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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/474

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470
THE POPULAR SCIENCE MONTHLY

the experiments. The propellers were even found to break under the strain of the actual engines in the open, though they had not done so in the shop, and this is mentioned as another instance of the numerous causes of trying delay which it was impossible to foresee.

Finally, however, on the 3d of September, everything seemed to be in readiness for the experiments, and the large aerodrome was accordingly placed in position and all orders given and arrangements made for a test that day. After stationing the various tugs, launches, etc., at their predetermined positions so that they might render any assistance necessary to the engineer or the aerodrome, in case it came down in the water at a point distant from the house boat, and after the photographers, with special telephoto cameras, had been stationed on the shore in order that photographs with their trigonometrical data might be obtained, from which speed, distance, etc., might be later determined, and when every one was anxiously expecting the experiment, a delay occurred from one of the hardly predictable causes just mentioned in connection with the weather. An attempt was made to start the engine so that it might be running at its proper rate when the aerodrome was launched into free air after leaving the track, but the dry batteries used for sparking the engine, together with the entire lot of several dozen which were on hand as a reserve, had become useless from the dampness.

I have merely instanced some of these causes of failure when everything was apparently ready for the expected test, but only one who was on the spot and who had interest in the outcome could appreciate trials of this sort, and the delays of waiting for weather suitable for experiments.

It was found that every storm which came anywhere in the vicinity, immediately selected the river as its route of travel, and although a ten-mile wind on the land would not be an insurmountable obstacle during an experiment, yet the same wind on the river rendered it impossible to maintain the large house boat on an even keel and free from pitching and tossing long enough to make a test.

While speaking of the difficulties imposed by the weather, it should also be understood that to take the aerodrome in parts from under the shelter of the roof and assemble and mount it upon the upper works was a task requiring four or five hours, and that during this time a change in the weather was altogether likely to occur, and did repeatedly occur, sufficient to render the experiment impossible. Experience has shown, then, that the aerodrome should be sheltered by a building, in which it shall be at all times ready for immediate launching. During all the delay resulting from this and other causes—since it was never known on what day the experiment might take place—a great expense for tug boats waiting at a distance of forty miles from