CHAPTER XXV. The Wright Biplane (Cont.)

The under part of the frame of the Wright biplane, technically known as the CHASSIS, resembled a pair of long "runner" skates, similar to those used in the Fens for skating races. Upon those runners the machine moved along the ground when starting to fly. In more modern machines the chassis is equipped with two or more small rubber-tyred wheels on which the machine runs along the ground before rising into the air, and on which it alights when a descent is made.

You will notice that the pilot's seat is fixed on the lower plane, and almost in the centre of it, while close by the engine is mounted. Alongside the engine is a radiator which cools the water that has passed round the cylinder of the engine in order to prevent them from becoming overheated.

Above the lower plane is a similar plane arranged parallel to it, and the two are connected by light upright posts of hickory wood known as STRUTS. Such an aeroplane as this, which is equipped with two main planes, known as a BIPLANE. Other types of air-craft are the MONOPLANE, possessing one main plane, and the TRIPLANE, consisting of three planes. No practical machine has been built with more than three main planes; indeed, the triplane is now almost obsolete.

The Wrights fitted their machine with two long-bladed wooden screws, or propellers, which by means of chains and sprocket-wheels, very like those of a bicycle, were driven by the engine, whose speed was about 1200 revolutions a minute. The first motor engine used by these clever pioneers had four cylinders, and developed about 20 horsepower. Nowadays engines are produced which develop more than five times that power.

In later machines one propeller is generally thought to be sufficient; in fact many constructors believe that there is danger in a two-propeller machine, for if one propeller got broken, the other propeller, working at full speed, would probably overturn the machine before the pilot could cut off his engine.

Beyond the propellers there are two little vertical planes which can be moved to one side or the other by a control lever in front of the pilot's seat. These planes or rudders steer the machine from side to side, answering the same purpose as the rudder of a boat.

In front of the supporting planes there are two other horizontal planes, arranged one above the other; these are much smaller than the main planes, and are known as the ELEVATORS. Their function is to raise or lower the machine by catching the air at different angles.

Comparison with a modern biplane, such as may be seen at an aerodrome on any "exhibition" day, will disclose several marked differences in construction between the modern type and the earlier Wright machine, though the central idea is the same.