The Spectator

Iron birds

The Spectator on a suggestion to replace ‘the present clumsy and ugly system’

From ‘News of the Week’, The Spectator, 19 August 1916: The Parliamentary Air Committee having recently inhaled much ozone at giddy heights, during their visits to a R.F.C. park, have breathed some of it forth in a brilliant idea. They propose that the present clumsy and ugly system of designating aircraft by numbers and letters should be replaced by the names of birds. The machines would be grouped in classes, and each class would have a distinctive name. The names of seabirds would be given to seaplanes and the names of land birds to Army aeroplanes. Just as ships of war are grouped in the ‘county’ class, the ‘river’ class, and so on, the aeroplanes would be thrushes, blackbirds, tits, swallows, or sparrows, and the seaplanes redshanks, cormorants, herring-gulls, or guillemots.

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