In 1866, two decades after the flight of Stringfellow’s monoplane, Mr. F. H. Wenham, another Englishman illustrious in the annals of aëronautics, patented the multiplane; that is, an aëroplane comprising two or more superposed surfaces. This proved to be a valuable contribution to the art of aviation, and continues in use at the present time. The device furnished an increase of sustaining surface without enlargement of the ground plan. It moreover lends itself conveniently to a strong and simple trussing of the surfaces. Some designers protest that superposed surfaces blanket one another; but the advantages just named seem amply to compensate for this objectionable feature. If the surfaces be properly spaced, very little interference is found; moreover, any blanketing that may occur diminishes the drift as well as the lift, though not necessarily in the same proportion.
Wenham’s aëroplane is illustrated. The rider lies underneath the multiple wings, so as to diminish the resistance to progression through the air. The apparatus could thus be used as an aërial toboggan for coasting down the atmosphere. To prolong the flights two flappers actuated by a treadle were to be employed, their ends being hinged at a point above the operator’s back. Though the device was patented, no very serious efforts were made to operate it practically. Once, indeed, the inventor took his glider to a meadow and mounted it, during a lull in the evening wind, but soon a gust caught him up, carried him some distance from the ground and toppled him over sidewise, breaking some of the surfaces. The machine disclosed some good working principles; but it was inadequately ruddered, and too feebly constructed, to weather the buffets of the prevailing ground currents.
In 1871 M. A. Penaud produced the interesting toy aëroplane shown in the figure. The model is propelled horizontally forward by a single screw, actuated by twisted rubber, and is fastened, as shown, to the middle of a long stick or backbone. The center of mass of the machine is well to the front, tending to plunge the model earthward like a heavy-headed arrow; but this down-diving is promptly checked by the tiny rudder which is so inclined as to counteract the diving proclivity. That is to say the rudder dips so as to receive the aërial impact on its upper surface; which impact increases with the speed of flight and causes the bow to rise, until the weight before the wings just balances the impact on the rudder at the rear. The equilibrium is thus automatic, on the principle expounded by Sir George Cayley sixty years earlier.
In 1879 M. Victor Tatin made some very promising tests with the model shown, so promising, in fact, as to convince many that human flight was even then practicable. This little flyer was a twin-screw monoplane mounted on wheels, and actuated by an oscillating compressed air engine, the whole machine weighing 3.85 pounds, and supported by a silk plane measuring 16 by 75 inches. The central body of the aëroplane was a thin steel tube three feet long by four inches in diameter containing the compressed air, and weighing only one pound and a half, though strong enough to endure a pressure of twenty atmospheres. When the model was allowed to run round a board walk 46 feet in diameter, tethered to a stake at the center, it quickly acquired a speed of 18 miles an hour, rose in the air, and flew a distance of fifty feet.
In 1891, twelve years after Tatin’s experiment, Lawrence Hargrave, of Sydney, Australia, made a similar compressed air monoplane, with a single-screw propeller, but without wheels for launching and lighting. The model, which is shown, had a wing-spread of 20 square feet, weighed about three pounds, and flew 128 feet in eight seconds. The weight carried was at the rate of 90 pounds per horse power, a very encouraging result. Two years later he described a small steam engine which he had developed, weighing 10.7 pounds per horse power, and capable of driving the model about two miles, though he did not use it for that purpose, being engrossed with other researches.
One interesting outcome of his numerous experiments was the Hargrave Kite, now more familiarly known as the box kite. A good example of his kites is the type shown. This consists of two arched biplanes mounted tandem on a backbone, or connecting framework. The kite floats steadily, and was thought suitable for the body of a flying machine to be driven by an engine and propeller. Thus meteorology is indebted to aëronautics for its most useful kite.
A still more ambitious helicopter was that shown invented by Professor Forlanini, an Italian Civil Engineer, and launched in 1878. The lower screw was fastened to the frame of a steam engine, the upper screw was attached to the crank shaft. Steam was supplied from the globe shown beneath, which was two thirds filled with water, and well heated over a separate fire just before an ascension. As the globe was merely a reservoir of hot water and steam, carrying neither fuel nor furnace, its power waned rapidly. The best flight lasted about twenty seconds, attaining a height of 42 feet. The apparatus weighed 77 pounds, spread 21.5 square feet of screw surface, and lifted about 26.4 pounds per horse power.
In 1784 Launoy and Bienvenu, the first a naturalist, the second a mechanician, exhibited before the French Academy the interesting toy shown. This was the first power-driven helicopter, and is said to have lifted itself in the air quite readily. As may be observed it consists of two coaxial screws rotating in opposite directions actuated by the power of an elastic stick, like a bow. The screws were each about one foot in diameter and made of four feathers; one screw being fastened to the top of the rotating shaft, the other fastened to the bow, which rotated in the contrary direction. The little model excited much interest, particularly as its inventors expected to build a man-carrying helicopter on the same plan. The larger project was obviously without merit; for no combination of springs can maintain flight for more than a few seconds even on the most favorable scale.
n experienced sailor, Captain Le Bris, having observed the albatross soaring without wing-beat, determined to imitate the fascinating flight of that limber-winged spirit of the sea. To such end he built the bird shown, a ninety-pound albatross, with arched wings fifty feet across and articulated to the boat-like body. In this the brave aviator would stand upright, turn the wings and tail to maintain his balance, and steer grandly through the sky. Placing this long-winged creature across a cart driven by a peasant, he stood erect and headed against a breeze; the wings set low to prevent lifting till an opportune moment, and the bird held down to the car by a rope which the captain could quickly release. When the horse was a-trot, and the wind blowing freshly, Le Bris raised the front edges of the wings.
But Mouillard did more than theorize; he built soaring machines and soared a little. His third and best glider, illustrated, was a tailless monoplane made of curved agave sticks screwed to boards, and covered with muslin. The aviator, standing in the open space C, harnessed the plane on with straps looped round his legs and shoulders, and fastened to the points D D. His forearms, passing under straps, rested on the board, enabling him to tilt the whole by shifting his weight
Blériot would improve that record at once, by flying in a closed circuit embracing several villages.
His renowned cross-country flight was directed from Toury to Artenay, a village nine miles distant. Mounting his aëroplane VIII-ter, at mid afternoon, in presence of a large gathering, Blériot followed the course shown. In the neighborhood of Artenay he landed for a few minutes. After some slight repairs to his magneto, he reascended, turned about and headed for home. Half way on his return course he stopped again for a few minutes, at the Village of Santilly; then readily reascended and flew to the neighborhood of his starting point. He thus traveled about 17 miles in a closed circuit. This performance, with that of Farman the day before, inaugurated the period of aërial voyages in heavier-than-air machines.
The prominent feature of Etrich’s monoplane was the elastic construction of its wings and tail. Across the rigid main bars of each wing were fastened numerous ribs with bamboo terminals, thus making the rear margin and tip of the wing flexible. Similarly the tail, or horizontal rudder, was framed of bamboo. Hence the pilot, by use of control wires, could flex both the wing margins and the tail up and down at will, to steer the machine, or he could let go the controls and allow the distorted surfaces to spring into their normal positions, and the machine to pursue the even tenor of its way.
“In the accompanying figure the solid arrows in the interior part represent the resultant motions of the winds (longer arrows indicating greater velocities), in case of an earth with a homogeneous surface over both hemispheres, in which the motions would be symmetrical in both and the same at all longitudes, and the equatorial and tropical calm belts would be situated at equal distances from each pole. The dotted arrows indicate the strong, almost eastern motion of the air at all latitudes at some high altitude, as that of the cirrus clouds.
the figure shows the recording anemometer for speed and double direction constructed by the writer in 1892. A large weather vane was firmly strapped to a vertical pipe which turned freely on ball bearings and, by means of a small crank actuating a chronograph pencil, recorded its fluctuations on a long sheet of paper winding on the drum from a roll behind. On top of the pipe and about fifteen feet from the ground, was mounted a carefully balanced horizontal vane, from which a fine steel wire ran down the axis of the pipe to a fixed pulley, thence to a second recording pencil. A third pencil recorded the beats of a pendulum, thus standardizing the speed of the paper. A fourth pencil, not shown, was designed to record the turns of an anemometer mounted near the top of the pipe. The records of the wind speed thus secured are omitted for lack of standardization, as the experiments were prematurely terminated.
Parseval Kite Balloon.
Another valiant English leader in aërostation was James Glaisher, member of the British Association for the Advancement of Science. As one of a committee of twelve appointed by that body in 1861, to explore the higher strata of the atmosphere by means of the balloon, he volunteered his services as an observer, when no other capable man could offer to do so. With a professional aëronaut, Mr. Coxwell, and a new balloon specially constructed for the work, cubing 90,000 feet, he made eleven ascensions for the society, four from Wolverhampton, seven from Woolwich. Incidentally he made seventeen other ascents of various altitude; not at the expense of the committee, but as a scientific passenger in public balloon ascents advertised beforehand.
Leonardo da Vinci, who was a gifted engineer as well as an artist, devised a flying gear for man which shows some dynamic improvement over the mechanism of the old-time angels, flying gods, and hobgoblins. As shown in the accompanying sketch, it provided for gravitational balance by use of an expanding tail projecting well to the rear. Moreover, the propulsion was to employ both arms and legs. This design is considered very remarkable for the time in which it was produced, probably a few years before the discovery of America; and yet it is but one of Da Vinci’s quaint aëronautical inventions, as will appear later.
The Gross III measured 70 meters long, cubed 7,500 meters, and was propelled by four Körting motors aggregating 300 horse power. This was a splendid vessel, and one of extraordinary speed.
One might prefer a single bird, which could be ridden bareback by a man or woman of common equestrian skill. The early philosophers, therefore, sought with some care for such a creature.
One of the earliest authenticated devices of this kind was the invention of Blanchard, described by him in the Journal de Paris, August 28, 1781, nearly two years before the invention of the hot-air balloon, of which he became later an enthusiastic votary. As his device is but one of a large number that appeared before the close of the nineteenth century, and the advent of light motors, the reader who wishes fuller acquaintance with man-driven airships may be referred to Mr. Chanute’s book, entitled Progress in Flying-Machines, which describes a large variety of such inventions, and discusses the merit and weakness of each.
The first vacuum balloon was proposed by the Jesuit father, Francis Lana, and described in his book Podromo dell’Arte Maestra Brecia, which appeared in 1670. Though not a practical project like Gusmao’s, it was very ingenious, and marks an interesting phase in the evolution of the fundamental idea of the air ship, or “balloon” as it was called by the inventor, who then coined the word now in common use. Lana proposed to use four copper spheres each 25 feet in diameter and 1/225 inches in wall thickness, quite well exhausted of air, to give ascensional force which he computed at 1,200 pounds aggregate for the four spheres. From these he would suspend the passengers in a boat having a mast and sail to propel the ship in time of favorable wind. Having computed the buoyancy according to well-known physical laws, he could see no possible objection to his project “unless,” he writes, “it be that God would never permit this invention to be practically applied, in order to prevent the consequences that would ensue therefrom in the civil and political government of men.”
The ascent of this, the first hydrogen balloon, was a popular and a memorable event. The field was lined with troops. The curious spectators had thronged every thoroughfare and darkened every housetop. It was an all day festival, inaugurating a peculiarly French science, with French animation. The booming of cannon announced to all Paris the impending flight of the balloon. At five o’clock, in the presence of 50,000 spectators, and in a shower of rain, the balloon rose more than half a mile and entered the clouds. The people overwhelmed with surprise and enthusiasm, stood gazing upward, despite the rain, observing every maneuver till the vessel had ascended and faded from view.
The public inauguration of aëronautics occurred on June 5, 1783, at Annonay, the home of the Montgolfier family, 36 miles from Lyons. The states of Vivarais being assembled at that place, were invited to witness the ascension. The Deputies and many spectators found in the public square an enormous bag which, with its frame, weighed 300 pounds, and would inflate to a ball 35 feet in diameter. When told that this huge mass would rise to the clouds they were astonished and incredulous. The Montgolfiers, however, lit a fire beneath and let the bag speak for itself. It gradually distended, assuming a beautiful form, and struggling to free itself from the men who were holding it. At a given signal it was released; it ascended rapidly, and in ten minutes attained a height of 6,000 feet. It drifted a mile and a half and sank gently to the ground.
Stephen Montgolfier now wishing to send up human passengers, made a balloon of 100,000 cubic feet capacity. It was shaped like a full lemon pointing upward, with a cylindrical neck below, 16 feet in diameter. Around this neck was a wicker balcony three feet wide, to carry the aëronauts, bundles of straw for fuel, pails of water and sponges to extinguish incipient conflagrations, here and there in the balloon, during a journey. Through stokeholes in the side of the neck sheaves of straw could be forked to the grate suspended centrally below by radial chains. During inflation the base of the balloon rested on a platform, and its top was supported by a rope stretched between two poles. The vessel when completed, in a garden of the Faubourg St. Antoine, was 85 feet high by 48 feet across, and weighed 1,600 pounds. About its zone, painted in oil, were elegant decorations; portraits, cyphers of the king’s name, fleur-de-lis, with fancy borders below and above; while higher still, on the arching dome of the bag, were all the signs of the celestial zodiac.
This balloon was a truly scientific creation, which advanced aërostation from tottering infancy almost to full prime. The bag was a sphere 27½ feet in diameter made of gores of varnished silk. A net covered the upper half and was fastened to a horizontal hoop girding the middle of the globe, and called the “equator.” From the equator depended ropes which supported, just below the spherical bag, a wicker boat measuring eight feet by four, covered with painted linen and beautifully ornamented. The balloon had at the bottom a silk neck 7 inches in diameter, to admit the gas during inflation, and at the top, a valve which could be opened by means of a cord in the boat to let out gas during a voyage, so as to lower the balloon, or to relieve excessive pressure. In the boat were carried sand ballast to regulate the height of ascension, a barometer to measure the elevation, anchor and rope for landing, a thermometer, notebook, provisions, and all the paraphernalia of a scientific voyage. Barring the fancy boat, this is almost a description of a good modern balloon.
The largest hot-air balloon ever constructed, La Flesselle, was launched from the suburbs of the city of Lyons on January 19, 1784, just two months after the ascent of the first human passengers. It was also one of the most troublesome to assemble and keep in repair. Day by day, for more than a week, the balloon was inflated for the purpose of attaching the ropes to support the great gallery. But the wind blew dreadfully at times; rain and snow fell on the machine; frost and ice covered the huge bag; many rents ensued, demanding frequent repairs. On one occasion, when fed too freely with flame from straw sprinkled with alcohol, the monstrous ship rose so vigorously as to drag fifty men with it some distance along the ground. Finally on the 19th of January, when the weather moderated, the operators built small fires under the scaffold below the balloon, and thawed away the ice from the drenched and frozen bag. Then they stocked its gallery with straw and pitchforks, with fire extinguishers, and other provisions for the journey. The inflation beginning about noon, occupied but seventeen minutes. The balloon swelled out rapidly, with the roaring flames ascending inside, and at last stood forth huge and majestic before the admiring multitude—a towering thing of magic growth, 100 feet in diameter by 130 feet high.
he vessel selected for that famous cruise was The Great Balloon of Nassau, then recently built by Mr. Green and representing all that his skill and experience could devise. It was of pear shape, formed of the finest crimson and white silk, “spun, wove and dyed expressly for the purpose,” and comprising when distended a volume of 85,000 cubic feet. From its stout balloon-ring six feet in diameter was suspended a wicker car measuring nine feet long by four wide, having a seat across either end, and a cushioned bottom to serve as a bed, if such should be needed. Across the middle of the car was a plank supporting a windlass for raising or lowering the guide-rope, that is a heavy rope which could be trailed over land, or water, to keep the balloon at a nearly constant level without expenditure of ballast, and to check its speed on landing. This valuable device invented by Mr. Green in 1820, was now to receive adequate trial, which, indeed, formed one of the chief purposes of the cruise. Other paraphernalia of the voyage were food and drink, warm clothing, lamps, trumpets, telescopes, barometers, a quicklime coffee-heater, a grapnel and cable, and a ton of sand ballast in bags.
A still more elaborate and colossal air ship was the Geant, constructed in 1863, for A. Nadar of Paris. It was made of a double layer of white silk, had a volume of 215,000 cubic feet and a buoyancy of 4½ tons. The car was a wicker cabin 13 feet wide by 7 feet high, with a wicker balcony round the top so that the roof could be used as an observation deck—a delightful place to loll in the starlight, or watch the morning sun “flatter the mountain tops with sovereign eye.” The closed car comprised two main rooms with a hallway between them, one containing the captain’s bed and baggage, the other having three superposed berths for passengers. Minor divisions of the car were reserved for provisions, a lavatory, photography and a printing press, the latter to be used for the dissemination of news from the sky, as the navigators floated from state to state. A compensator balloon of 3,500 cubic feet, just below the main bag and connected with it, received the escaping gas during expansion with increase of tempera61ture or altitude, and gave it back on contraction.
The ripping panel, invented in 1844 by America’s foremost pioneer aëronaut, John Wise, is a simple and an excellent practical device. This is a long patch running longitudinally above the equator of the balloon, feebly sewed to the envelope, and having a cord, called the “ripping cord,” extending down to the car along the outside or inside of the bag, so that the pilot on coming to earth can let out the gas quickly by tearing a rent in the balloon, thus flattening it promptly on the earth’s surface, so as to avoid dragging and bumping if any wind prevails.
The first attempts at balloon propulsion could not be seriously regarded by trained engineers, even at the inception of aëronautics; but still, as infantile steps in the new art, they may deserve passing notice.
Blanchard, on March 2, 1784, made the first real effort to steer a balloon, using for that purpose a spherical gas bag and car provided with aërial oars and a rudder. As he was about to ascend, however, from the Champs de Mars, a young officer with drawn sword persisted in accompanying the pilot, thus compelling Blanchard to leave his wings on earth to allow sufficient buoyancy for himself and his obtrusive guest. His first trial was, therefore, frustrated; but subsequent ones made with that inadequate contrivance also proved futile under the best circumstances; for the scheme was evidently puerile, though tried by various grown-up men besides M. Blanchard.
A more reasonable plan for practical navigation was devised and tried by the Robert brothers. A melon-shaped balloon, fifty-two feet long by thirty-two feet in diameter, was made of silk and inflated with pure hydrogen. Beneath was suspended a longish car of light wood covered with sky-blue silk. This elegant ship was to be rowed through heaven by means of six silken oars actuated by sturdy sailors. A silken rudder should guide her at pleasure when the winds were asleep, or softly playing in the placid sky. She was a fairy bark, indeed, a soaring castle lovely to behold.
After a preliminary trial, accompanied by their patron, the Duke de Chartres, they were ready for a substantial journey. On September 19, 1784, the vessel was inflated and taken to the Garden of the Tuileries, in front of the palace, where its cords were held by Marshall Richelieu and three other noblemen. At eleven forty-five the two Roberts and their brother-in-law arose and drifted beyond the horizon on a seven hours’ cruise. Before coming to earth, they plied the oars vigorously, and described a curve of one kilometer radius, thus deviating 22° from the feeble wind then prevailing.
While Blanchard and other aëronauts were paddling their globose bags in search of favorable winds, vainly hoping thereby to direct their course in the air, General Meusnier of the French army, and member of the Academy of Sciences, made a systematic study of the requirements for practical air navigation. After some research on forms suitable for aëronautic hulls, he designed a power balloon having a pointed car suspended from a bag of goose-egg form, this latter embodying his idea of the best shape for a balloon that must cleave the air swiftly and resist deformation. The propulsion was to be effected by means of three coaxial screw propellers, supported on the rigging between car and bag, and actuated by eighty men, for lack of a light artificial motor. He thus hoped to obtain a moderate velocity which, combined with skillfully selected air currents, would enable the ship to reach her destination in ordinary weather
In 1820 Rufus Porter, a Yankee inventor, and later the original founder of the Scientific American, patented an air ship of very promising appearance for that early day. Its hull was a long, finely tapering symmetrical spindle, suspending a car of similar shape by means of cords, which were vertical at its middle but more and more slanting toward its ends. Midway between the hull and car was a large screw propeller actuated by a steam engine in the car. A model of this dirigible exhibited in Boston and New York, some years later, is reported to have carried its own power, at fair speed, and to have obeyed its helm satisfactorily.
In 1850 a clockmaker and skillful workman, Jullien by name, exhibited in the Hippodrome, at Paris, a torpedo-shaped model balloon of gold-beater’s skin, provided with a screw propeller at either side of its bow, and a double rudder at its stern. It measured 23 feet in length and weighed 1,100 grammes complete. The propellers were actuated by spring power, and proved able to drive the tiny vessel against a moderate wind. The most suitable form for the bag was determined by towing models through water.
Giffard was succeeded in France, first by Dupuy de Lome; then by Gaston Tissandier, well-meaning projectors of steerable balloons, but too cautious to effect an important advance in the art. The first of these gentlemen, an eminent marine engineer, in 1872, completed a gas balloon for the French government, resembling the one designed by General Meusnier in 1784, and like that also driven by muscular power actuating a screw, and kept rigidly inflated by use of an internal balloon, or ballonet. The car was suspended from the bag by a close fitting cover instead of a net, in order to lessen the resistance, and it was kept in alignment by use of crossed suspension cords. A speed of but six miles an hour was attained by the industrious work of eight men operating an ample screw propeller. A decade later Tissandier, with a balloon of like design, but driven by the power of an electric motor and bichromate of potash battery, attained a speed of six to eight miles an hour.
The illustrious Henri Giffard was perhaps the first aëronautical engineer adequately endowed and circumstanced to realize, on a practical scale, General Meusnier’s well pondered and truly scientific plans for a motor balloon. He had studied in the college of Bourbon, and had worked in the railroad shops of the Paris and St. Germain railway. He had further equipped himself by making free balloon ascensions, under the auspices of Eugene Godard, for the purpose of studying the atmosphere; and by building light engines, one of which weighed 100 pounds, and developed three horse power. Finally in 1851 he patented an air ship, consisting of an elongated bag and car, propelled by a screw driven by a steam engine. He had not the means to build such a vessel, but he had the genius and training necessary to construct it, and at the same time enough enthusiasm and persuasive power to induce his friends, David and Sciama, to loan him the requisite funds.
Captain Charles Renard proved to be a worthy inheritor of the dreams, experience and inventions of the first century of aëronautical votaries. He did not, indeed, have the picturesque madness displayed by some of his predecessors; he did not project schemes of marvelous originality or boldness; but he manifested uncommonly good judgment and excellent scientific method in combining the researches and contrivances of others with those of himself and his collaborator, Captain Krebs. As a consequence they produced the first man-carrying dirigible that ever returned against the wind to its starting point, and the first aërial vessel whose shape and dynamic adjustment even approximated the requirements of steady and swift navigation in a surrounding medium presenting various conditions of turbulence or calm.
The Ville de Paris showed considerable resemblance to her prototype, the France of 1884, but differed from that elegant vessel in various important features. Her hull was shaped like a wine bottle with its thickest end, or bow, brought to a sharp projectile point, and its other end furnished, like an arrow, with four fixed guiding surfaces to steady its flight. These guiding surfaces were elongated, finlike, cylindrical sacs, inflated as shown in the illustration. The hull measured 200 feet long, 34½ feet in major diameter, 112,847 cubic feet in volume. Heavy bands of canvas with their edges sewed along the sides of the balloon served as flaps for the attachment of the cords suspending the long car beneath. With this long suspension the weight of the car was more evenly distributed over the envelope than in the Lebaudy balloons. An interesting improvement in this air ship was the stabilizing planes, placed above the car, fore and aft, to lift or depress aëroplanelike, thus enabling the pilot to raise or lower the vessel, also to alter her trim, or to check her pitching. As might be expected, her flight was very steady, but as the motor developed only 70 to 75 horse power, her velocity did not exceed twenty-five miles per hour. In January, 1908, she made a run of 147 miles in seven hours, six minutes, with an average speed of 21 miles an hour.
Besides the great auto balloons designed by Julliot and Surcouf, of which the République and Colonel Renard are examples, a number of convenient cruisers were brought forth in 1909 by the Zodiac Company. One of the leading spirits in this enterprise was the famous Count de la Vaulx, well known for his auto balloon designs and his long voyages in sphericles. The chief merit of these modest air ships, which ranged in volume from 25,000 cubic feet upwards, was cheapness and facility of demounting and shipment. They were intended to popularize the art among the masses, by giving everyone a chance to make a voyage at no great expense. Besides their applicability to sport, touring, and public uses, some were designed for considerable speed and endurance; which qualities, together with their demountability and partial independence of hangars, were expected to give them military value.
In outward appearance the Clément-Bayard II closely resembled her predecessor, except for the absence of empennage on her envelope. In the whalelike elegance of her hull she was, in fact, a reversion to the trim and efficient model of Renard’s dirigible of 1884, which in turn was a fair copy of Jullien’s model of 1850, all having excellent forms for speed and stability. But the new vessel was of greater size and power than her predecessor. Her net buoyancy was sufficient to carry twenty passengers. Her average speed tested in a round-trip voyage was about 50 kilometers or 31 miles per hour when her two motors developed 200 horse power, and 55 kilometers or 34 miles per hour when the engines developed their maximum effort of 260 horse power.
The dirigible to be purchased with the money secured by the popular subscription organized by the Morning Post was ordered from the Lebaudy factory at Moisson in July, 1909, to be delivered directly through the air to Farnborough before November 6, 1910. This stipulation was severe enough, but furthermore the vessel was to be a considerable departure from any thus far built at that famous factory, and was to be the largest air ship yet constructed in France. As usual the general design of the huge balloon was entrusted to the distinguished aëronautical engineer, Henri Julliot, and this was a certain guarantee of its successful operation.
After four preliminary ascensions the great air ship started from Moisson to her destination at Farnborough, having on board Henri Julliot, Louis Capazza, the pilot, Alexander Bannerman, director of the aëronautic military school at Aldershot, and five other men. It was a triumphant and glorious voyage, one of the most splendid in the history of aërostation. Piloted by aid of chart and compass, and by signal fires and captive balloons arranged along her route, the vessel followed a direct course, without check or hindrance, crossing a wide part of the English Channel and arriving before the hangar at Aldershot, where the British soldiers awaited her, and where she was safely landed, having made the whole voyage of 230 miles in 5.5 hours, at a level varying between five hundred and two thousand feet. As shown by the accompanying map, about one third of the route lay over the Channel, or, more accurately, 78 miles, which was traversed in two hours. Thus the whole journey was accomplished at an average speed of nearly forty-two miles an hour, or in less time than it could be effected in any other way than through the air.
Da Vinci’s second flyer was a helicopter. An aërial screw 96 feet in diameter was to be turned by a strong and nimble artist who might, by prodigious effort, lift himself for a short time. Though various small paper screws were made to ascend in the air, the larger enterprise was never seriously undertaken. Many subsequent inventors developed the same project; but the fellow turning the screw always found it dreadful toil and a hopelessly futile task. Of late the man-driven helicopter has been abandoned, but the motor-driven one is very much cultivated. Scores of inventors in recent years, aided by light motors, have been trying to screw boldly skyward, and some have succeeded in rising on a helicopter carrying one man.
Da Vinci’s third scheme for human flight, was a framed sail on which a man could ride downward, if not upward. This device never fails to navigate with its confiding sailor. Sometimes he lands in one posture, again in another; but voyage he must, with the certainty of gravitation. Leonardo is, therefore, the father of the parachute. This, in turn, has had a varied offspring. The common parachute, the aërial glider, the soaring machine, or passive aëroplane, that rides the wind without motive power and without loss of energy.
The earliest of Da Vinci’s aëronautic ideas to be practically realized was the parachute. The exact date of its first employment is not exactly known. In the year 1617 Fauste Veranzio published in Venice a good technical description of the construction and operation of the parachute, accompanied by a clear illustration.
Previous to Lenormand’s experiments, Blanchard, the aëronaut, had dropped small parachutes from his balloon, sometimes carrying animals, but never a human being. For unaccountable reasons the world had to wait fourteen years longer to see a man make the new familiar parachute descent from a balloon. On October 22, 1797, in presence of a large crowd Jacques Garnerin ascended in a closed parachute to a height of 3,000 feet, then cut loose. The people were astonished and appalled; but they soon saw the umbrella-shaped canvas spread open and oscillate in the sky with its human freight. As it was but eight yards in diameter, it descended rapidly and struck the ground with violence, throwing Garnerin from his seat. He escaped with a bruised foot, mounted a horse, and returned to the starting point, where he received a lively ovation.
Put together scientifically and from sections of wood specially tested, a remarkable strength may be obtained by such a method of building. The figure shows how a girder aircraft body, supported by trestles only at its ends, may support from its centre, without yielding, a tray containing a number of heavy weights
The driver of a modern-type aeroplane, sitting snugly within its hull, has a wheel and instrument-board before him, as sketched. As he flies across country he has many things to think of. Holding the control-wheel in both hands, his feet resting upon the rudder-bar, his eyes rove constantly among the instruments [Pg 163]on the dashboard before him. He glances at the compass often, for it is by this that he steers; and when the air is clear, and the earth below plainly seen, he will every now and then glance over the side of the hull, so as to be on the look-out for a landmark that may tell him he is on his course.
A. Pilot’s seat
B. Hand-wheel (pushed forward or backward operates elevator; twisted sideways works ailerons)
C. Foot-bar actuating rudder
E. Dial showing number of revolutions per minute that engine is making
F. Gauge showing pressure in petrol tank
G. Speed indicator
H. Dial showing altitude
J. Switch for cutting off ignition.
showing the “stream-line” effect which is gained by tapering the body, also the simplification of the landing chassis, and the use of a minimum of wires.
A "No. 2 flying boat," just built by Mr. Curtiss, and successfully tested on Lake Keuka, Hammondsport, in July, 1912, is the "last word" in aviation so far. An illustration in this book, made from photographs taken in mid-July, 1912, shows fully the bullet-shape of the "flying fish."
It is a real boat, built with a fish-shaped body containing two comfortable seats for the pilot and passenger or observer, either of whom can operate the machine by a system of dual control, making it also available for teaching the art of flying.
All the controls are fastened to the rear of the boat's hull, which makes them very rigid and strong, while the boat itself, made in stream-line form, offers the least possible resistance to the air, even less than that offered by the landing gear upon a standard land machine. Above the boat are mounted the wings and aeroplane surface. In the centre of this standard biplane construction is situated the eighty horse-power motor with its propeller in the rear, thus returning to the original practice, as in the standard Curtiss machines, of having a single propeller attached direct to the motor, thus doing away with all chains and transmission gearing which might give trouble, and differing from the earlier model flying boat built in San Diego, California, last winter (1911-12), which was equipped with "tractor" propellors propellers in front driven by chains.
The new flying boat is twenty-six feet long and three feet wide. The planes are five and a half feet deep and thirty feet wide. It runs on the water at a speed of fifty miles an hour, and is driven by an eighty horse-power Curtiss motor. At a greater speed than this it cannot be kept on the water, but rises in the air and flies at from fifty to sixty miles per hour.
Following the success of the "White Wing" we started in to build another machine, embodying all that we had learned from our experience with the two previous ones. Following our custom of giving each machine a name to distinguish it from the preceding one, we called this third aeroplane the "June Bug." The name was aptly chosen, for it was a success from the very beginning. Indeed, it flew so well that we soon decided it was good enough to win the trophy which had been offered by The Scientific American for the first public flight of one kilometer, or five-eights of a mile, straightaway. This trophy, by the way, was the first to be offered in this country for an aeroplane flight, and the conditions specified that it should become the property of the person winning it three years in succession. The "June Bug" was given a thorough try-out before we made arrangements to fly for the trophy, and we were confident it would fulfill the requirements.
1. Cylinder; 2. Engine Bed; 3. Fuel Tank: 4. Oil Pan; 5. Radiator; 6. Propeller; 7. Crank Case; 8. Carbureter; 9. Gasoline Pipe; 10. Air Intake; 11. Auxiliary Air-pipe; 12. Drain Cock; 13. Water Cooling System; 14. Gas Intake Pipe; 15. Rocker Arm; 16. Spring on Intake Valve; 17. Spring on Exhaust Valve; 18. Exhaust Port; 19. Rocker Arm Post; 20. Push Rod.
By 1903 the Wright Brothers were ready to build a powered man-carrying flying machine. Their experiments had shown them just how much moving air was necessary to create lift in such a machine. To create the needed thrust, an engine having eight horsepower and weighing not over 200 pounds had to be fitted into the machine. Such an engine was not available, so the Wrights built one in their shop at Dayton, Ohio. They were ready to ship their airplane to Kitty Hawk, N. C., in the fall of 1903.
After a year of exhaustive study and experiments with models in their wind tunnel, the Wright Brothers were ready to experiment with a man-carrying glider. With the thoroughness that was typical of every move of the Wrights, the brothers asked the government to let them have information on meteorological conditions all over the country. By studying the weather charts they were able to find a locality where there was a continual flow of wind. This would be nature’s wind tunnel where they could test their glider day after day. Through their study of the charts they found that the wind conditions at Kitty Hawk, on the North Carolina coast, seemed to offer the best possibilities for their glider test.
Orville and Wilbur Wright began their experiments with a small man-carrying glider at Kitty Hawk in 1900. From that time until 1903 they made hundreds of successful glider flights and kept accurate records of each flight. They recorded wind velocity, angle of flight, duration of flight, time of day, temperature, humidity, and sky conditions overhead with the typical Wright attention to detail. Each year the Wrights constructed new gliders which embodied principles they had discovered for themselves during their flights at Kitty Hawk. Each glider was larger and had longer and narrower wings than the one before. During the fall of 1902 the brothers recorded nearly a thousand flights in a glider with a wingspan of thirty-two feet. It had a front elevator and a vertical tail which helped to maintain lateral stability.
after testing more than 200 wing designs and plane surfaces in their wind tunnel, the Wright Brothers found out how to figure correctly the amount of curve, or camber, that was essential to weight-carrying wings. They discovered, too, that before man could be flown through the air, he must have his wings attached firmly to a body or platform which was firm and controllable. The Wrights in their earliest experiments had realized that to be practical their machine must be built not only to fly in a straight line, but also in order that it could be steered to the right or to the left. One day, Orville was twisting a cardboard box in his hand when Wilbur noticed it. Immediately he saw the solution to the problem of steering their airplane. The result was a design which changed the lift of either end of the wing by warping its surface. If one end of the wing was warped to give it more lift, the machine would lift on that side and fall off into a turn. Thus the problem of steering was solved by the Wrights
They found that a slight curve or camber in the wing section would cause the moving air to travel farther over the top of the wing surface than along the under side. This made the air pressure greater under the wing, gave a suction effect above the wing, and caused it to rise, creating lift. They discovered that a wing section of the proper camber would counteract the weight of gravity. Thus, a wing must be so designed that, with a certain amount of air flowing around it, it would lift a certain weight. They also discovered that air flow against any surface attached to the wing would cause a resistance or drag. Hundreds of experiments in their wind tunnel with various types of wing shapes gave the Wrights a series of tables from which to design a wing that would create the lift for a designed weight.
The Wright Brothers were not only inspired mechanics (as many people still believe today) but serious scientists, working along the soundest lines. In their keen desire to know what air pressure on wings really was, they cleared a corner of their bicycle shop and built a small wind tunnel with spare lumber and an old electric fan. They built small wing sections of various shapes and experimented with them in their wind tunnel. The electric fan was used to create the moving air around the wing section. By attaching the wing sections to a supporting frame and connecting the frame with a pointer and dial, they were able to keep a record of the effect of moving air on each experimental wing section. Through their wind tunnel research the Wright Brothers discovered the four forces that control all heavier-than-air flight: lift, thrust, weight, and drag.
Out in Dayton, Ohio, there were two small brothers, who dreamed, as countless other children before them had dreamed, of flying like birds through the air. Their dreams were heightened by a small toy given to them by their father, the pastor of a local church. This toy was to lead to an idea which had a profound effect on the world. You would probably call it a flying propeller. It consisted of a wooden propeller which slipped over a notched stick. By placing a finger against the propeller and rapidly pushing it up the notched stick, the propeller was made to whirl up off the end of the stick and fly into the air. The brothers, young as they were, never quite forgot this little toy as they continued to dream of flying like birds through the air.
Though the brothers continued to dream of flying, they were not the kind of lads who spent all their time in dreaming. They made kites which flew a little better and a little higher than those made by the other boys in the neighborhood. They built a press to print their own little newspaper, and they dabbled in woodcuts. To carve out porch posts for their father’s home they built an eight-foot wood-turning lathe. Indeed, they were the sort of boys who caused the neighbors to say, “What will they think of next?”
The brothers knew that if they ever wanted to see their dreams come true they must earn their own capital. In the early nineties America was in the midst of the bicycle craze. Everyone who could possibly afford to do so owned a bicycle of some sort and belonged to a cycle club. Being mechanically minded, the brothers did the logical thing. They set themselves up in a small bicycle shop in Dayton, next door to their home.
The bicycle shop in Dayton prospered, for the brothers were careful and expert mechanics, and cyclists in need of repairs made their way to the Wright Brothers’ shop.
Langley built his plane without much difficulty, but could not find anyone to make an engine large enough for it. Finally, Charles Manley, an expert engineer, asked for permission to build the engine. Manley’s engine was a five-cylinder, radial gasoline engine that developed 51 horsepower and was far ahead of its time. It was years before American radial engines were used successfully in airplanes.
Professor Langley called his machine the Aerodrome, and by October, 1903, the plane was ready for its test flight, with Manley to guide it. The Aerodrome was to be launched from a catapulting platform built on the roof of a houseboat. The houseboat was anchored on the Potomac River near Washington. As it left the platform the machine crashed into the river, and the trial was a dismal failure. The newspapers and the public ridiculed Langley, but he and Manley, who was unhurt in the crash, repaired the machine for another trial. This test took place on December 8, 1903, and again the Aerodrome crashed into the river. Manley once more escaped injury, but Langley and the government were abused by the public for wasting money. Langley was out of money himself, the government could not furnish funds for further trials, so the experiments were ended. The professor, discouraged and brokenhearted, gave up.
Octave Chanute, born in France and reared in America, was one of the first men to make a scientific approach to the problem of flying machines. A thorough scientist, he had followed the progress of all flight experiments the world over. He built gliders with one, two, and even five pairs of wings and tested all of them on the sand dunes of Lake Michigan. His most successful glides were made with a biplane glider. In 1894, he published a book called Progress of Flying Machines, which covered all the efforts of men like himself who had experimented with man-carrying gliders and flying machines.
Leonardo da Vinci, the great Italian artist and scientist, who lived in the fifteenth century, spent years experimenting with the idea of flying. He made a number of sketches of wings to be fitted to the arms and legs of man. His plan for a parachute was soundly worked out and his idea that the wings of a flying machine should be patterned after the wings of the bat found expression in the doped fabric covering of our early airplanes.
In 1678, Besnier, a French locksmith, constructed a curious flying machine consisting of two wooden bars which rested on his shoulders. At the ends of the bars he attached muslin wings, arranged to open on the down stroke and close on the up stroke. The wings were operated by moving the arms and legs. Although Besnier failed to realize that no man had sufficient muscular strength to fly as the bird flies, he did sense part of the truth—that gliding with the air currents was possible. During his experiments he is said to have jumped from a window sill, glided over the roof of a near-by cottage, and landed on a barge in the river.
Historians have unearthed stories in cuneiform writing of man’s attempts to fly. Some of these inscriptions date back more than five thousand years, to 3500 B.C. Perhaps the most famous of these stories is the ancient Babylonian tale of the shepherd boy, Etana, who rode on the back of an eagle.
The story of Dædalus and Icarus also tells us that man believed flying was somehow possible. Dædalus was a very clever man who lived with his son Icarus on the Island of Crete. The king of this island requested Dædalus to build a labyrinth or maze for him. Dædalus constructed the labyrinth so cleverly that only the king, who had the clue to the winding passages, could find his way out. One day the king became very angry at Dædalus and threw both him and his son Icarus into the labyrinth, intending that they should perish. Dædalus, who had been dreaming of flying, fashioned wings from wax and feathers, with which he and Icarus could fly to freedom. He cautioned Icarus that he must not fly too high or the sun would melt the wax in his wings. Icarus, impatient to escape, scarcely listened. Like birds the two flew into the air, quickly leaving the walls of the labyrinth. Dædalus, flying low, safely crossed the sea and reached Sicily. Icarus, unfortunately, failed to heed his father’s warning. Flying was so much fun that he rose higher and higher. Suddenly feathers began to drop one by one. Too late Icarus realized that the sun had melted the wax in his wings. Down, down he fell into the sea.
Beech C-45 (F-2)