E. Charles Vivian

The early history of flying, like that of most sciences, is replete with tragedies; in addition to these it contains one mystery concerning Clement Ader, who was well known among European pioneers in the development of the telephone, and first turned his attention to the problems of mechanical flight in 1872. At the outset he favoured the ornithopter principle, constructing a machine in the form of a bird with a wing-spread of twenty-six feet; this, according to Ader's conception, was to fly through the efforts of the operator.

In a review of progress such as this, it is obviously impossible, when a certain stage of development has been reached, owing to the very multiplicity of experimenters, to continue dealing in anything approaching detail with all the different types of machines; and it is proposed, therefore, from this point to deal only with tendencies, and to mention individuals merely as examples of a class of thought rather than as personalities, as it is often difficult fairly to allocate the responsibility for any particular innovation.

Among the first internal combustion engines to be taken into use with aircraft were those of the horizontally-opposed four-stroke cycle type, and, in every case in which these engines were used, their excellent balance and extremely even torque rendered them ideal-until the tremendous increase in power requirements rendered the type too long and bulky for placing in the fuselage of an aeroplane.

Langley was an old man when he began the study of aeronautics, or, as he himself might have expressed it, the study of aerodromics, since he persisted in calling the series of machines he built 'Aerodromes,' a word now used only to denote areas devoted to use as landing spaces for flying machines; the Wright Brothers, on the other hand, had the great gift of youth to aid them in their work.

In the last section an attempt has been made to show how, during what was from the design standpoint perhaps the most critical period, order gradually became evident out of chaos, ill-considered ideas dropped out through failure to make good, and, though there was still plenty of room for improvement in details, the bulk of the aeroplanes showed a general similarity in form and conception.

Although it has been little used for aircraft propulsion, the possibilities of the two-stroke cycle engine render some study of it desirable in this brief review of the various types of internal combustion engine applicable both to aeroplanes and airships.

Such information as is given here concerning the Wright Brothers is derived from the two best sources available, namely, the writings of Wilbur Wright himself, and a lecture given by Dr Griffith Brewer to members of the Royal Aeronautical Society. There is no doubt that so far as actual work in connection with aviation accomplished by the two brothers is concerned, Wilbur Wright's own statements are the clearest and best available.

Up to this point an attempt has been made to give some idea of the progress that was made during the eleven years that had elapsed since the days of the Wrights' first flights. Much advance had been made and aeroplanes had settled down, superficially at any rate, into more or less standardised forms in three main types - tractor monoplanes, tractor biplanes, and pusher biplanes.

The principal engines of British, French, and American design used in the war period and since are briefly described under the four distinct types of aero engine; such notable examples as the Rolls-Royce, Sunbeam, and Napier engines have been given special mention, as they embodied - and still embody - all that is best in aero engine practice. So far, however, little has been said about the development of German aero engine design, apart from the early Daimler and other pioneer makes.

Paris, October 21, 1897.

Report on the trials of M. Clement Ader's aviation apparatus.

M. Ader having notified the Minister of War by letter, July 21, 1897, that the Apparatus of Aviation which he had agreed to build under the conditions set forth in the convention of July 24th, 1894, was ready, and therefore requesting that trials be undertaken before a Committee appointed for this purpose as per the decision of August 4th, the Committee was appointed as follows: -

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