Aeronautics

A Brazilian by birth, Santos-Dumont began in Paris in the year 1898 to make history, which he subsequently wrote.

The last of the great contests to arouse public enthusiasm was the London to Manchester Flight of 1910. As far back as 1906, the Daily Mail had offered a prize of L10,000 to the first aviator who should accomplish this journey, and, for a long time, the offer was regarded as a perfectly safe one for any person or paper to make - it brought forth far more ridicule than belief.

Although French and German experiment in connection with the production of an airship which should be suitable for military purposes proceeded side by side, it is necessary to outline the development in the two countries separately, owing to the differing character of the work carried out. So far as France is concerned, experiment began with the Lebaudy brothers, originally sugar refiners, who turned their energies to airship construction in 1899.

The blending of fact and fancy which men call legend reached its fullest and richest expression in the golden age of Greece, and thus it is to Greek mythology that one must turn for the best form of any legend which foreshadows history. Yet the prevalence of legends regarding flight, existing in the records of practically every race, shows that this form of transit was a dream of many peoples - man always wanted to fly, and imagined means of flight.

There is so much overlapping in the crowded story of the first years of successful power-driven flight that at this point it is advisable to make a concise chronological survey of the chief events of the period of early development, although much of this is of necessity recapitulation. The story begins, of course, with Orville Wright's first flight of 852 feet at Kitty Hawk on December 19th, 1903. The next event of note was Wright's flight of 11.12 miles in 18 minutes 9 seconds at Dayton, Ohio, on September 26th, 1905, this being the first officially recorded flight.

As was the case with the aeroplane, Great Britain left France and Germany to make the running in the early days of airship construction; the balloon section of the Royal Engineers was compelled to confine its energies to work with balloons pure and simple until well after the twentieth century had dawned, and such experiments as were made in England were done by private initiative. As far back as 1900 Doctor Barton built an airship at the Alexandra Palace and voyaged across London in it. Four years later Mr E. T.

So far, the stories of the development of flight are either legendary or of more or less doubtful authenticity, even including that of Danti, who, although a man of remarkable attainments in more directions than that of attempted flight, suffers - so far as reputation is concerned - from the inexactitudes of his chroniclers; he may have soared over Thrasimene, as stated, or a mere hop with an ineffectual glider may have grown with the years to a legend of gliding flight.

Consideration of the events in the years immediately preceding the War must be limited to as brief a summary as possible, this not only because the full history of flying achievements is beyond the compass of any single book, but also because, viewing the matter in perspective, the years 1903-1911 show up as far more important as regards both design and performance. From 1912 to August of 1914, the development of aeronautics was hindered by the fact that it had not progressed far enough to form a real commercial asset in any country.

Prior to the war period, between the years 1910 and 1914, a German undertaking called the Deutsche Luftfahrt Actien Gesellschaft conducted a commercial Zeppelin service in which four airships known as the Sachsan, Hansa, Victoria Louise, and Schwaben were used. During the four years of its work, the company carried over 17,000 passengers, and over 100,000 miles were flown without incurring one fatality and with only minor and unavoidable accidents to the vessels composing the service.

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