THE LENGTH OF OUR VOYAGE
there is perpetual snow, and yet climbers of mountains have gone up even higher than aeroplanes have gone. But I am sure you are much more interested in aeroplanes, because to go in one seems more like leaving the Earth behind; whilst we are on a mountain we are still touching the Earth. Aeroplanes are becoming so common that we have nearly forgotten how hard it was to invent them, and who did the early pioneer work which led to the invention. Who first thought of the name "aeroplane"? When you want to find out a thing like that, one good way is to look in the dictionary: and I hope you all look in the dictionary when you want to find out things, instead of bothering other people with questions which they cannot answer. But if one wants to be sure of getting the right answer, an even better way is to bother the man who makes the dictionary: and we are fortunate enough to have in Oxford Sir James Murray, who is making a very big dictionary, and who was able to tell me a curious thing about aeroplanes. First of all, the word means a plane used for experiments on air. That is the way he has defined it in his dictionary, of which the letter A was published in 1888 (though they have not yet got to Z!). He says the word was then used in England to mean "a plane placed in the air for aerostatistical experiments." But he also says that "aeroplane" was used in France in quite a different way; plane meaning there not a plane surface at all, but a thing which soars. Those who know French will know that they use the word "planer" to mean soaring
- Sir James Murray died while this book was in the press.