Walter in Portland  
  Walter & Passengers, Portland, OR
Aug. 18, 1920


As airplanes become more and more common, the question of landing fields will be settled to a certain extent. At the present time, when there are only a few machines in the country, it is a problem that every person who has the future of their town or county at heart, should stop and consider.
     It may be true that the few machines that now land near your town are only passersby, landing for a fresh supply of gasoline, perhaps to stay a few days and carry a few passengers, or to give a little exhibition for the local fair. But each and every one of those need a place to land and to take off again, without endangering passengers or the machine.
     These small passenger machines are the forerunners of the larger machines that there isn't a question of a doubt will be flying all over the country within a few years. These machines will carry mail, passenger, express and eventually freight. They will need a place to land just the same as the smaller machines, just the same as the wagons needed trails, as the automobiles need good roads, as the railroads need right of ways, so will the airplane need its landing field.
     For the benefit of those who don't know what kind of a field is required for a landing field, I am going to describe several fields that can be used, also the ideal field. So many times we have people write in and ask us to have a plane sent to their town for a fair or celebration, but they cannot tell us if there are any good landing fields near enough to be used. We have had certain fields picked out for us that were down in a small valley, and usually the baseball parks are picked out. This isn't the fault of the local man who picks out the field, but it is simply that he does not understand an airplane and the kind of a landing place it is necessary to have.
     The ideal field is a hard surfaced ground such as an alfalfa field, or a fall plowed stubble field with very few dead or back furrows, as these tend to throw the machine out of balance in landing and taking off. The field should be at least 1500 feet in length, a square field if possible, but and "L" shaped field will do, about five hundred feet wide. The L field will let the machine land and take off in four directions, as it is quite necessary to land and take off into the wind. The field should be on the highest point of land, never down in a narrow valley as the average machine will only climb about two hundred feet a minute and one can readily see how hard it would be to climb out of a narrow valley.
     Fields that can be used for the present day machines can be 1000 feet long providing there aren't any obstructions on either end such as trees or wires. If the prevailing wind is the lengthwise of the field, it can be as narrow as three hundred feet, but a pilot is taking a chance when it is too narrow. It is hard to take off and land with the wind crosswise to the field, owing to the wind striking the machine at the wrong angle. Once in the air, the machine will fly no matter where the wind is from, but it bothers in taking off and landing.
     The altitude of the country makes a difference, as the average machine of today such as are used around the northwest, find it a little hard to take off from fields where the altitude is above 3000 feet. The machines will get off all right, but require a longer runway on account of the lightness of the air.
     Just a plea to the rancher who has nice big fields where planes might want to land. Please have a thought for the aeroplane man when you are making back and dead sfurrows and smooth them out whenever possible. It may be that some day a plane in trouble may want to make a landing and has to do it in a hurry. A field without a ditch will be a salvation to the pilot and his machine.
     All pilots are cautioned about landing in growing grain, though sometimes it is very necessary, and the writer has found that a plane can be landed in growing grain until it is about ten inches high without damaging it, providing the ground is hard. The trouble comes when a plane lands and people rush through the grain to see why he landed.
     Inasmuch as our company has sold many planes to ranchers who use the ships on their ranches. This article may be of interest to anyone who is thinking of buying an aeroplane and doesn't know if he can use it on his ranch.
From Walter's Journal
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