Open main menu

Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 73.djvu/478

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

necessary to repair the frame so that it itself, together with its engine, which was entirely uninjured, might be available for further use if it should later prove possible, and that they themselves might be in proper condition to attest to what they really represent as an engineering achievement.

Entirely erroneous impressions have been given by the account of these experiments in the public press, from which they have been judged, even by experts; the impression being that the machine could not sustain itself in flight. It seems proper, then, to emphasize and to reiterate, with a view to what has just been said, that the machine has never had a chance to fly at all, but that the failure occurred on its launching ways; and the question of its ability to fly is consequently, as yet, an untried one.

There have, then, been no failures as far as the actual test of the flying capacity of the machine is concerned, for it has never been free in the air at all. The failure of the financial means for continuing these expensive experiments has left the question of their result where it stood before they were undertaken, except that it has been demonstrated that engines can be built, as they have been, of little over one half the weight that was assigned as the possible minimum by the best builders of France and Germany; that the frame can be made strong enough to carry these engines, and that, so far as any possible prevision can extend, another flight would be successful if the launching were successful; for in this, and in this alone, as far as is known, all the trouble has come.

The experiments have also given necessary information about this launching. They have shown that the method which succeeded perfectly on a smaller scale is insufficient on a larger one, and they have indicated that it is desirable that the launching should take place nearer the surface of the water, either from a track upon the shore or from a house boat large enough to enable the apparatus to be launched at any time with the wings extended and perhaps with wings independent of support from guys. But the construction of this new launching apparatus would involve further considerable expenditures that there are no present means to meet; and this, and this alone, is the cause of their apparent failure.

Failure in the aerodrome itself or its engines there has been none; and it is believed that it is at the moment of success, and when the engineering problems have been solved, that a lack of means has prevented a continuance of the work.