TRUTH OR FICTION?
I was present the other day, quite by chance, at the successful trial trip of M. Santos Dumont's airship at Longchamp. It is for man a great emotion and a great joy to witness a new victory of man over inanimate things. I do not know what the practical value of these experiments may be. They are undoubtedly only the feeble beginning of an uncertain invention, because it seems that the aëronaut cannot risk his balloon against the full strength of the wind and probably his motors could not stand a long trip.
But he does steer: he makes the balloon turn in every direction and then go like an arrow to the point he has fixed upon. For the first time the line of a human will has been marked in space, the plan of a human thought developed. Until now balloons could only be steered in a vertical direction, and that very clumsily. They dropped lower when part of their gas was allowed to escape, they rose higher when part of their ballast was thrown overboard, but beyond that
- Petite République, October 26, 1901.