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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/477

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473
THE LANGLEY AERODROME

was in readiness for the test. In the meantime the wind had arisen and darkness was fast approaching, but as the funds for continuing the work were exhausted, rendering it impossible to wait until spring for more suitable weather for making a test, it was decided to go on with it if possible This time there were on hand to witness the test the writer, members of the Board of Ordnance, and a few other guests, to say nothing of the hundreds of spectators who were waiting on the various wharves and shores. It was found impossible to moor the boat without a delay which would mean that no test could be made on account of darkness, so that it was held as well as possible by a tug, and kept with the aerodrome pointing directly into the wind, though the tide, which was running very strong, and the wind, which was blowing ten miles an hour, were together causing much difficulty. The engine being started and working most satisfactorily, the order was given by the engineer to release the machine, but just as it was leaving the track another disaster, again due to the launching ways, occurred.[1] This time the rear of the machine, in some way still unexplained, was caught by a portion of the launching car, which caused the rear sustaining surfaces to break, leaving the rear entirely without support, and it came down almost vertically into the water. Darkness had come before the engineer, who had been in extreme danger, could aid in the recovery of the aerodrome, the boat and machine had drifted apart, and one of the tugs, in its zeal to render assistance, had fastened a rope to the frame of the machine in the reverse position from what it should have been attached and had broken the frame entirely in two. While the injury which had thus been caused seemed almost irreparable to one not acquainted with the work, yet it was found upon close examination that only a small amount of labor would be necessary in order to repair the frame, the engine itself being entirely uninjured. Had this accident occurred at an earlier period, when there were funds available for continuing the experiments, it would not have been so serious, for many accidents in shop tests had occurred which, while unknown to the general public, had yet caused greater damage and required more time for repair than in the present case. But the funds for continuing the work were exhausted, and it being found impossible to immediately secure others for continuing it, it was found necessary to discontinue the experiments for the present, though I decided to use, from a private fund, the small amount of money


  1. Major Macomb again states in his official report to the board: "The launching car was released at 4:45 p.m.. . . The car was set in motion and the propellers revolved rapidly, the engine working perfectly, but there was something wrong with the launching. The rear guy post seemed to drag, bringing the rudder down on the launching ways, and a crashing, rending sound, followed by the collapse of the rear wings, showed that the machine had been wrecked in the launching; just how it was impossible to see."