Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/476

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were two representatives of the Board of Ordnance,[1] noticed that the machine was jerked violently down at the front (being caught, as it subsequently appeared, by the falling ways),[2] and under the full power of its engine was pulled into the water, carrying with it its engineer. When the aerodrome rose to the surface it was found that, while the front sustaining surfaces had been broken by their impact with the water, yet the rear ones were comparatively uninjured. As soon as a full examination of the launching mechanism had been made, it was found that the front portion of the machine had caught on the launching car, and that the guy post, to which were fastened the guy wires which are the main strength of the front surfaces, had been bent to a fatal extent.

The machine, then, had never been free in the air, but had been pulled down as stated.

The disaster just briefly described had indefinitely postponed the test, but this was not all. As has been said before, the weather had become very cold, and the so-called equinoctial storms being near, it was decided to remove the house boat at the earliest time possible, but before it could be done a storm came up and swept away all the launches, boats, rafts, etc., and in doing so completely demolished the greater part of them, so that when the house boat was finally removed to Washington, on the fifteenth of October, these appurtenances had to be replaced. It is necessary to remember that these long series of delays worked other than mere scientific difficulties, for a more important and more vital one was the exhaustion of the financial means for the work.

Immediately upon getting the boat to Washington the labor of constructing new sustaining surfaces was begun, and they were completed about the close of November. It was proposed to make a second attempt near the city, though in the meantime the ice had formed in the river. However, on the eighth of December, 1903, the atmosphere became very quiet shortly before noon and an immediate attempt was made at Arsenal Point, quite near Washington, though the site was unfavorable. Shortly after arriving at the selected point everything

  1. Major Macomb, of the Board of Ordnance, states in his report to the board, that "the trial was unsuccessful because the front guy post caught in its support on the launching car and was not released in time to give free flight, as was intended, but, on the contrary, caused the front of the machine to be dragged downward, bending the guy post and making the machine plunge into the water about 50 yards in front of the house boat."
  2. This instantaneous photograph, taken from the boat itself and hitherto unpublished, shows the aerodrome in motion before it had actually cleared the house boat. On the left is seen a portion of a beam, being a part of the falling ways in which the front wing was caught, while the front wing itself is seen twisted, showing that the accident was in progress before the aerodrome was free to fly.