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NEARLY 50,000 FEET.
British Officer's Adventure.
LONDON, Sept. 30.
Squadron-Leader P. R. D. Swain, of the Royal Air Force, flew to an altitude of 49,967 feet, or 15,230 metres, on Mon- day,' thus i breaking the world's altitude record of 48,698 feet set up' six' weeks ago by the French aviator, M. Detre.
During his descent Squadron-Leader Swain' felt that he was suffocating, and, with a knife, ripped the celestroid win- dow of his helmet, and breathed fresh air.
"I climbed in a series of wide circles, and, looking down from about 46,000 feet, I saw London like a little toy town, the Thames and other rivers like narrow ribbons, and tho Channel'Isles like small stones In a shallow river-bed," said Squadron-Leader Swain, In
"At that moment I felt very small and lonely. The pressure suit I was wearing caused me slight discomfort. It was difficult to move my arms and legs owing to the pressure, and I had slight cramp in the right arm When the altimeter, which I knew was over-record- ing, reached 51,000 feet I decided to call it a day.
"After descending about 5000 feet the celes- troid window of my helmet and also the cock- pit windows became covered with haze, and I was unable to see anything. This worried me, because I was unable to read the com-
"I continued to descend rather erratically, and then I began to feel that I was suffocat- ing and weakening. I pressed the release lever, which should have opened the cockpit cover,'
but it would not function.
RIPPED HELMET WINDOW.
"I could not lay my (hand on the emer- gency zip fastener with which my suit Is fitted, and I realised that there was only one thing to do," Squadron-Leader Swain pro- ceeded. "I got a knife, ripped the celestroid window of my helmet, tore away the rest of the celestroid, and breathed fresh air. My height was then 14,000 feet, and as I hod only two gallons of petrol, I landed."
Squadron-leader Swain, who is 33 years of age, trained in a chamber where the tem- perature was minus 60 degrees, and the air was rarefied equivalent to that of an alti- tude of 80,000 feet.
The only mascot he carried was a medallion of St. Christopher.
The flight occupied 3 hours 20 minutes, Instead of an hour and 50 minutes, as in- tended.
BRITISH EQUIPMENT USED.
(British Official Wireless.)
The Air Ministry announced that the machine used was a Royal Air Force experi- mental high-altitude aircraft, a Bristol 138, with a special Pegasus engine. ,
This is the fiist occasion on which the Royal Air loree has attempted to beat the altitude recoid. The aircraft, engine, and the special equipment are all of British de- sign and manufacture. '