Aeronautics

In November, 1906, nearly the whole civilized world was astonished to read that a rich young Brazilian aeronaut, residing in France, had actually succeeded in making a short flight, or, shall we say, an enormous "hop", in a heavier-than-air machine.

This pioneer of aviation was M. Santos Dumont. For five or six years before his experiments with the aeroplane he had made a great many flights in balloons, and also in dirigible balloons. He was the son of well-to-do parents - his father was a successful coffee planter - and he had ample means to carry on his costly experiments.

Visitors to Brooklands aerodrome on 25th September, 1913, saw one of the greatest sensations in this or any other century, for on that date a daring French aviator, M. Pegoud, performed the hazardous feat of flying upside down.

Hitherto we have described the rigid and semi-rigid types of air-ships. We have seen that the former maintains its shape without assistance from the gas which inflates its envelope and supplies the lifting power, while the latter, as its name implies, is dependent for its form partly on the flat rigid framework to which the car is attached, and partly on the gas balloon.

If the Wright brothers can lay claim to the title of "Fathers of the Biplane", then it is certain that M. Bleriot, the gallant French airman, can be styled the "Father of the Monoplane."

After M. Pegoud's exhibition of upside-down flying in this country it was only to be expected that British aviators would emulate his daring feat. Indeed, on the same day that the little Frenchman was turning somersaults in the air at Brooklands Mr. Hamel was asking M. Bleriot for a machine similar to that used by Pegoud, so that he might demonstrate to airmen the stability of the aeroplane in almost all conceivable positions.

However, it was not the daring and skilful Hamel who had the honour of first following in Pegoud's footsteps, but another celebrated pilot, Mr. Hucks.

In the House of Commons recently Mr. Bonar Law announced that since the commencement of the war 14,250 lives had been lost as the result of enemy action by submarines and air-craft. A large percentage of these figures represents women, children, and defenceless citizens.

The coming of the motor engine made events move rapidly in the world of aviation. About the year 1906 people's attention was drawn to France, where Santos Dumont was carrying out the wonderful experiments which we have already described. Then came Henri Farman, who piloted the famous biplane built by the Voisin brothers in 1907; an aeroplane destined to bring world-wide renown to its clever constructors and its equally clever and daring pilot.

"Another airman killed!" "There'll soon be none of those flying fellows left!" "Far too risky a game!" "Ought to be stopped by law!"

The desire to fly is no new growth in humanity. For countless years men have longed to emulate the birds - "To soar upward and glide, free as a bird, over smiling fields, leafy woods, and mirror-like lakes," as a great pioneer of aviation said. Great scholars and thinkers of old, such as Horace, Homer, Pindar, Tasso, and all the glorious line, dreamt of flight, but it has been left for the present century to see those dreams fulfilled.

About the time that M. Bleriot was developing his monoplane, and Santos Dumont was astonishing the world with his flying feats at Bagatelle, a young army officer was at work far away in a secluded part of the Scottish Highlands on the model of an aeroplane. This young man was Lieutenant J. W. Dunne, and his name has since been on everyone's lips wherever aviation is discussed.

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