human load would be inadvisable. The framework is composed of light steel tubing and wood, and when fully equipped the machine weighs about three hundred and fifty pounds. But by the use of aluminium or some other light metal the weight could probably be reduced by one-half, and also greater rigidity would be imparted to the frame.

It is evident that Mr. Clout does not believe that the secret of aerial navigation is to be found in Nature. That the air will be conquered on wings he has no doubt, but they will be those of the pattern he has adopted, and not modelled on the wings of a bird; and he claims for his design that it will accomplish all that it is necessary for a flying machine to do.

From the photograph it will be seen that above the car are two wings, or aerial planes, measuring thirty feet from tip to tip; and these revolve above tbs operator’s head, and immediately over the Petrol Motor which supplies the motor power. These are designed to lift the car from the ground and sustain it in the air. There are two propellers driven by the same motor, and one of these is attached to each wing, their purpose being to drive the machine in a horizontal direction; but it can be propelled forward independently of these by altering the balance of the car. The angle of the wings can be regulated while flying, at the operator's wish, to meet the atmospherical conditions. Affixed to the rear of the car is a tail for steering the machine in any direction.

By a simple contrivance the frame of the car can be enveloped in descending, thus converting it into a parachute some thirteen feet in diameter, a provision the value of which will, in case of derangement of the mechanism, be immediately recognised.

Mr. Clout is firmly of opinion that it is practicable to construct a vehicle that will convey a man through space; but he is convinced that any endeavour to navigate the air relying upon manual exertion alone will be futile. There must be Mechanical Motive Power, and to be of practical use a flying machine mast hold self-contained the power to lift itself directly upwards; and until this initial difficulty is mastered we are as far off as ever from conquering the air.

During his prolonged experiments Mr. Clout has become acquainted with many and varied designs for airships, but he has seen nothing yet that promises success; and with a quiet confidence in his own invention he is led to put forward its manifest claims, in the hope that it will enable him to continue his investigations into the mysteries of flight.


1906 Obituary.[2]

The Local Inventor of an Air-Ship. The voyage of the steamship Philadelphia from New York to Southampton last week was unfortunately marked by the death, under particularly sad circumstances, of a well known Worthing resident, in the person of Mr. George Clout.

The deceased, who formerly resided at St. Bernard's, Pavilion-road, was forty-six years of age, and was a plasterer by trade, but in his spare moments he devoted considerable thought to the problem of aerial navigation, and as the result of some thirteen or fourteen years' study he invented a fly-machine which attracted a good deal of attention at the time. The idea, however, was not taken up as the inventor had anticipated it would be.

Last November Mr. Clout Proceeded to Canada with his son, who was formerly a prominent member of the local Swimming Club. After spending some time at Montreal the deceased and his son went on to New York, but for some reason or other the climate did not suit him, and at length his health got so bad that be decided to return to England, only to die on the voyage home.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  1. Worthing Gazette - Wednesday 03 August 1904
  2. Worthing Gazette - Wednesday 23 May 1906