Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/473

This page has been proofread, but needs to be validated.

proved to be perfect, and the power, supporting surface, guiding and equilibrium-preserving effects of the rudder also. The weight of the model was 58 pounds, its sustaining surface 66 square feet, and the horsepower from 212 to 3.

This was the first time in history, so far as I know, that a successful flight of a mechanically sustained flying machine was made in public.

The flight was not as long as had been expected, as it was found afterwards that one of the workmen, in his zeal to insure an especially good one, had overfilled the gasoline tank, which would otherwise have enabled a flight several times as long. However, as such a flight would have given absolutely no more data than the short one did. and as the delays in getting ready for testing the large machine had already far exceeded what was expected, it was thought best not to make any more tests with the small one, as all of the data which were desired had been procured, and it was accordingly stored away and every energy immediately concentrated in getting the large machine ready for its first test, which at that time seemed only a few days away.

During all these delays it may be remarked that we necessarily resided near the house boat, and therefore in a region of malaria, from whose attacks a portion of us suffered.

I have spoken of the serious delays in the test of the small machine caused by changed atmospheric conditions, but they proved to be almost negligible compared with what was later experienced with the large one. I have also alluded to the fact that the necessarily light ribs of the large sustaining wing surfaces were covered with several coats of a special marine varnish which many tests had shown enabled the glue to withstand submersion in water for more than twenty-four hours without being affected. This water test was made with a view to guarding against the joints of the ribs being softened when the machine came down into the water, as it was planned for it to do at the close of its flight, and these submersions had apparently shown that no trouble need be anticipated from the effects of the sustaining surfaces getting wet. It is an instance of the unpredictable delays which present themselves, that when preparations had been begun for the immediate trial of the large machine, already down the river, it was found that every one of the cross ribs had been rendered almost useless by the damp, though under shelter. As it would take months to build new ones, a temporary means of repairing them was used. There were other delays too numerous to mention, but chiefly incident to working over the water, some of the principal of which were due to storms dragging the house boat from its moorings and destroying auxiliary apparatus, such as launches, boats, rafts, etc., to say nothing of the time consumed in bringing workmen to and from the scene of