International Herald Tribune/1901/M. Santos-Dumont solves the problem of aerial navigation

M. Santos-Dumont solves the problem of aerial navigation (1901)
2828627M. Santos-Dumont solves the problem of aerial navigation1901


He Makes the Circuit of Longchamp Racecourse at 40 Kilomètres

an Hour, Descends, Rises Again, Sweeps Over to Puteaux,

Comes Back and Goes Round the Eiffel Tower.


M. Emmanuel Aimé Describes the Successful Trial for the "Herald" and Pronounces It the Most Important Development in Aerial Navigation that Has Ever Taken Place.

There, is scarcely room for even the shadow of a doubt that M. Santos-Dumont has definitively solved the problem of aerial navigation.

During a couple of hours yesterday morning he conclusively proved this by steering his new "aeronef," the Santos-Dumont V., through the air in every direction, north, south, east and west, turning to right, to left, wheeling round in wide circles above the Bois de Boulogne and finally sailing off to the Eiffel Tower, near which a trifling accident to the rudder necessitated a momentary descent.

The accident only showed more unrnistakably the practical utility of M. Santos-Dumont's astounding invention. The air-ship came to earth as easily and lightly as a bird, and when the defective steering rope connected with the rudder had been repaired, it ascended again, made a complete turn upon itself and returned to its starting point, the Pare d'Aérostation at Saint-Cloud.

Kept Very Secret.

M. Santos-Dumont had kept very secret his intention of making an ascent.

"It was impossible to fix the day or hour beforehand," he said to me last evening at the Aero-Club, in the rue du Colisée, an association that does a vast amount of practical and invaluable work to advance ballooning in France.

"Perfect weather was desirable for a first experiment. I have slept at the Pare d'Aérostation for the past two nights, so that I might be ready to go up at the first favorable moment. Wednesday night was unsettled, and even last night a storm, luckiiy of brief duration, threatened to make a postponement of the ascent inevitable.

"However, it quickly blew over and a dead calm set in. So I decided to make the ascent. My balloon was got out of the shed, and shortly after three o'clock tho trial began. -

"It appears," he added, with characteristic modesty, "that it was successful."

If M. Santos-Dumont was content with merely expressing his satisfaction with the results of the experimental ascent, M. Emmanuel Aimé, the distinguished professor of sciences and mathematics and; secretary of the Aero-Club, was wildly enthusiastic.

"It is marvellous!" he exclaimed again and again. "It is the one practical, really practical attempt to make a dirige-able "balloon that has been an unqualified success."

M. Aime's Views.

M. Aimé is accepted all the world over as an authority on aerostation, and his opinion on yesterday's trial is consequently of the greatest value. This is what lie was good enough to write, for the Herald: —

"During the past fifteen years no one in France, with the exception of M. Santos-Dumont, who came direct from San Paolo to Paris for the express purpose, has made an ascent in a really steerable balloon, that is to say, in a balloon provided with a motor and a propeller.

"Thanks to the perseverance and tireless activity of M. Santos-Dumont, who is the first to utilize in aerial navigation the light motor used in the automobile, a practical solution of this stupendous problem has just been found.

"To do so, to create what may now be called the art of aeronautics, nothing less than the experience, the practice, and the remarkably cool judgment and self-possession of a Santos-Dumont was absolutely necessary. For it did not suffice to, build a navigable balloon. A more difficult thing was to make an ascent in it..."

A certain irony peeps out in this observation in view of the numbers of "sterable balloons" that one hears of as being constructed all over the world, but which never seem to pass the constructive stage!

The Value of the Man.

"From this point of view," continued M. Aimé, "the value of the man acids so materially to the value of his system that it was not hazarding too much to predict boldly the decisive success that crowned M. Santos-Dumont's trial trip yesterday.

"In Henry Giffard's balloon each horsepower meant a weight of not less than 10k.; in M. Santos-Dumont's it does not surpass 6k.

"The balloon with which the experienced aeronaut experimented this morning is the fifth of the series that he has constructed, each carrying out, in a more highly developed form, the idea that forms the basis of M. Santos-Dumont's system.

"Its principal characteristics are: Volume, 550 cubic mètres; diameter, 6 mètres; length, 34 mètres; a 4-cylindered petroleum motor of 16 horse-power; a propeller screw, measuring 4 mètres from blade-edge to blade-edge, and making 200 revolutions per minute; and with a traction power, measured by the dynamometer, of 80 kilos.

"The machine is supported by a triangular framework, made of aluminium-strengthened pine, measuring 18 mètres in length. It is formed of three curvilinear scantlings bound together, and jointed, with aluminium, united by wooden coss-pieces and solidified by an ingenious network of piano-wire.

"At 7 mètres distance from one extremity of the framework, in the centre of the triangular section, the motor is suspended by means of piano-wire that causes it to bear a vague resemblance to a gigantic spider in its web.

Basketwork Car.

"At a distance of 7 mètres from the other extremity is situated the little basket-work car in which the aeronaut takes his place and where he commands the arrangements for lighting the motor, for starting the screw propeller, for working the rudder, controlling the escape valves and regulating the displacement of the guide-rope from 'bow' to 'stern,' if I may use the terms, by means of fine cords.

"This displacement of the guide-rope is designed to incline the balloon in the direction that may be required for the ascent or descent.

"The framework, with its motor and the aeronaut's car, is suspended from the balloon by steel wires of such tenuity that they are invisible at, a distance of 50 mètres in the air.

"At three o'clock this morning the balloon was guided, during a period of perfect calm, from the Pare d'Aerostation at Saint-Cloud to the Longchamp racecourse, and was given its final touches in the presence of M. Georgo Besançon, director of the "Aérophile," the organ of the Aero-Club and of French aerostation; M. Gustave Hermite. several officers from Versailles and Mont Valérien and myself.

"The words 'Let go!' were uttered by M. Santos-Dumont, who was alone in the car of his balloon, a car that is so tiny that there is not room in it for, an aeronaut much bigger than its designer.

"The words were the signal for the commencement of a series of experiments of the most conclusive character, which surpassed in importance any that have been made since the days of Montgolfier to the present time.

"Six consecutive times the aeronaut made the complete circuit of the Long-champ racecourse, 3,600 mètres!

"It was proved that the airship has an average speed of forty kilomètres the hour; that it answered the rudder with the most perfect and obedient docility, that the problem of landing was solved each voyage round the racecourse, rigorously ending with a descent at the spot in the pelouse indicated beforehand.

Mathematical Precision.

"It returned time and time again to a previously designated spot just before the tribunes with such mathematical precision that the aeronaut might, if he chose, add a most interesting and novel attraction to the review on the 14th of July!

"When M. Santos-Dumont had accomplished all these evolutions, he turned the head of his balloon in the direction of Puteaux, sailed off to that place, then turned round sharply and came back to the starting-point before the tribunes.

"After taking in a fresh supply of petroleum, he made off towards the Eiffel Tower, and reached it, a distance of five kilomètres, in ten minutes.

"While over the Champ de Mars a slight accident to the rudder compelled M. Santos-Dumont to come down in the Trocadéro Gardens. A tall ladder was very obligingly brought by some workmen, and M. Santos-Dumont climbed up it to repair the defective part.

"When this had been done, he started off again, swept completely round the Eiffel Tower, and came back at breakneck speed to the tribunes on the Longchamp racocourse, in order to reassure his friends who were alarmed at his long disappearance. Including the stoppage, the voyage lasted one hour and six minutes.

"After a little rest, M. Santos-Dumont started off towards the rising slope behind Longchamp, crossed the Seine at an altitude of 200 mètres, and brought back his airship to its home port, the Pare d'Aerostation of the Aero-Club.

"The miraculous part of the experiments is that during the entire course of the journeying backwards and forwards, with the numerous ascents and landings, M. Santos-Dumont did not employ a single pinch of ballast to guarantee his equilibrium, and yet remained as completely master of his altitude as he was of his course. He remained at a height of between 100 and 270 mètres by the inclination of the axes of the balloon and the propulsion of the screw.

"It was marvellous, amazing, wonderful, I tell you," M. Aimé repeated again and again, "and only a man uniting such a rare combination of qualities as does M. Santos-Dumont could have won the great triumph that he did yesterday."

If the weather is propitious, M. Santos-Dumont will try to carry off the Grand Prix do L'Aero-Club this morning at six o'clock, ' by accomplishing the journey from the Pare d'Aerostation to the Tour Eiffel and back without stoppage in half an hour.


The conditions governing the competition for the prize founded by M. Henry Deutsch are, briefly, that aeronauts shall start from the Aero-Club grounds, in the Bois de Boulogne, and steer their balloons round the Eiffel Tower and return teethe starting point in less than half an hour.

Twenty-four hours' notice in advance must be given to the scientific committee of the club by any competitor of his intention to start for the prize.

This work was published in 1901 and is anonymous or pseudonymous due to unknown authorship. It is in the public domain in the United States as well as countries and areas where the copyright terms of anonymous or pseudonymous works are 122 years or less since publication.

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