Gardiner flew for a total of 57 hours, averaging a speed of 80 mph, and made 61 stops along the way. His only navigational aid was a compass on the cockpit floor. On arrival he donated the plane to the Museum.
The F.E.8 was a unique British fighter built by the Royal Aircraft Factory in the early stages of World War I. A rear-mounted engine was used to prevent the bullets from a forward-firing machine gun from hitting the propeller- a serious problem until the perfection of the gun synchronizer. Once the gun synchronizer came into use, the F.E.8 was retired from service and destroyed by the British Government after the war. The F.E.8 was the first single-seat fighter to be designed at the Royal Aircraft Factory in England, and the last pusher single-seat fighter to see service in World War I.
This F.E.8 was built from original factory plans. Construction required 1,000 man-hours over a period of 32 months.
Specifications: Span 31 ft. 6 in.; length 23 ft. 8 in.; takeoff weight 1485 lbs. Engine: 100 horsepower Gnome Monosoupape nine-cylinder rotary air-cooled (original); 145 horsepower Continental air-cooled flat six (representation); cruising speed 80 mph. Armament: one Lewis .303 caliber machine gun.
Accession no. 1980G19