During the years 1935-1939 Luton
Aircraft, UK designed and built no less than 5 types of aircraft. Having
developed from the Dunstable Sailplane Company, it was perhaps inevitible
that the first Luton should have been evolved from the high efficiency
The Luton Minor, which flew in 1936 was
an immediate success, and during the next 2 or 3 years examples were built
by amateurs all over the world. In one instance an enthusiast taught
himself to fly with a Luton Minor of his own construction - a procedure of
course both illegal and certainly not recommended !
The design of the Luton Minor was
brought up to date by Phoenix Aircraft Ltd., successors to Luton Aircraft
Ltd. In 1959-60 the Minor was accredited as one of the finest single
seater amateur aircraft in Europe, and the easiest to build.
The successful advent of the pre-war
Minor led to the demand for a two seater having similar flying and safety
characteristics : thus the Luton Major was produced to fulfill the
requirements of private owners, flying Clubs and the Civil Air Guard.
Following the resurgence of the Minor,
Phoenix Aircraft Ltd. undertook the revision of the Major drawings for
amateur construction. Incidentally, the Luton Minor was the first Ultra
Light aircraft to receive full approval by the then Director General of
Civil Aviation in Australia.
The Luton Major was the only British
designed two seater aircraft available to amateurs for home building. It
was originally designed by Mr. C. H. Latimer-Needham to Air Ministry
requirements. However the aircraft has since been re-stressed to to permit
engine power to 85 hp and gross weight to 1400 lbs.
The flight characteristics, covered in
the test pilot's report, may perhaps be summed up by the account given in
a magazine of the time, after a trial by their pilot :
"The maker's object in providing good
flying characteristics, rather than sheer performance, has certainly been
achieved. The behaviour at the stall is completely without vice and unless
the machine is pulled up sharply from a reasonable speed, it is not
possible to stall it fully.
At an indicated airspeed between 35-39
knots there is still some lateral control and there is absolutely no
tendency for a wing drop. The machine simply sits squarely in the sky and
does not even drop it's nose to any marked extent. The takeoff is
remarkably good and, remembering the good stalling characteristics, the
machine can be made to fly just as soon as the elevators can be used to
force it into the air.
The all round view is good, there is
plenty of head room, the slotted ailerons are differentially operated and
consequently very little rudder correction is necessary, even when using
full lateral control. With ample rudder area a slide slip can be held
quite steeply at a reasonably slow speed.
In another test, the Major
was flown throttled right back at about 35 knots hand