Aeronautics History Vivian 1920 03 Evolution of the Aeroplane Years of Conquest
Geschichte der Luftfahrt bis 1920. Sprache des Werks: English. Version: 1.
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- A History of Aeronautics
- by E. Charles Vivian
XII. THE FIRST YEARS OF CONQUEST
It is no derogation of the work accomplished by the Wright Brothers to say that they won the honour of the first power-propelled flights in a heavier-than-air machine only by a short period. In Europe, and especially in France, independent experiment was being conducted by Ferber, by Santos-Dumont, and others, while in England Cody was not far behind the other giants of those days. The history of the early years of controlled power flights is a tangle of half-records; there were no chroniclers, only workers, and much of what was done goes unrecorded perforce, since it was not set down at the time.
Before passing to survey of those early years, let it be set down that in 1907, when the Wright Brothers had proved the practicability of their machines, negotiations were entered into between the brothers and the British War office. On April 12th 1907, the apostle of military stagnation, Haldane, then War Minister, put an end to the negotiations by declaring that 'the War office is not disposed to enter into relations at present with any manufacturer of aeroplanes' The state of the British air service in 1914 at the outbreak of hostilities, is eloquent regarding the pursuance of the policy which Haldane initiated.
'If I talked a lot,' said Wilbur Wright once, 'I should be like the parrot, which is the bird that speaks most and flies least.' That attitude is emblematic of the majority of the early fliers, and because of it the record of their achievements is incomplete to-day. Ferber, for instance, has left little from which to state what he did, and that little is scattered through various periodicals, scrappily enough. A French army officer, Captain Ferber was experimenting with monoplane and biplane gliders at the beginning of the century-his work was contemporary with that of the Wrights. He corresponded both with Chanute and with the Wrights, and in the end he was commissioned by the French Ministry of War to undertake the journey to America in order to negotiate with the Wright Brothers concerning French rights in the patents they had acquired, and to study their work at first hand.
Ferber's experiments in gliding began in 1899 at the Military School at Fountainebleau, with a canvas glider of some 80 square feet supporting surface, and weighing 65 lbs. Two years later he constructed a larger and more satisfactory machine, with which he made numerous excellent glides. Later, he constructed an apparatus which suspended a plane from a long arm which swung on a tower, in order that experiments might be carried out without risk to the experimenter, and it was not until 1905 that he attempted power-driven free flight. He took up the Voisin design of biplane for his power-driven flights, and virtually devoted all his energies to the study of aeronautics. His book, Aviation, its Dawn and Development, is a work of scientific value--unlike many of his contemporaries, Ferber brought to the study of the problems of flight a trained mind, and he was concerned equally with the theoretical problems of aeronautics and the practical aspects of the subject.
After Bleriot's successful cross-Channel flight, it was proposed to offer a prize of L1,000 for the feat which C. S. Rolls subsequently accomplished (starting from the English side of the Channel), a flight from Boulogne to Dover and back; in place of this, however, an aviation week at Boulogne was organised, but, although numerous aviators were invited to compete, the condition of the flying grounds was such that no competitions took place. Ferber was virtually the only one to do any flying at Boulogne, and at the outset he had his first accident; after what was for those days a good flight, he made a series of circles with his machine, when it suddenly struck the ground, being partially wrecked. Repairs were carried out, and Ferber resumed his exhibition flights, carrying on up to Wednesday, September 22nd, 1909. On that day he remained in the air for half an hour, and, as he was about to land, the machine struck a mound of earth and overturned, pinning Ferber under the weight of the motor. After being extricated, Ferber seemed to show little concern at the accident, but in a few minutes he complained of great pain, when he was conveyed to the ambulance shed on the ground.
'I was foolish,' he told those who were with him there. 'I was flying too low. It was my own fault and it will be a severe lesson to me. I wanted to turn round, and was only five metres from the ground.' A little after this, he got up from the couch on which he had been placed, and almost immediately collapsed, dying five minutes later.
Ferber's chief contemporaries in France were Santos-Dumont, of airship fame, Henri and Maurice Farman, Hubert Latham, Ernest Archdeacon, and Delagrange. These are names that come at once to mind, as does that of Bleriot, who accomplished the second great feat of power-driven flight, but as a matter of fact the years 1903-10 are filled with a little host of investigators and experimenters, many of whom, although their names do not survive to any extent, are but a very little way behind those mentioned here in enthusiasm and devotion. Archdeacon and Gabriel Voisin, the former of whom took to heart the success achieved by the Wright Brothers, co-operated in experiments in gliding. Archdeacon constructed a glider in box-kite fashion, and Voisin experimented with it on the Seine, the glider being towed by a motorboat to attain the necessary speed. It was Archdeacon who offered a cup for the first straight flight of 200 metres, which was won by Santos-Dumont, and he also combined with Henri Deutsch de la Meurthe in giving the prize for the first circular flight of a mile, which was won by Henry Farman on January 13th, 1908.
A history of the development of aviation in France in these, the strenuous years, would fill volumes in itself. Bleriot was carrying out experiments with a biplane glider on the Seine, and Robert Esnault-Pelterie was working on the lines of the Wright Brothers, bringing American practice to France. In America others besides the Wrights had wakened to the possibilities of heavier-than-air flight; Glenn Curtiss, in company with Dr Alexander Graham Bell, with J. A. D. McCurdy, and with F. W. Baldwin, a Canadian engineer, formed the Aerial Experiment Company, which built a number of aeroplanes, most famous of which were the 'June Bug,' the 'Red Wing,' and the 'White Wing.' In 1908 the 'June Bug 'won a cup presented by the Scientific American--it was the first prize offered in America in connection with aeroplane flight.
Among the little group of French experimenters in these first years of practical flight, Santos-Dumont takes high rank. He built his 'No. 14 bis' aeroplane in biplane form, with two superposed main plane surfaces, and fitted it with an eight-cylinder Antoinette motor driving a two-bladed aluminium propeller, of which the blades were 6 feet only from tip to tip. The total lift surface of 860 square feet was given with a wing-span of a little under 40 feet, and the weight of the complete machine was 353 lbs., of which the engine weighed 158 lbs. In July of 1906 Santos-Dumont flew a distance of a few yards in this machine, but damaged it in striking the ground; on October 23rd of the same year he made a flight of nearly 200 feet--which might have been longer, but that he feared a crowd in front of the aeroplane and cut off his ignition. This may be regarded as the first effective flight in Europe, and by it Santos-Dumont takes his place as one of the chief--if not the chief--of the pioneers of the first years of practical flight, so far as Europe is concerned.
Meanwhile, the Voisin Brothers, who in 1904 made cellular kites for Archdeacon to test by towing on the Seine from a motor launch, obtained data for the construction of the aeroplane which Delagrange and Henry Farman were to use later. The Voisin was a biplane, constructed with due regard to the designs of Langley, Lilienthal, and other earlier experimenters--both the Voisins and M. Colliex, their engineer, studied Lilienthal pretty exhaustively in getting out their design, though their own researches were very thorough as well. The weight of this Voisin biplane was about 1,450 lbs., and its maximum speed was some 38 to 40 miles per hour, the total supporting surface being about 535 square feet. It differed from the Wright design in the possession of a tail-piece, a characteristic which marked all the French school of early design as in opposition to the American. The Wright machine got its longitudinal stability by means of the main planes and the elevating planes, while the Voisin type added a third factor of stability in its sailplanes. Further, the Voisins fitted their biplane with a wheeled undercarriage, while the Wright machine, being fitted only with runners, demanded a launching rail for starting. Whether a machine should be tailless or tailed was for some long time matter for acute controversy, which in the end was settled by the fitting of a tail to the Wright machines-France won the dispute by the concession.
Henry Farman, who began his flying career with a Voisin machine, evolved from it the aeroplane which bore his name, following the main lines of the Voisin type fairly closely, but making alterations in the controls, and in the design of the undercarriage, which was somewhat elaborated, even to the inclusion of shock absorbers. The seven-cylinder 50 horse-power Gnome rotary engine was fitted to the Farman machine--the Voisins had fitted an eight-cylinder Antoinette, giving 50 horse-power at 1,100 revolutions per minute, with direct drive to the propeller. Farman reduced the weight of the machine from the 1,450 lbs. of the Voisins to some 1,010 lbs. or thereabouts, and the supporting area to 450 square feet. This machine won its chief fame with Paulhan as pilot in the famous London to Manchester flight--it is to be remarked, too, that Farman himself was the first man in Europe to accomplish a flight of a mile.
Other notable designs of these early days were the 'R.E.P.', Esnault Pelterie's machine, and the Curtiss-Herring biplane. Of these Esnault Pelterie's was a monoplane, designed in that form since Esnault Pelterie had found by experiment that the wire used in bracing offers far more resistance to the air than its dimensions would seem to warrant. He built the wings of sufficient strength to stand the strain of flight without bracing wires, and dependent only for their support on the points of attachment to the body of the machine; for the rest, it carried its propeller in front of the planes, and both horizontal and vertical rudders at the stern--a distinct departure from the Wright and similar types. One wheel only was fixed under the body where the undercarriage exists on a normal design, but light wheels were fixed, one at the extremity of each wing, and there was also a wheel under the tail portion of the machine. A single lever actuated all the controls for steering. With a supporting surface of 150 square feet the machine weighed 946 lbs., about 6.4 lbs. per square foot of lifting surface.
The Curtiss biplane, as flown by Glenn Curtiss at the Rheims meeting, was built with a bamboo framework, stayed by means of very fine steel-stranded cables. A--then--novel feature of the machine was the moving of the ailerons by the pilot leaning to one side or the other in his seat, a light, tubular arm-rest being pressed by his body when he leaned to one side or the other, and thus operating the movement of the ailerons employed for tilting the plane when turning. A steering-wheel fitted immediately in front of the pilot's seat served to operate a rear steering-rudder when the wheel was turned in either direction, while pulling back the wheel altered the inclination of the front elevating planes, and so gave lifting or depressing control of the plane.
This machine ran on three wheels before leaving the ground, a central undercarriage wheel being fitted in front, with two more in line with a right angle line drawn through the centre of the engine crank at the rear end of the crank-case. The engine was a 35 horsepower Vee design, water cooled, with overhead inlet and exhaust valves, and Bosch high-tension magneto ignition. The total weight of the plane in flying order was about 700 lbs.
As great a figure in the early days as either Ferber or Santos-Dumont was Louis Bleriot, who, as early as 1900 built a flapping-wing model, this before ever he came to experimenting with the Voisin biplane type of glider on the Seine. Up to 1906 he had built four biplanes of his own design, and in March of 1907 he built his first monoplane, to wreck it only a few days after completion in an accident from which he had a fortunate escape. His next machine was a double monoplane, designed after Langley's precept, to a certain extent, and this was totally wrecked in September of 1907. His seventh machine, a monoplane, was built within a month of this accident, and with this he had a number of mishaps, also achieving some good flights, including one in which he made a turn. It was wrecked in December of 1907, whereupon he built another monoplane on which, on July 6th, 1908, Bleriot made a flight lasting eight and a half minutes. In October of that year he flew the machine from Toury to Artenay and returned on it--this was just a day after Farman's first cross-country flight--but, trying to repeat the success five days later, Bleriot collided with a tree in a fog and wrecked the machine past repair. Thereupon he set about building his eleventh machine, with which he was to achieve the first flight across the English channel.
Henry Farman, to whom reference has already been made, was engaged with his two brothers, Maurice and Richard, in the motor-car business, and turned to active interest in flying in 1907, when the Voisin firm built his first biplane on the box-kite principle. In July of 1908 he won a prize of L400 for a flight of thirteen miles, previously having completed the first kilometre flown in Europe with a passenger, the said passenger being Ernest Archdeaon. In September of 1908 Farman put up a speed record of forty miles an hour in a flight lasting forty minutes.
Santos-Dumont produced the famous 'Demoiselle' monoplane early in 1909, a tiny machine in which the pilot had his seat in a sort of miniature cage under the main plane. It was a very fast, light little machine but was difficult to fly, and owing to its small wingspread was unable to glide at a reasonably safe angle. There has probably never been a cheaper flying machine to build than the 'Demoiselle,' which could be so upset as to seem completely wrecked, and then repaired ready for further flight by a couple of hours' work. Santos-Dumont retained no patent in the design, but gave it out freely to any one who chose to build 'Demoiselles'; the vogue of the pattern was brief, owing to the difficulty of piloting the machine.
These were the years of records, broken almost as soon as made. There was Farman's mile, there was the flight of the Comte de Lambert over the Eiffel Tower, Latham's flight at Blackpool in a high wind, the Rheims records, and then Henry Farman's flight of four hours later in 1909, Orville Wright's height record of 1,640 feet, and Delagrange's speed record of 49.9 miles per hour. The coming to fame of the Gnome rotary engine helped in the making of these records to a very great extent, for in this engine was a prime mover which gave the reliability that aeroplane builders and pilots had been searching for, but vainly. The Wrights and Glenn Curtiss, of course, had their own designs of engine, but the Gnome, in spite of its lack of economy in fuel and oil, and its high cost, soon came to be regarded as the best power plant for flight.
Delagrange, one of the very good pilots of the early days, provided a curious insight to the way in which flying was regarded, at the opening of the Juvisy aero aerodrome in May of 1909. A huge crowd had gathered for the first day's flying, and nine machines were announced to appear, but only three were brought out. Delagrange made what was considered an indifferent little flight, and another pilot, one De Bischoff, attempted to rise, but could not get his machine off the ground. Thereupon the crowd of 30,000 people lost their tempers, broke down the barriers surrounding the flying course, and hissed the officials, who were quite unable to maintain order. Delagrange, however, saved the situation by making a circuit of the course at a height of thirty feet from the ground, which won him rounds of cheering and restored the crowd to good humour. Possibly the smash achieved by Rougier, the famous racing motorist, who crashed his Voisin biplane after Delagrange had made his circuit, completed the enjoyment of the spectators. Delagrange, flying at Argentan in June of 1909, made a flight of four kilometres at a height of sixty feet; for those days this was a noteworthy performance. Contemporary with this was Hubert Latham's flight of an hour and seven minutes on an Antoinette monoplane; this won the adjective 'magnificent' from contemporary recorders of aviation.
Viewing the work of the little group of French experimenters, it is, at this length of time from their exploits, difficult to see why they carried the art as far as they did. There was in it little of satisfaction, a certain measure of fame, and practically no profit--the giants of those days got very little for their pains. Delagrange's experience at the opening of the Juvisy ground was symptomatic of the way in which flight was regarded by the great mass of people--it was a sport, and nothing more, but a sport without the dividends attaching to professional football or horse-racing. For a brief period, after the Rheims meeting, there was a golden harvest to be reaped by the best of the pilots. Henry Farman asked L2,000 for a week's exhibition flying in England, and Paulhan asked half that sum, but a rapid increase in the number of capable pilots, together with the fact that most flying meetings were financial failures, owing to great expense in organisation and the doubtful factor of the weather, killed this goose before many golden eggs had been gathered in by the star aviators. Besides, as height and distance records were broken one after another, it became less and less necessary to pay for entrance to an aerodrome in order to see a flight--the thing grew too big for a mere sports ground.
Long before Rheims and the meeting there, aviation had grown too big for the chronicling of every individual effort. In that period of the first days of conquest of the air, so much was done by so many whose names are now half-forgotten that it is possible only to pick out the great figures and make brief reference to their achievements and the machines with which they accomplished so much, pausing to note such epoch-making events as the London-Manchester flight, Bleriot's Channel crossing, and the Rheims meeting itself, and then passing on beyond the days of individual records to the time when the machine began to dominate the man. This latter because, in the early days, it was heroism to trust life to the planes that were turned out --the 'Demoiselle' and the Antoinette machine that Latham used in his attempt to fly the Channel are good examples of the flimsiness of early types--while in the later period, that of the war and subsequently, the heroism turned itself in a different--and nobler-direction. Design became standardised, though not perfected. The domination of the machine may best be expressed by contrasting the way in which machines came to be regarded as compared with the men who flew them: up to 1909, flying enthusiasts talked of Farman, of Bleriot, of Paulhan, Curtiss, and of other men; later, they began to talk of the Voisin, the Deperdussin, and even to the Fokker, the Avro, and the Bristol type. With the standardising of the machine, the days of the giants came to an end.
XIII. FIRST FLIERS IN ENGLAND
Certain experiments made in England by Mr Phillips seem to have come near robbing the Wright Brothers of the honour of the first flight; notes made by Colonel J. D. Fullerton on the Phillips flying machine show that in 1893 the first machine was built with a length of 25 feet, breadth of 22 feet, and height of 11 feet, the total weight, including a 72 lb. load, being 420 lbs. The machine was fitted with some fifty wood slats, in place of the single supporting surface of the monoplane or two superposed surfaces of the biplane, these slats being fixed in a steel frame so that the whole machine rather resembled a Venetian blind. A steam engine giving about 9 horse-power provided the motive power for the six-foot diameter propeller which drove the machine. As it was not possible to put a passenger in control as pilot, the machine was attached to a central post by wire guys and run round a circle 100 feet in diameter, the track consisting of wooden planking 4 feet wide. Pressure of air under the slats caused the machine to rise some two or three feet above the track when sufficient velocity had been attained, and the best trials were made on June 19th 1893, when at a speed of 40 miles an hour, with a total load of 385 lbs., all the wheels were off the ground for a distance of 2,000 feet.
In 1904 a full-sized machine was constructed by Mr Phillips, with a total weight, including that of the pilot, of 600 lbs. The machine was designed to lift when it had attained a velocity of 50 feet per second, the motor fitted giving 22 horse-power. On trial, however, the longitudinal equilibrium was found to be defective, and a further design was got out, the third machine being completed in 1907. In this the wood slats were held in four parallel container frames, the weight of the machine, excluding the pilot, being 500 lbs. A motor similar to that used in the 1904 machine was fitted, and the machine was designed to lift at a velocity of about 30 miles an hour, a seven-foot propeller doing the driving. Mr Phillips tried out this machine in a field about 400 yards across. 'The machine was started close to the hedge, and rose from the ground when about 200 yards had been covered. When the machine touched the ground again, about which there could be no doubt, owing to the terrific jolting, it did not run many yards. When it came to rest I was about ten yards from the boundary. Of course, I stopped the engine before I commenced to descend.'[*]
[*] Aeronautical Journal, July, 1908.
S. F. Cody, an American by birth, aroused the attention not only of the British public, but of the War office and Admiralty as well, as early as 1905 with his man-lifting kites. In that year a height of 1,600 feet was reached by one of these box-kites, carrying a man, and later in the same year one Sapper Moreton, of the Balloon Section of the Royal Engineers (the parent of the Royal Flying Corps) remained for an hour at an altitude of 2,600 feet. Following on the success of these kites, Cody constructed an aeroplane which he designated a 'power kite,' which was in reality a biplane that made the first flight in Great Britain. Speaking before the Aeronautical Society in 1908, Cody said that 'I have accomplished one thing that I hoped for very much, that is, to be the first man to fly in Great Britain.... I made a machine that left the ground the first time out; not high, possibly five or six inches only. I might have gone higher if I wished. I made some five flights in all, and the last flight came to grief.... On the morning of the accident I went out after adjusting my propellers at 8 feet pitch running at 600 (revolutions per minute). I think that I flew at about twenty-eight miles per hour. I had 50 horsepower motor power in the engine. A bunch of trees, a flat common above these trees, and from this flat there is a slope goes down... to another clump of trees. Now, these clumps of trees are a quarter of a mile apart or thereabouts.... I was accused of doing nothing but jumping with my machine, so I got a bit agitated and went to fly.
I went out this morning with an easterly wind, and left the ground at the bottom of the hill and struck the ground at the top, a distance of 74 yards. That proved beyond a doubt that the machine would fly--it flew uphill. That was the most talented flight the machine did, in my opinion. Now, I turned round at the top and started the machine and left the ground--remember, a ten mile wind was blowing at the time. Then, 60 yards from where the men let go, the machine went off in this direction (demonstrating)--I make a line now where I hoped to land--to cut these trees off at that side and land right off in here. I got here somewhat excited, and started down and saw these trees right in front of me. I did not want to smash my head rudder to pieces, so I raised it again and went up. I got one wing direct over that clump of trees, the right wing over the trees, the left wing free; the wind, blowing with me, had to lift over these trees. So I consequently got a false lift on the right side and no lift on the left side. Being only about 8 feet from the tree tops, that turned my machine up like that (demonstrating). This end struck the ground shortly after I had passed the trees. I pulled the steering handle over as far as I could. Then I faced another bunch of trees right in front of me. Trying to avoid this second bunch of trees I turned the rudder, and turned it rather sharp. That side of the machine struck, and it crumpled up like so much tissue paper, and the machine spun round and struck the ground that way on, and the framework was considerably wrecked. Now, I want to advise all aviators not to try to fly with the wind and to cross over any big clump of earth or any obstacle of any description unless they go square over the top of it, because the lift is enormous crossing over anything like that, and in coming the other way against the wind it would be the same thing when you arrive at the windward side of the obstacle. That is a point I did not think of, and had I thought of it I would have been more cautious.'
This Cody machine was a biplane with about 40 foot span, the wings being about 7 feet in depth with about 8 feet between upper and lower wing surfaces. 'Attached to the extremities of the lower planes are two small horizontal planes or rudders, while a third small vertical plane is fixed over the centre of the upper plane.' The tail-piece and principal rudder were fitted behind the main body of the machine, and a horizontal rudder plane was rigged out in front, on two supporting arms extending from the centre of the machine. The small end-planes and the vertical plane were used in conjunction with the main rudder when turning to right or left, the inner plane being depressed on the turn, and the outer one correspondingly raised, while the vertical plane, working in conjunction, assisted in preserving stability. Two two-bladed propellers were driven by an eight-cylinder 50 horse-power Antoinette motor. With this machine Cody made his first flights over Laffan's plain, being then definitely attached to the Balloon Section of the Royal Engineers as military aviation specialist.
There were many months of experiment and trial, after the accident which Cody detailed in the statement given above, and then, on May 14th, 1909, Cody took the air and made a flight of 1,200 yards with entire success. Meanwhile A. V. Roe was experimenting at Lea Marshes with a triplane of rather curious design the pilot having his seat between two sets of three superposed planes, of which the front planes could be tilted and twisted while the machine was in motion. He comes but a little way after Cody in the chronology of early British experimenters, but Cody, a born inventor, must be regarded as the pioneer of the present century so far as Britain is concerned. He was neither engineer nor trained mathematician, but he was a good rule-of-thumb mechanic and a man of pluck and perseverance; he never strove to fly on an imperfect machine, but made alteration after alteration in order to find out what was improvement and what was not, in consequence of which it was said of him that he was 'always satisfied with his alterations.'
By July of 1909 he had fitted an 80 horse-power motor to his biplane, and with this he made a flight of over four miles over Laffan's Plain on July 21st. By August he was carrying passengers, the first being Colonel Capper of the R.E. Balloon Section, who flew with Cody for over two miles, and on September 8th, 1909, he made a world's record cross-country flight of over forty miles in sixty-six minutes, taking a course from Laffan's Plain over Farnborough, Rushmoor, and Fleet, and back to Laffan's Plain. He was one of the competitors in the 1909 Doncaster Aviation Meeting, and in 1910 he competed at Wolverhampton, Bournemouth, and Lanark. It was on June 7th, 1910, that he qualified for his brevet, No. 9, on the Cody biplane.
He built a machine which embodied all the improvements for which he had gained experience, in 1911, a biplane with a length of 35 feet and span of 43 feet, known as the 'Cody cathedral' on account of its rather cumbrous appearance. With this, in 1911, he won the two Michelin trophies presented in England, completed the Daily Mail circuit of Britain, won the Michelin cross-country prize in 1912 and altogether, by the end of 1912, had covered more than 7,000 miles with the machine. It was fitted with a 120 horse-power Austro-Daimler engine, and was characterised by an exceptionally wide range of speed--the great wingspread gave a slow landing speed.
A few of his records may be given: in 1910, flying at Laffan's Plain in his biplane, fitted with a 50-60 horsepower Green engine, on December 31st, he broke the records for distance and time by flying 185 miles, 787 yards, in 4 hours 37 minutes. On October 31st, 1911, he beat this record by flying for 5 hours 15 minutes, in which period he covered 261 miles 810 yards with a 60 horse-power Green engine fitted to his biplane. In 1912, competing in the British War office tests of military aeroplanes, he won the L5,000 offered by the War Office. This was in competition with no less than twenty-five other machines, among which were the since-famous Deperdussin, Bristol, Flanders, and Avro types, as well as the Maurice Farman and Bleriot makes of machine. Cody's remarkable speed range was demonstrated in these trials, the speeds of his machine varying between 72.4 and 48.5 miles per hour. The machine was the only one delivered for the trials by air, and during the three hours' test imposed on all competitors a maximum height of 5,000 feet was reached, the first thousand feet being achieved in three and a half minutes.
During the summer of 1913 Cody put his energies into the production of a large hydro-biplane, with which he intended to win the L5,000 prize offered by the Daily Mail to the first aviator to fly round Britain on a waterplane. This machine was fitted with landing gear for its tests, and, while flying it over Laffan's Plain on August 7th, 1913, with Mr W. H. B. Evans as passenger, Cody met with the accident that cost both him and his passenger their lives. Aviation lost a great figure by his death, for his plodding, experimenting, and dogged courage not only won him the fame that came to a few of the pilots of those days, but also advanced the cause of flying very considerably and contributed not a little to the sum of knowledge in regard to design and construction.
Another figure of the early days was A. V. Roe, who came from marine engineering to the motor industry and aviation in 1905. In 1906 he went out to Colorado, getting out drawings for the Davidson helicopter, and in 1907 having returned to England, he obtained highest award out of 200 entries in a model aeroplane flying competition. From the design of this model he built a full-sized machine, and made a first flight on it, fitted with a 24 horse-power Antoinette engine, in June of 1908 Later, he fitted a 9 horsepower motor-cycle engine to a triplane of his own design, and with this made a number of short flights; he got his flying brevet on a triplane with a motor of 35 horse-power, which, together with a second triplane, was entered for the Blackpool aviation meeting of 1910 but was burnt in transport to the meeting. He was responsible for the building of the first seaplane to rise from English waters, and may be counted the pioneer of the tractor type of biplane. In 1913 he built a two-seater tractor biplane with 80 horse-power engine, a machine which for some considerable time ranked as a leader of design. Together with E. V. Roe and H. V. Roe, 'A. V.' controlled the Avro works, which produced some of the most famous training machines of the war period in a modification of the original 80 horse-power tractor. The first of the series of Avro tractors to be adopted by the military authorities was the 1912 biplane, a two-seater fitted with 50 horsepower engine. It was the first tractor biplane with a closed fuselage to be used for military work, and became standard for the type. The Avro seaplane, of I 100 horse-power (a fourteen-cylinder Gnome engine was used) was taken up by the British Admiralty in 1913. It had a length of 34 feet and a wing-span of 50 feet, and was of the twin-float type.
Geoffrey de Havilland, though of later rank, counts high among designers of British machines. He qualified for his brevet as late as February, 1911, on a biplane of his own construction, and became responsible for the design of the BE2, the first successful British Government biplane. On this he made a British height record of 10,500 feet over Salisbury Plain, in August of 1912, when he took up Major Sykes as passenger. In the war period he was one of the principal designers of fighting and reconnaissance machines.
F. Handley Page, who started in business as an aeroplane builder in 1908, having works at Barking, was one of the principal exponents of the inherently stable machine, to which he devoted practically all his experimental work up to the outbreak of war. The experiments were made with various machines, both of monoplane and biplane type, and of these one of the best was a two-seater monoplane built in 1911, while a second was a larger machine, a biplane, built in 1913 and fitted with a 110 horse-power Anzani engine. The war period brought out the giant biplane with which the name of Handley Page is most associated, the twin-engined night-bomber being a familiar feature of the later days of the war; the four-engined bomber had hardly had a chance of proving itself under service conditions when the war came to an end.
Another notable figure of the early period was 'Tommy' Sopwith, who took his flying brevet at Brooklands in November of 1910, and within four days made the British duration record of 108 miles in 3 hours 12 minutes. On December 18th, 1910, he won the Baron de Forrest prize of L4,000 for the longest flight from England to the Continent, flying from Eastchurch to Tirlemont, Belgium, in three hours, a distance of 161 miles. After two years of touring in America, he returned to England and established a flying school. In 1912 he won the first aerial Derby, and in 1913 a machine of his design, a tractor biplane, raised the British height record to 13,000 feet (June 16th, at Brooklands). First as aviator, and then as designer, Sopwith has done much useful work in aviation.
These are but a few, out of a host who contributed to the development of flying in this country, for, although France may be said to have set the pace as regards development, Britain was not far behind. French experimenters received far more Government aid than did the early British aviators and designers--in the early days the two were practically synonymous, and there are many stories of the very early days at Brooklands, where, when funds ran low, the ardent spirits patched their trousers with aeroplane fabric and went on with their work with Bohemian cheeriness. Cody, altering and experimenting on Laffan's Plain, is the greatest figure of them all, but others rank, too, as giants of the early days, before the war brought full recognition of the aeroplane's potentialities.
one of the first men actually to fly in England, Mr J. C. T. Moore-Brabazon, was a famous figure in the days of exhibition flying, and won his reputation mainly through being first to fly a circular mile on a machine designed and built in Great Britain and piloted by a British subject. Moore-Brabazon's earliest flights were made in France on a Voisin biplane in 1908, and he brought this machine over to England, to the Aero Club grounds at Shellness, but soon decided that he would pilot a British machine instead. An order was placed for a Short machine, and this, fitted with a 50-60 horse-power Green engine, was used for the circular mile, which won a prize of L1,000 offered by the Daily Mail, the feat being accomplished on October 30th, 1909. Five days later, Moore-Brabazon achieved the longest flight up to that time accomplished on a British-built machine, covering three and a half miles. In connection with early flying in England, it is claimed that A. V. Roe, flying 'Avro B,',' on June 8th, 1908, was actually the first man to leave the ground, this being at Brooklands, but in point of fact Cody antedated him.
No record of early British fliers could be made without the name of C. S. Rolls, a son of Lord Llangattock, on June 2nd, 1910, he flew across the English Channel to France, until he was duly observed over French territory, when he returned to England without alighting. The trip was made on a Wright biplane, and was the third Channel crossing by air, Bleriot having made the first, and Jacques de Lesseps the second. Rolls was first to make the return journey in one trip. He was eventually killed through the breaking of the tail-plane of his machine in descending at a flying meeting at Bournemouth. The machine was a Wright biplane, but the design of the tail-plane--which, by the way, was an addition to the machine, and was not even sanctioned by the Wrights--appears to have been carelessly executed, and the plane itself was faulty in construction. The breakage caused the machine to overturn, killing Rolls, who was piloting it.
XIV. RHEIMS, AND AFTER
The foregoing brief--and necessarily incomplete--survey of the early British group of fliers has taken us far beyond some of the great events of the early days of successful flight, and it is necessary to go back to certain landmarks in the history of aviation, first of which is the great meeting at Rheims in 1909. Wilbur Wright had come to Europe, and, flying at Le Mans and Pau--it was on August 8th, 1908, that Wilbur Wright made the first of his ascents in Europe--had stimulated public interest in flying in France to a very great degree. Meanwhile, Orville Wright, flying at Fort Meyer, U.S.A., with Lieutenant Selfridge as a passenger, sustained an accident which very nearly cost him his life through the transmission gear of the motor breaking. Selfridge was killed and Orville Wright was severely injured--it was the first fatal accident with a Wright machine.
Orville Wright made a flight of over an hour on September 9th, 1908, and on December 31st of that year Wilbur flew for 2 hours 19 minutes. Thus, when the Rheims meeting was organised--more notable because it was the first of its kind, there were already records waiting to be broken. The great week opened on August 22nd, there being thirty entrants, including all the most famous men among the early fliers in France. Bleriot, fresh from his Channel conquest, was there, together with Henry Farman, Paulhan, Curtiss, Latham, and the Comte de Lambert, first pupil of the Wright machine in Europe to achieve a reputation as an aviator.
'To say that this week marks an epoch in the history of the world is to state a platitude. Nevertheless, it is worth stating, and for us who are lucky enough to be at Rheims during this week there is a solid satisfaction in the idea that we are present at the making of history. In perhaps only a few years to come the competitions of this week may look pathetically small and the distances and speeds may appear paltry. Nevertheless, they are the first of their kind, and that is sufficient.'
So wrote a newspaper correspondent who was present at the famous meeting, and his words may stand, being more than mere journalism; for the great flying week which opened on August 22nd, 1909, ranks as one of the great landmarks in the history of heavier-than-air flight. The day before the opening of the meeting a downpour of rain spoilt the flying ground; Sunday opened with a fairly high wind, and in a lull M. Guffroy turned out on a crimson R.E.P. monoplane, but the wheels of his undercarriage stuck in the mud and prevented him from rising in the quarter of an hour allowed to competitors to get off the ground. Bleriot, following, succeeded in covering one side of the triangular course, but then came down through grit in the carburettor. Latham, following him with thirteen as the number of his machine, experienced his usual bad luck and came to earth through engine trouble after a very short flight. Captain Ferber, who, owing to military regulations, always flew under the name of De Rue, came out next with his Voisin biplane, but failed to get off the ground; he was followed by Lefebvre on a Wright biplane, who achieved the success of the morning by rounding the course--a distance of six and a quarter miles--in nine minutes with a twenty mile an hour wind blowing. His flight finished the morning.
Wind and rain kept competitors out of the air until the evening, when Latham went up, to be followed almost immediately by the Comte de Lambert. Sommer, Cockburn (the only English competitor), Delagrange, Fournier, Lefebvre, Bleriot, Bunau-Varilla, Tissandier, Paulhan, and Ferber turned out after the first two, and the excitement of the spectators at seeing so many machines in the air at one time provoked wild cheering. The only accident of the day came when Bleriot damaged his propeller in colliding with a haycock.
The main results of the day were that the Comte de Lambert flew 30 kilometres in 29 minutes 2 seconds; Lefebvre made the ten-kilometre circle of the track in just a second under 9 minutes, while Tissandier did it in 9 1/4 minutes, and Paulhan reached a height of 230 feet. Small as these results seem to us now, and ridiculous as may seem enthusiasm at the sight of a few machines in the air at the same time, the Rheims Meeting remains a great event, since it proved definitely to the whole world that the conquest of the air had been achieved.
Throughout the week record after record was made and broken. Thus on the Monday, Lefebvre put up a record for rounding the course and Bleriot beat it, to be beaten in turn by Glenn Curtiss on his Curtiss-Herring biplane. On that day, too, Paulhan covered 34 3/4 miles in 1 hour 6 minutes. On the next day, Paulhan on his Voisin biplane took the air with Latham, and Fournier followed, only to smash up his machine by striking an eddy of wind which turned him over several times. On the Thursday, one of the chief events was Latham's 43 miles accomplished in 1 hour 2 minutes in the morning and his 96.5 miles in 2 hours 13 minutes in the afternoon, the latter flight only terminated by running out of petrol. On the Friday, the Colonel Renard French airship, which had flown over the ground under the pilotage of M. Kapfarer, paid Rheims a second visit; Latham manoeuvred round the airship on his Antoinette and finally left it far behind. Henry Farman won the Grand Prix de Champagne on this day, covering 112 miles in 3 hours, 4 minutes, 56 seconds, Latham being second with his 96.5 miles flight, and Paulhan third.
On the Saturday, Glenn Curtiss came to his own, winning the Gordon-Bennett Cup by covering 20 kilometres in 15 minutes 50.6 seconds. Bleriot made a good second with 15 minutes 56.2 seconds as his time, and Latham and Lefebvre were third and fourth. Farman carried off the passenger prize by carrying two passengers a distance of 6 miles in 10 minutes 39 seconds. On the last day Delagrange narrowly escaped serious accident through the bursting of his propeller while in the air, Curtiss made a new speed record by travelling at the rate of over 50 miles an hour, and Latham, rising to 500 feet, won the altitude prize.
These are the cold statistics of the meeting; at this length of time it is difficult to convey any idea of the enthusiasm of the crowds over the achievements of the various competitors, while the incidents of the week, comic and otherwise, are nearly forgotten now even by those present in this making of history. Latham's great flight on the Thursday was rendered a breathless episode by a downpour of rain when he had covered all but a kilometre of the record distance previously achieved by Paulhan, and there was wild enthusiasm when Latham flew on through the rain until he had put up a new record and his petrol had run out. Again, on the Friday afternoon, the Colonel Renard took the air together with a little French dirigible, Zodiac III; Latham was already in the air directly over Farman, who was also flying, and three crows which turned out as rivals to the human aviators received as much cheering for their appearance as had been accorded to the machines, which doubtless they could not understand. Frightened by the cheering, the crows tried to escape from the course, but as they came near the stands, the crowd rose to cheer again and the crows wheeled away to make a second charge towards safety, with the same result; the crowd rose and cheered at them a third and fourth time; between ten and fifteen thousand people stood on chairs and tables and waved hats and handkerchiefs at three ordinary, everyday crows. One thoughtful spectator, having thoroughly enjoyed the funny side of the incident, remarked that the ultimate mastery of the air lies with the machine that comes nearest to natural flight. This still remains for the future to settle.
Farman's world record, which won the Grand Prix de Champagne, was done with a Gnome Rotary Motor which had only been run on the test bench and was fitted to his machine four hours before he started on the great flight. His propeller had never been tested, having only been completed the night before. The closing laps of that flight, extending as they did into the growing of the dusk, made a breathlessly eerie experience for such of the spectators as stayed on to watch--and these were many. Night came on steadily and Farman covered lap after lap just as steadily, a buzzing, circling mechanism with something relentless in its isolated persistency.
The final day of the meeting provided a further record in the quarter million spectators who turned up to witness the close of the great week. Bleriot, turning out in the morning, made a landing in some such fashion as flooded the carburettor and caused it to catch fire. Bleriot himself was badly burned, since the petrol tank burst and, in the end, only the metal parts of the machine were left. Glenn Curtis tried to beat Bleriot's time for a lap of the course, but failed. In the evening, Farman and Latham went out and up in great circles, Farman cleaving his way upward in what at the time counted for a huge machine, on circles of about a mile diameter. His first round took him level with the top of the stands, and, in his second, he circled the captive balloon anchored in the middle of the grounds. After another circle, he came down on a long glide, when Latham's lean Antoinette monoplane went up in circles more graceful than those of Farman. 'Swiftly it rose and swept round close to the balloon, veered round to the hangars, and out over to the Rheims road. Back it came high over the stands, the people craning their necks as the shrill cry of the engine drew nearer and nearer behind the stands. Then of a sudden, the little form appeared away up in the deep twilight blue vault of the sky, heading straight as an arrow for the anchored balloon. Over it, and high, high above it went the Antoinette, seemingly higher by many feet than the Farman machine. Then, wheeling in a long sweep to the left, Latham steered his machine round past the stands, where the people, their nerve-tension released on seeing the machine descending from its perilous height of 500 feet, shouted their frenzied acclamations to the hero of the meeting.
'For certainly "Le Tham," as the French call him, was the popular hero. He always flew high, he always flew well, and his machine was a joy to the eye, either afar off or at close quarters. The public feeling for Bleriot is different. Bleriot, in the popular estimation, is the man who fights against odds, who meets the adverse fates calmly and with good courage, and to whom good luck comes once in a while as a reward for much labour and anguish, bodily and mental. Latham is the darling of the Gods, to whom Fate has only been unkind in the matter of the Channel flight, and only then because the honour belonged to Bleriot.
'Next to these two, the public loved most Lefebvre, the joyous, the gymnastic. Lefebvre was the comedian of the meeting. When things began to flag, the gay little Lefebvre would trot out to his starting rail, out at the back of the judge's enclosure opposite the stands, and after a little twisting of propellers his Wright machine would bounce off the end of its starting rail and proceed to do the most marvellous tricks for the benefit of the crowd, wheeling to right and left, darting up and down, now flying over a troop of the cavalry who kept the plain clear of people and sending their horses into hysterics, anon making straight for an unfortunate photographer who would throw himself and his precious camera flat on the ground to escape annihilation as Lefebvre swept over him 6 or 7 feet off the ground. Lefebvre was great fun, and when he had once found that his machine was not fast enough to compete for speed with the Bleriots, Antoinettes, and Curtiss, he kept to his metier of amusing people. The promoters of the meeting owe Lefebvre a debt of gratitude, for he provided just the necessary comic relief.'--(The Aero, September 7th, 1909.)
It may be noted, in connection with the fact that Cockburn was the only English competitor at the meeting, that the Rheims Meeting did more than anything which had preceded it to waken British interest in aviation. Previously, heavier-than-air flight in England had been regarded as a freak business by the great majority, and the very few pioneers who persevered toward winning England a share in the conquest of the air came in for as much derision as acclamation. Rheims altered this; it taught the world in general, and England in particular, that a serious rival to the dirigible balloon had come to being, and it awakened the thinking portion of the British public to the fact that the aeroplane had a future.
The success of this great meeting brought about a host of imitations of which only a few deserve bare mention since, unlike the first, they taught nothing and achieved little. There was the meeting at Boulogne late in September of 1909, of which the only noteworthy event was Ferber's death. There was a meeting at Brescia where Curtiss again took first prize for speed and Rougier put up a world's height record of 645 feet. The Blackpool meeting followed between 18th and 23rd of October, 1909, forming, with the exception of Doncaster, the first British Flying Meeting. Chief among the competitors were Henry Farman, who took the distance prize, Rougier, Paulhan, and Latham, who, by a flight in a high wind, convinced the British public that the theory that flying was only possible in a calm was a fallacy. A meeting at Doncaster was practically simultaneous with the Blackpool week; Delagrange, Le Blon, Sommer, and Cody were the principal figures in this event. It should be added that 130 miles was recorded as the total flown at Doncaster, while at Blackpool only 115 miles were flown. Then there were Juvisy, the first Parisian meeting, Wolverhampton, and the Comte de Lambert's flight round the Eiffel Tower at a height estimated at between 1,200 and 1,300 feet. This may be included in the record of these aerial theatricals, since it was nothing more.
Probably wakened to realisation of the possibilities of the aeroplane by the Rheims Meeting, Germany turned out its first plane late in 1909. It was known as the Grade monoplane, and was a blend of the Bleriot and Santos-Dumont machines, with a tail suggestive of the Antoinette type. The main frame took the form of a single steel tube, at the forward end of which was rigged a triangular arrangement carrying the pilot's seat and the landing wheels underneath, with the wing warping wires and stays above. The sweep of the wings was rather similar to the later Taube design, though the sweep back was not so pronounced, and the machine was driven by a four-cylinder, 20 horse-power, air-cooled engine which drove a two-bladed tractor propeller. In spite of Lilienthal's pioneer work years before, this was the first power-driven German plane which actually flew.
Eleven months after the Rheims meeting came what may be reckoned the only really notable aviation meeting on English soil, in the form of the Bournemouth week, July 10th to 16th, 1910. This gathering is noteworthy mainly in view of the amazing advance which it registered on the Rheims performances. Thus, in the matter of altitude, Morane reached 4,107 feet and Drexel came second with 2,490 feet. Audemars on a Demoiselle monoplane made a flight of 17 miles 1,480 yards in 27 minutes 17.2 seconds, a great flight for the little Demoiselle. Morane achieved a speed of 56.64 miles per hour, and Grahame White climbed to 1,000 feet altitude in 6 minutes 36.8 seconds. Machines carrying the Gnome engine as power unit took the great bulk of the prizes, and British-built engines were far behind.
The Bournemouth Meeting will always be remembered with regret for the tragedy of C. S. Rolls's death, which took place on the Tuesday, the second day of the meeting. The first competition of the day was that for the landing prize; Grahame White, Audemars, and Captain Dickson had landed with varying luck, and Rolls, following on a Wright machine with a tail-plane which ought never to have been fitted and was not part of the Wright design, came down wind after a left-hand turn and turned left again over the top of the stands in order to land up wind. He began to dive when just clear of the stands, and had dropped to a height of 40 feet when he came over the heads of the people against the barriers. Finding his descent too steep, he pulled back his elevator lever to bring the nose of the machine up, tipping down the front end of the tail to present an almost flat surface to the wind. Had all gone well, the nose of the machine would have been forced up, but the strain on the tail and its four light supports was too great; the tail collapsed, the wind pressed down the biplane elevator, and the machine dived vertically for the remaining 20 feet of the descent, hitting the ground vertically and crumpling up. Major Kennedy, first to reach the debris, found Rolls lying with his head doubled under him on the overturned upper main plane; the lower plane had been flung some few feet away with the engine and tanks under it. Rolls was instantaneously killed by concussion of the brain.
Antithesis to the tragedy was Audemars on his Demoiselle, which was named 'The Infuriated Grasshopper.' Concerning this, it was recorded at the time that 'Nothing so excruciatingly funny as the action of this machine has ever been seen at any aviation ground. The little two-cylinder engine pops away with a sound like the frantic drawing of ginger beer corks; the machine scutters along the ground with its tail well up; then down comes the tail suddenly and seems to slap the ground while the front jumps up, and all the spectators rock with laughter. The whole attitude and the jerky action of the machine suggest a grasshopper in a furious rage, and the impression is intensified when it comes down, as it did twice on Wednesday, in long grass, burying its head in the ground in its temper.'--(The Aero, July, 1910.)
The Lanark Meeting followed in August of the same year, and with the bare mention of this, the subject of flying meetings may he left alone, since they became mere matters of show until there came military competitions such as the Berlin Meeting at the end of August, 1910, and the British War office Trials on Salisbury Plain, when Cody won his greatest triumphs. The Berlin meeting proved that, from the time of the construction of the first successful German machine mentioned above, to the date of the meeting, a good number of German aviators had qualified for flight, but principally on Wright and Antoinette machines, though by that time the Aviatik and Dorner German makes had taken the air. The British War office Trials deserve separate and longer mention.
In 1910 in spite of official discouragement, Captain Dickson proved the value of the aeroplane for scouting purposes by observing movements of troops during the Military Manoeuvres on Salisbury Plain. Lieut. Lancelot Gibbs and Robert Loraine, the actor-aviator, also made flights over the manoeuvre area, locating troops and in a way anticipating the formation and work of the Royal Flying Corps by a usefulness which could not be officially recognised.
XV. THE CHANNEL CROSSING
It may be said that Louis Bleriot was responsible for the second great landmark in the history of successful flight. The day when the brothers Wright succeeded in accomplishing power-driven flight ranks as the first of these landmarks. Ader may or may not have left the ground, but the wreckage of his 'Avion' at the end of his experiment places his doubtful success in a different category from that of the brothers Wright and leaves them the first definite conquerors, just as Bleriot ranks as first definite conqueror of the English Channel by air.
In a way, Louis Bleriot ranks before Farman in point of time; his first flapping-wing model was built as early as 1900, and Voisin flew a biplane glider of his on the Seine in the very early experimental days. Bleriot's first four machines were biplanes, and his fifth, a monoplane, was wrecked almost immediately after its construction. Bleriot had studied Langley's work to a certain extent, and his sixth construction was a double monoplane based on the Langley principle. A month after he had wrecked this without damaging himself-- for Bleriot had as many miraculous escapes as any of the other fliers-he brought out number seven, a fairly average monoplane. It was in December of 1907 after a series of flights that he wrecked this machine, and on its successor, in July of 1908, he made a flight of over 8 minutes. Sundry flights, more or less successful, including the first cross-country flight from Toury to Artenay, kept him busy up to the beginning of November, 1908, when the wreckage in a fog of the machine he was flying sent him to the building of 'number eleven,' the famous cross-channel aeroplane.
Number eleven was shown at the French Aero Show in the Grand Palais and was given its first trials on the 18th January, 1909. It was first fitted with a R.E.P. motor and had a lifting area of 120 square feet, which was later increased to 150 square feet. The framework was of oak and poplar spliced and reinforced with piano wire; the weight of the machine was 47 lbs. and the undercarriage weight a further 60 lbs., this consisting of rubber cord shock absorbers mounted on two wheels. The R.E.P. motor was found unsatisfactory, and a three-cylinder Anzani of 105 mm. bore and 120 mm. stroke replaced it. An accident seriously damaged the machine on June 2nd, but Bleriot repaired it and tested it at Issy, where between June 19th and June 23rd he accomplished flights of 8, 12, 15, 16, and 36 minutes. On July 4th he made a 50-minute flight and on the 13th flew from Etampes to Chevilly.
A few further details of construction may be given: the wings themselves and an elevator at the tail controlled the rate of ascent and descent, while a rudder was also fitted at the tail. The steering lever, working on a universally jointed shaft--forerunner of the modern joystick--controlled both the rudder and the wings, while a pedal actuated the elevator. The engine drove a two-bladed tractor screw of 6 feet 7 inches diameter, and the angle of incidence of the wings was 20 degrees. Timed at Issy, the speed of the machine was given as 36 miles an hour, and as Bleriot accomplished the Channel flight of 20 miles in 37 minutes, he probably had a slight following wind.
The Daily Mail had offered a prize of L1,000 for the first Cross-Channel flight, and Hubert Latham set his mind on winning it. He put up a shelter on the French coast at Sangatte, half-way between Calais and Cape Blanc Nez. From here he made his first attempt to fly to England on Monday the 19th of July. He soared to a fair height, circling, and reached an estimated height of about 900 feet as he came over the water with every appearance of capturing the Cross-Channel prize. The luck which dogged his career throughout was against him, for, after he had covered some 8 miles, his engine stopped and he came down to the water in a series of long glides. It was discovered afterward that a small piece of wire had worked its way into a vital part of the engine to rob Latham of the honour he coveted. The tug that came to his rescue found him seated on the fuselage of his Antoinette, smoking a cigarette and waiting for a boat to take him to the tug. It may be remarked that Latham merely assumed his Antoinette would float in case he failed to make the English coast; he had no actual proof.
Bleriot immediately entered his machine for the prize and took up his quarters at Barraques. On Sunday, July 25th, 1909, shortly after 4 a.m., Bleriot had his machine taken out from its shelter and prepared for flight. He had been recently injured in a petrol explosion and hobbled out on crutches to make his cross-Channel attempt; he made two great circles in the air to try the machine, and then alighted. 'In ten minutes I start for England,' he declared, and at 4.35 the motor was started up. After a run of 100 yards, the machine rose in the air and got a height of about 100 feet over the land, then wheeling sharply seaward and heading for Dover.
Bleriot had no means of telling direction, and any change of wind might have driven him out over the North Sea, to be lost, as were Cecil Grace and Hamel later on. Luck was with him, however, and at 5.12 a.m. of that July Sunday, he made his landing in the North Fall meadow, just behind Dover Castle. Twenty minutes out from the French coast, he lost sight of the destroyer which was patrolling the Channel, and at the same time he was out of sight of land without compass or any other means of ascertaining his direction. Sighting the English coast, he found that he had gone too far to the east, for the wind increased in strength throughout the flight, this to such an extent as almost to turn the machine round when he came over English soil. Profiting by Latham's experience, Bleriot had fitted an inflated rubber cylinder a foot in diameter by 5 feet in length along the middle of his fuselage, to render floating a certainty in case he had to alight on the water.
Latham in his camp at Sangatte had been allowed to sleep through the calm of the early morning through a mistake on the part of a friend, and when his machine was turned out--in order that he might emulate Bleriot, although he no longer hoped to make the first flight, it took so long to get the machine ready and dragged up to its starting-point that there was a 25 mile an hour wind by the time everything was in readiness. Latham was anxious to make the start in spite of the wind, but the Directors of the Antoinette Company refused permission. It was not until two days later that the weather again became favourable, and then with a fresh machine, since the one on which he made his first attempt had been very badly damaged in being towed ashore, he made a circular trial flight of about 5 miles. In landing from this, a side gust of wind drove the nose of the machine against a small hillock, damaging both propeller blades and chassis, and it was not until evening that the damage was repaired.
French torpedo boats were set to mark the route, and Latham set out on his second attempt at six o'clock. Flying at a height of 200 feet, he headed over the torpedo boats for Dover and seemed certain of making the English coast, but a mile and a half out from Dover his engine failed him again, and he dropped to the water to be picked up by the steam pinnace of an English warship and put aboard the French destroyer Escopette.
There is little to choose between the two aviators for courage in attempting what would have been considered a foolhardy feat a year or two before. Bleriot's state, with an abscess in the burnt foot which had to control the elevator of his machine, renders his success all the more remarkable. His machine was exhibited in London for a time, and was afterwards placed in the Conservatoire des Arts et Metiers, while a memorial in stone, copying his monoplane in form, was let into the turf at the point where he landed.
The second Channel crossing was not made until 1910, a year of new records. The altitude record had been lifted to over 10,000 feet, the duration record to 8 hours 12 minutes, and the distance for a single flight to 365 miles, while a speed of over 65 miles an hour had been achieved, when Jacques de Lesseps, son of the famous engineer of Suez Canal and Panama fame, crossed from France to England on a Bleriot monoplane. By this time flying had dropped so far from the marvellous that this second conquest of the Channel aroused but slight public interest in comparison with Bleriot's feat.
The total weight of Bleriot's machine in Cross Channel trim was 660 lbs., including the pilot and sufficient petrol for a three hours' run; at a speed of 37 miles an hour, it was capable of carrying about 5 lbs. per square foot of lifting surface. It was the three-cylinder 25 horse-power Anzani motor which drove the machine for the flight. Shortly after the flight had been accomplished, it was announced that the Bleriot firm would construct similar machines for sale at L400 apiece--a good commentary on the prices of those days.
On June the 2nd, 1910, the third Channel crossing was made by C. S. Rolls, who flew from Dover, got himself officially observed over French soil at Barraques, and then flew back without landing. He was the first to cross from the British side of the Channel and also was the first aviator who made the double journey. By that time, however, distance flights had so far increased as to reduce the value of the feat, and thenceforth the Channel crossing was no exceptional matter. The honour, second only to that of the Wright Brothers, remains with Bleriot.
XVI. LONDON TO MANCHESTER
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. Punch offered a similar sum to the first man who should swim the Atlantic and also for the first flight to Mars and back within a week, but in the spring of 1910 Claude Grahame White and Paulhan, the famous French pilot, entered for the 183 mile run on which the prize depended. Both these competitors flew the Farman biplane with the 50 horse-power Gnome motor as propulsive power. Grahame White surveyed the ground along the route, and the L. & N. W. Railway Company, at his request, whitewashed the sleepers for 100 yards on the north side of all junctions to give him his direction on the course. The machine was run out on to the starting ground at Park Royal and set going at 5.19 a.m. on April 23rd. After a run of 100 yards, the machine went up over Wormwood Scrubs on its journey to Normandy, near Hillmorten, which was the first arranged stopping place en route; Grahame White landed here in good trim at 7.20 a.m., having covered 75 miles and made a world's record cross country flight. At 8.15 he set off again to come down at Whittington, four miles short of Lichfield, at about 9.20, with his machine in good order except for a cracked landing skid. Twice, on this second stage of the journey, he had been caught by gusts of wind which turned the machine fully round toward London, and, when over a wood near Tamworth, the engine stopped through a defect in the balance springs of two exhaust valves; although it started up again after a 100 foot glide, it did not give enough power to give him safety in the gale he was facing. The rising wind kept him on the ground throughout the day, and, though he hoped for better weather, the gale kept up until the Sunday evening. The men in charge of the machine during its halt had attempted to hold the machine down instead of anchoring it with stakes and ropes, and, in consequence of this, the wind blew the machine over on its back, breaking the upper planes and the tail. Grahame White had to return to London, while the damaged machine was prepared for a second flight. The conditions of the competition enacted that the full journey should be completed within 24 hours, which made return to the starting ground inevitable.
Louis Paulhan, who had just arrived with his Farman machine, immediately got it unpacked and put together in order to be ready to make his attempt for the prize as soon as the weather conditions should admit. At 5.31 p.m., on April 27th, he went up from Hendon and had travelled 50 miles when Grahame White, informed of his rival's start, set out to overtake him. Before nightfall Paulhan landed at Lichfield, 117 miles from London, while Grahame White had to come down at Roden, only 60 miles out. The English aviator's chance was not so small as it seemed, for, as Latham had found in his cross-Channel attempts, engine failure was more the rule than the exception, and a very little thing might reverse the relative positions.
A special train accompanied Paulhan along the North-Western route, conveying Madame Paulhan, Henry Farman, and the mechanics who fitted the Farman biplane together. Paulhan himself, who had flown at a height of 1,000 feet, spent the night at Lichfield, starting again at 4.9 a.m. On the 28th, passing Stafford at 4.45, Crewe at 5.20, and landing at Burnage, near Didsbury, at 5.32, having had a clean run.
Meanwhile, Grahame White had made a most heroic attempt to beat his rival. An hour before dawn on the 28th, he went to the small field in which his machine had landed, and in the darkness managed to make an ascent from ground which made starting difficult even in daylight. Purely by instinct and his recollection of the aspect of things the night before, he had to clear telegraph wires and a railway bridge, neither of which he could possibly see at that hour. His engine, too, was faltering, and it was obvious to those who witnessed his start that its note was far from perfect.
At 3.50 he was over Nuneaton and making good progress; between Atherstone and Lichfield the wind caught him and the engine failed more and more, until at 4.13 in the morning he was forced to come to earth, having covered 6 miles less distance than in his first attempt. It was purely a case of engine failure, for, with full power, he would have passed over Paulhan just as the latter was preparing for the restart. Taking into consideration the two machines, there is little doubt that Grahame White showed the greater flying skill, although he lost the prize. After landing and hearing of Paulhan's victory, on which he wired congratulations, he made up his mind to fly to Manchester within the 24 hours. He started at 5 o'clock in the afternoon from Polesworth, his landing place, but was forced to land at 5.30 at Whittington, where he had landed on the previous Saturday. The wind, which had forced his descent, fell again and permitted of starting once more; on this third stage he reached Lichfield, only to make his final landing at 7.15 p.m., near the Trent Valley station. The defective running of the Gnome engine prevented his completing the course, and his Farman machine had to be brought back to London by rail.
The presentation of the prize to Paulhan was made the occasion for the announcement of a further competition, consisting of a 1,000 mile flight round a part of Great Britain. In this, nineteen competitors started, and only four finished; the end of the race was a great fight between Beaumont and Vedrines, both of whom scorned weather conditions in their determination to win. Beaumont made the distance in a flying time of 22 hours 28 minutes 19 seconds, and Vedrines covered the journey in a little over 23 1/2 hours. Valentine came third on a Deperdussin monoplane and S. F. Cody on his Cathedral biplane was fourth. This was in 1911, and by that time heavier-than-air flight had so far advanced that some pilots had had war experience in the Italian campaign in Tripoli, while long cross-country flights were an everyday event, and bad weather no longer counted.
XVII. A SUMMARY, TO 1911
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. On October 4th of the same year, Wright flew 20.75 miles in 33 minutes 17 seconds, this being the first flight of over 20 miles ever made. Then on September 14th 1906, Alberto Santos-Dumont made a flight of eight seconds on the second heavier-than-air machine he had constructed. It was a big box-kite-like machine; this was the second power-driven aeroplane in Europe to fly, for although Santos-Dumont's first machine produced in 1905 was reckoned an unsuccessful design, it had actually got off the ground for brief periods. Louis Bleriot came into the ring on April 5th, 1907, with a first flight of 6 seconds on a Bleriot monoplane, his eighth but first successful construction.
Henry Farman made his first appearance in the history of aviation with a flight of 935 feet on a Voisin biplane on October 15th 1907. On October 25th, in a flight of 2,530 feet, he made the first recorded turn in the air, and on March 29th, 1908, carrying Leon Delagrange on a Voisin biplane, he made the first passenger flight. On April 10th of this year, Delagrange, in flying 1 1/2 miles, made the first flight in Europe exceeding a mile in distance. He improved on this by flying 10 1/2 miles at Milan on June 22nd, while on July 8th, at Turin, he took up Madame Peltier, the first woman to make an aeroplane flight.
Wilbur Wright, coming over to Europe, made his first appearance on the Continent with a flight of 1 3/4 minutes at Hunaudieres, France, on August 8th, 1908. On September 6th, at Chalons, he flew for 1 hour 4 minutes 26 seconds with a passenger, this being the first flight in which an hour in the air was exceeded with a passenger on board.
on September 12th 1908, Orville Wright, flying at Fort Meyer, U.S.A., with Lieut. Selfridge as passenger, crashed his machine, suffering severe injuries, while Selfridge was killed. This was the first aeroplane fatality. On October 30th, 1908, Farman made the first cross-country flight, covering the distance of 17 miles between Bouy and Rheims. The next day, Louis Bleriot, in flying from Toury to Artenay, made two landings en route, this being the first cross-country flight with landings. On the last day of the year, Wilbur Wright won the Michelin Cup at Auvours with a flight of 90 miles, which, lasting 2 hours 20 minutes 23 seconds, exceeded 2 hours in the air for the first time.
On January 2nd, 1909, S. F. Cody opened the New Year by making the first observed flight at Farnborough on a British Army aeroplane. It was not until July 18th of 1909 that the first European height record deserving of mention was put up by Paulhan, who achieved a height of 450 feet on a Voisin biplane. This preceded Latham's first attempt to fly the Channel by two days, and five days later, on the 25th of the month, Bleriot made the first Channel crossing. The Rheims Meeting followed on August 22nd, and it was a great day for aviation when nine machines were seen in the air at once. It was here that Farman, with a 118 mile flight, first exceeded the hundred miles, and Latham raised the height record officially to 500 feet, though actually he claimed to have reached 1,200 feet. On September 8th, Cody, flying from Aldershot, made a 40 mile journey, setting up a new cross-country record. On October 19th the Comte de Lambert flew from Juvisy to Paris, rounded the Eiffel Tower and flew back. J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon made the first circular mile flight by a British aviator on an all-British machine in Great Britain, on October 30th, flying a Short biplane with a Green engine. Paulhan, flying at Brooklands on November 2nd, accomplished 96 miles in 2 hours 48 minutes, creating a British distance record; on the following day, Henry Farman made a flight of 150 miles in 4 hours 22 minutes at Mourmelon, and on the 5th of the month, Paulhan, flying a Farman biplane, made a world's height record of 977 feet. This, however, was not to stand long, for Latham got up to 1,560 feet on an Antoinette at Mourmelon on December 1st. December 31st witnessed the first flight in Ireland, made by H. Ferguson on a monoplane which he himself had constructed at Downshire Park, Lisburn.
These, thus briefly summarised, are the principal events up to the end of 1909. 1910 opened with tragedy, for on January 4th Leon Delagrange, one of the greatest pilots of his time, was killed while flying at Pau. The machine was the Bleriot XI which Delagrange had used at the Doncaster meeting, and to which Delagrange had fitted a 50 horse-power Gnome engine, increasing the speed of the machine from its original 30 to 45 miles per hour. With the Rotary Gnome engine there was of necessity a certain gyroscopic effect, the strain of which proved too much for the machine. Delagrange had come to assist in the inauguration of the Croix d'Hins aerodrome, and had twice lapped the course at a height of about 60 feet. At the beginning of the third lap, the strain of the Gnome engine became too great for the machine; one wing collapsed as if the stay wires had broken, and the whole machine turned over and fell, killing Delagrange.
On January 7th Latham, flying at Mourmelon, first made the vertical kilometre and dedicated the record to Delagrange, this being the day of his friend's funeral. The record was thoroughly authenticated by a large registering barometer which Latham carried, certified by the officials of the French Aero Club. Three days later Paulhan, who was at Los Angeles, California, raised the height record to 4,146 feet.
On January 25th the Brussels Exhibition opened, when the Antoinette monoplane, the Gaffaux and Hanriot monoplanes, together with the d'Hespel aeroplane, were shown; there were also the dirigible Belgica and a number of interesting aero engines, including a German airship engine and a four-cylinder 50 horse-power Miesse, this last air-cooled by means of 22 fans driving a current of air through air jackets surrounding fluted cylinders.
On April 2nd Hubert Le Blon, flying a Bleriot with an Anzani engine, was killed while flying over the water. His machine was flying quite steadily, when it suddenly heeled over and came down sideways into the sea; the motor continued running for some seconds and the whole machine was drawn under water. When boats reached the spot, Le Blon was found lying back in the driving seat floating just below the surface. He had done good flying at Doncaster, and at Heliopolis had broken the world's speed records for 5 and 10 kilometres. The accident was attributed to fracture of one of the wing stay wires when running into a gust of wind.
The next notable event was Paulhan's London-Manchester flight, of which full details have already been given. In May Captain Bertram Dickson, flying at the Tours meeting, beat all the Continental fliers whom he encountered, including Chavez, the Peruvian, who later made the first crossing of the Alps. Dickson was the first British winner of international aviation prizes.
C. S. Rolls, of whom full details have already been given, was killed at Bournemouth on July 12th, being the first British aviator of note to be killed in an aeroplane accident. His return trip across the Channel had taken place on June 2nd. Chavez, who was rapidly leaping into fame, as a pilot, raised the British height record to 5,750 feet while flying at Blackpool on August 3rd. On the 11th of that month, Armstrong Drexel, flying a Bleriot, made a world's height record of 6,745 feet.
It was in 1910 that the British War office first began fully to realise that there might be military possibilities in heavier-than-air flying. C. S. Rolls had placed a Wright biplane at the disposal of the military authorities, and Cody, as already recorded, had been experimenting with a biplane type of his own for some long period. Such development as was achieved was mainly due to the enterprise and energy of Colonel J. E. Capper, C.B., appointed to the superintendency of the Balloon Factory and Balloon School at Farnborough in 1906. Colonel Capper's retirement in 1910 brought (then) Mr Mervyn O'Gorman to command, and by that time the series of successes of the Cody biplane, together with the proved efficiency of the aeroplane in various civilian meetings, had convinced the British military authorities that the mastery of the air did not lie altogether with dirigible airships, and it may be said that in 1910 the British War office first began seriously to consider the possibilities of the aeroplane, though two years more were to elapse before the formation of the Royal Flying Corps marked full realisation of its value.
A triumph and a tragedy were combined in September of 1910. On the 23rd of the month, Georges Chavez set out to fly across the Alps on a Bleriot monoplane. Prizes had been offered by the Milan Aviation Committee for a flight from Brigue in Switzerland over the Simplon Pass to Milan, a distance of 94 miles with a minimum height of 6,600 feet above sea level. Chavez started at 1.30 p.m. On the 23rd, and 41 minutes later he reached Domodossola, 25 miles distant. Here he descended, numbed with the cold of the journey; it was said that the wings of his machine collapsed when about 30 feet from the ground, but however this may have been, he smashed the machine on landing, and broke both legs, in addition to sustaining other serious injuries. He lay in hospital until the 27th September, when he died, having given his life to the conquest of the Alps. His death in the moment of success was as great a tragedy as were those of Pilcher and Lilienthal.
The day after Chavez's death, Maurice Tabuteau flew across the Pyrenees, landing in the square at Biarritz. On December 30th, Tabuteau made a flight of 365 miles in 7 hours 48 minutes. Farman, on December 18th, had flown for over 8 hours, but his total distance was only 282 miles. The autumn of this year was also noteworthy for the fact that aeroplanes were first successfully used in the French Military Manoeuvres. The British War Office, by the end of the year, had bought two machines, a military type Farman and a Paulhan, ignoring British experimenters and aeroplane builders of proved reliability. These machines, added to an old Bleriot two-seater, appear to have constituted the British aeroplane fleet of the period.
There were by this time three main centres of aviation in England, apart from Cody, alone on Laffan's Plain. These three were Brooklands, Hendon, and the Isle of Sheppey, and of the three Brooklands was chief. Here such men as Graham Gilmour, Rippen, Leake, Wickham, and Thomas persistently experimented. Hendon had its own little group, and Shellbeach, Isle of Sheppey, held such giants of those days as C. S. Rolls and Moore Brabazon, together with Cecil Grace and Rawlinson. One or other, and sometimes all of these were deserted on the occasion of some meeting or other, but they were the points where the spade work was done, Brooklands taking chief place. 'If you want the early history of flying in England, it is there,' one of the early school remarked, pointing over toward Brooklands course.
1911 inaugurated a new series of records of varying character. On the 17th January, E. B. Ely, an American, flew from the shore of San Francisco to the U.S. cruiser Pennsylvania, landing on the cruiser, and then flew back to the shore. The British military designing of aeroplanes had been taken up at Farnborough by G. H. de Havilland, who by the end of January was flying a machine of his own design, when he narrowly escaped becoming a casualty through collision with an obstacle on the ground, which swept the undercarriage from his machine.
A list of certified pilots of the countries of the world was issued early in 1911, showing certificates granted up to the end of 1910. France led the way easily with 353 pilots; England came next with 57, and Germany next with 46; Italy owned 32, Belgium 27, America 26, and Austria 19; Holland and Switzerland had 6 aviators apiece, while Denmark followed with 3, Spain with 2, and Sweden with 1. The first certificate in England was that of J. T. C. Moore-Brabazon, while Louis Bleriot was first on the French list and Glenn Curtiss, first holder of an American certificate, also held the second French brevet.
On the 7th March, Eugene Renaux won the Michelin Grand Prize by flying from the French Aero Club ground at St Cloud and landing on the Puy de Dome. The landing, which was one of the conditions of the prize, was one of the most dangerous conditions ever attached to a competition; it involved dropping on to a little plateau 150 yards square, with a possibility of either smashing the machine against the face of the mountain, or diving over the edge of the plateau into the gulf beneath. The length of the journey was slightly over 200 miles and the height of the landing point 1,465 metres, or roughly 4,500 feet above sea-level. Renaux carried a passenger, Doctor Senoucque, a member of Charcot's South Polar Expedition.
The 1911 Aero Exhibition held at Olympia bore witness to the enormous strides made in construction, more especially by British designers, between 1908 and the opening of the Show. The Bristol Firm showed three machines, including a military biplane, and the first British built biplane with tractor screw. The Cody biplane, with its enormous size rendering it a prominent feature of the show, was exhibited. Its designer anticipated later engines by expressing his desire for a motor of 150 horse-power, which in his opinion was necessary to get the best results from the machine. The then famous Dunne monoplane was exhibited at this show, its planes being V-shaped in plan, with apex leading. It embodied the results of very lengthy experiments carried out both with gliders and power-driven machines by Colonel Capper, Lieut. Gibbs, and Lieut. Dunne, and constituted the longest step so far taken in the direction of inherent stability.
Such forerunners of the notable planes of the war period as the Martin Handasyde, the Nieuport, Sopwith, Bristol, and Farman machines, were features of the show; the Handley-Page monoplane, with a span of 32 feet over all, a length of 22 feet, and a weight of 422 lbs., bore no relation at all to the twin-engined giant which later made this firm famous. In the matter of engines, the principal survivals to the present day, of which this show held specimens, were the Gnome, Green, Renault air-cooled, Mercedes four-cylinder dirigible engine of 115 horse-power, and 120 horsepower Wolseley of eight cylinders for use with dirigibles.
On April 12th, of 1911, Paprier, instructor at the Bleriot school at Hendon, made the first non-stop flight between London and Paris. He left the aerodrome at 1.37 p.m., and arrived at Issy-les-Moulineaux at 5.33 p.m., thus travelling 250 miles in a little under 4 hours. He followed the railway route practically throughout, crossing from Dover to nearly opposite Calais, keeping along the coast to Boulogne, and then following the Nord Railway to Amiens, Beauvais, and finally Paris.
In May, the Paris-Madrid race took place; Vedrines, flying a Morane biplane, carried off the prize by first completing the distance of 732 miles. The Paris-Rome race of 916 miles was won in the same month by Beaumont, flying a Bleriot monoplane. In July, Koenig won the German National Circuit race of 1,168 miles on an Albatross biplane. This was practically simultaneous with the Circuit of Britain won by Beaumont, who covered 1,010 miles on a Bleriot monoplane, having already won the Paris-Brussels-London-Paris Circuit of 1,080 miles, this also on a Bleriot. It was in August that a new world's height record of 11,152 feet was set up by Captain Felix at Etampes, while on the 7th of the month Renaux flew nearly 600 miles on a Maurice Farman machine in 12 hours. Cody and Valentine were keeping interest alive in the Circuit of Britain race, although this had long been won, by determinedly plodding on at finishing the course.
On September 9th, the first aerial post was tried between Hendon and Windsor, as an experiment in sending mails by aeroplane. Gustave Hamel flew from Hendon to Windsor and back in a strong wind. A few days later, Hamel went on strike, refusing to carry further mails unless the promoters of the Aerial Postal Service agreed to pay compensation to Hubert, who fractured both his legs on the 11th of the month while engaged in aero postal work. The strike ended on September 25th, when Hamel resumed mail-carrying in consequence of the capitulation of the Postmaster-General, who agreed to set aside L500 as compensation to Hubert.
September also witnessed the completion in America of a flight across the Continent, a distance of 2,600 miles. The only competitor who completed the full distance was C. P. Rogers, who was disqualified through failing to comply with the time limit. Rogers needed so many replacements to his machine on the journey that, expressing it in American fashion, he arrived with practically a dfferent aeroplane from that with which he started.
With regard to the aerial postal service, analysis of the matter carried and the cost of the service seemed to show that with a special charge of one shilling for letters and sixpence for post cards, the revenue just balanced the expenditure. It was not possible to keep to the time-table as, although the trials were made in the most favourable season of the year, aviation was not sufficiently advanced to admit of facing all weathers and complying with time-table regulations.
French military aeroplane trials took place at Rheims in October, the noteworthy machines being Antoinette, Farman, Nieuport, and Deperdussin. The tests showed the Nieuport monoplane with Gnome motor as first in position; the Breguet biplane was second, and the Deperdussin monoplanes third. The first five machines in order of merit were all engined with the Gnome motor.
The records quoted for 1911 form the best evidence that can be given of advance in design and performance during the year. It will be seen that the days of the giants were over; design was becoming more and more standardised and aviation not so much a matter of individual courage and even daring, as of the reliability of the machine and its engine. This was the first year in which the twin-engined aeroplane made its appearance, and it was the year, too, in which flying may be said to have grown so common that the 'meetings' which began with Rheims were hardly worth holding, owing to the fact that increase in height and distance flown rendered it no longer necessary for a would-be spectator of a flight to pay half a crown and enter an enclosure. Henceforth, flying as a spectacle was very little to be considered; its commercial aspects were talked of, and to a very slight degree exploited, but, more and more, the fact that the aeroplane was primarily an engine of war, and the growing German menace against the peace of the world combined to point the way of speediest development, and the arrangements for the British Military Trials to be held in August, 1912, showed that even the British War office was waking up to the potentialities of this new engine of war.
- Fortsetzung: XVIII. A SUMMARY--TO 1914
- Part I--THE EVOLUTION OF THE AEROPLANE
- I. THE PERIOD OF LEGEND
- II. EARLY EXPERIMENTS
- III. SIR GEORGE CAYLEY--THOMAS WALKER
- IV. THE MIDDLE NINETEENTH CENTURY
- V. WENHAM, LE BRIS, AND SOME OTHERS
- VI. THE AGE OF THE GIANTS
- VII. LILIENTHAL AND PILCHER
- VIII. AMERICAN GLIDING EXPERIMENTS
- IX. NOT PROVEN
- X. SAMUEL PIERPOINT LANGLEY
- XI. THE WRIGHT BROTHERS
- XII. THE FIRST YEARS OF CONQUEST
- XIII. FIRST FLIERS IN ENGLAND
- XIV. RHEIMS, AND AFTER
- XV. THE CHANNEL CROSSING
- XVI. LONDON TO MANCHESTER
- XVII. A SUMMARY--TO 1911
- XVIII. A SUMMARY--TO 1914
- XIX. THE WAR PERIOD--I
- XX. THE WAR PERIOD--II
- XXI. RECONSTRUCTION
- XXII. 1919-1920
- Part II--1903-1920: PROGRESS IN DESIGN
- I. THE BEGINNINGS
- II. MULTIPLICITY OF IDEAS
- III. PROGRESS ON STANDARDISED LINES
- IV. THE WAR PERIOD
- Part III--AEROSTATICS
- I. BEGINNINGS
- II. THE FIRST DIRIGIBLES
- III. SANTOS-DUMONT
- IV. THE MILITARY DIRIGIBLE
- V. BRITISH AIRSHIP DESIGN
- VI. THE AIRSHIP COMMERCIALLY
- VII. KITE BALLOONS
- PART IV--ENGINE DEVELOPMENT
- I. THE VERTICAL TYPE
- II. THE VEE TYPE
- III. THE RADIAL TYPE
- IV. THE ROTARY TYPE
- V. THE HORIZONTALLY-OPPOSED ENGINE
- VI. THE TWO-STROKE CYCLE ENGINE
- VII. ENGINES OF THE WAR PERIOD