CHAPTER XXVIII. THE CONSTITUTION OF THE AIR.

Mr. Spencer having filled the balloon with pure hydrogen, made his first trial with this machine late in an evening at the end of June. The performance of the vessel is thus described in the Westminster Gazette: - "The huge balloon filled slowly, so that the light was rapidly failing when at last the doors of the big shed slid open and the ship was brought carefully out, her motor started, and her maiden voyage commenced. With Mr. Stanley Spencer in the car, she sailed gracefully down the football field, wheeled round in a circle - a small circle, too - and for perhaps a quarter of an hour sailed a tortuous course over the heads of a small but enthusiastic crowd of spectators. The ship was handicapped to some extent by the fact that in their anxiety to make the trial the aeronauts had not waited to inflate it fully, but still it did its work well, answered its helm readily, showed no signs of rolling, and, in short, appeared to give entire satisfaction to everybody concerned - so much so, indeed, that Mr. Stanley Spencer informed the crowd after the ascent that he was quite ready to take up any challenge that M. Santos Dumont might throw down." Within a few weeks of this his first success Mr. Spencer was able to prove to the world that he had only claimed for his machine what its powers fully justified. On a still September afternoon, ascending alone, he steered his aerial ship in an easy and graceful flight over London, from the Crystal Palace to Harrow.