There was never a more enthusiastic and consistent student of the problems of flight than Otto Lilienthal, who was born in 1848 at Anklam, Pomerania, and even from his early school-days dreamed and planned the conquest of the air. His practical experiments began when, at the age of thirteen, he and his brother Gustav made wings consisting of wooden framework covered with linen, which Otto attached to his arms, and then ran downhill flapping them.


The very first successful design of internal combustion aero engine made was that of Charles Manly, who built a five-cylinder radial engine in 1901 for use with Langley's 'aerodrome,' as the latter inventor decided to call what has since become known as the aeroplane.

While Pilcher was carrying on Lilienthal's work in England, the great German had also a follower in America; one Octave Chanute, who, in one of the statements which he has left on the subject of his experiments acknowledges forty years' interest in the problem of flight, did more to develop the glider in America than - with the possible exception of Montgomery - any other man. Chanute had all the practicality of an American; he began his work, so far as actual gliding was concerned, with a full-sized glider of the Lilienthal type, just before Lilienthal was killed.

Although the first actual flight of an aeroplane was made by the Wrights on December 17th 1903, it is necessary, in considering the progress of design between that period and the present day, to go back to the earlier days of their experiments with 'gliders,' which show the alterations in design made by them in their step-bystep progress to a flying machine proper, and give a clear idea of the stage at which they had arrived in the art of aeroplane design at the time of their first flights.

M. Laurent Seguin, the inventor of the Gnome rotary aero engine, provided as great a stimulus to aviation as any that was given anterior to the war period, and brought about a great advance in mechanical flight, since these well-made engines gave a high-power output for their weight, and were extremely smooth in running.

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.

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