A Simple Experiment regarding fire in a open cockpit aircraft

One of the questions regarding the Riot and the burning is whether burning materials were thrown from the aircraft. This has nothing with any of the other theories about how the aircraft could have been used.

It occurred to me that this is actually easily testable, and testable without access to fancy equipment. And we performed the experiment today. Feel free to reproduce the results if you want.

The aircraft most likely to have been used during the Invasion the morning of June 1, 1921 was the Curtis Jenny, an open cockpit aircraft. The stall speed of the Jenny is about 45 miles an hour. That means the slowest the plane could travel and not fall out of the air.

IMG_0152We chose to reproduce that speed in the back of a pick up truck driving down a road. We elected to see if we could light a match, a lighter, and if using a lit cigar we could light a fuel soaked rag.

Safety precautions were taken, including a fire extinguisher and a bucket full of water to take the burning rag if necessary.


The lighter. We used a Zippo, which was a more advanced lighter than those available in 1921, but based on similar principles. It would not light at speed.
IMG_0163
The matches. We used a cluster of three wooden strike anywhere matches. They lit perfectly and were immediately extinguished in the wind.


Finally, lighting a fuel soaked rag with a cigar. We could not get it to light.

Analysis is that it is unlikely that burning materials could have been lit and thrown. If somehow lit, they would have been extinguished leaving the plane.

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