There was present also a curious, unclassified model of American design, in the hangar of Mr. Clifford Harman, which was not used. It consisted, principally, of a central cylinder about seven feet in diameter, placed horizontally, with single planes each side, the motor and propellers being located within the cylinder.
Two Americans at this meet, whose instruction in aviation had been received abroad, Mr. J. B. Moisant and Mr. J. Armstrong Drexel, drove monoplanes of the Bleriot type. Not one foreigner actually used a biplane, except the Englishman Mr. C. Grahame White, who occasionally drove a Farman biplane. It is probable that he did this from choice, judging from the extensive use he had made of it during the previous meet here at Bennings, although the fact that his 50 h. p. Bleriot was wrecked at Bennings may have necessitated its use. It was a notable fact, however, that, in the gusty winds at Belmont Park, the biplanes were the first out each day and it was my impression that Mr. White preferred to use the biplane under those conditions in preference to a monoplane. Mr. White, however, at a late date used a high speed 100 h. p. Bleriot, which will be referred to later.
The Advance in Two Years
It is recorded that, two years ago, when the Wright brothers and Farman were demonstrating the possibilities of flight in their biplanes, no ascensions were undertaken except during calm or perfect weather conditions, but the demonstrations at Belmont park and at Halethorpe were quite different. The weather was never ideal for flying. There was not a day during which the wind currents were not treacherous, and at Belmont Park there was only one very windy day during which the machines were kept in the sheds. Had this day not been Sunday, it is probable that some of the Wright biplanes would have flown. On the second day of the meet at Halethorpe a heavy downpour of rain, turning into hail and snow, accompanied by heavy winds, wrecked the large tents used as hangars and damaged two Curtiss biplanes beyond repair. It also caused damage, to a less extent, to the monoplanes of Radley, de Lesseps, Drexel and Latham, yet all of the monoplanes were soon repaired and flying in gusty winds with the Wright biplane, driven by Hoxsey, that had arrived after the destruction of the hangar. I gained the impression that repairs to these monoplanes were greatly facilitated by their method of construction, which permits the ready substitution of spare parts. Latham's Antoinette, for example, was slightly damaged in one of the planes, or wings, and a spare wing was quickly substituted. Radley's flier was badly smashed, but he had it in action before the end of the meet. It was not so imperative, however, to repair the Curtiss machines, as two others were readily sent to replace them.
The Principal Event at Belmont Park
The race for the Gordon-Bennet Cup, or Coupe Internationale & Aviation, which by tacit consent of the various bodies or clubs governing aeronautics in the world, determines the world's championship for speed in aeroplanes, was the most important event of the meet, from the viewpoint of sportsmanship. This was won by Mr. C. Grahame-White in a 100 h. p. Bleriot. This flight by Mr. White was also an important demonstration from a military standpoint. I saw Mr. White assembling the parts of this high speed Bleriot, at his hangar, late in the evening before this race. They had just been removed from the packing boxes. At 9.02 the next morning, he stepped into this machine for the first time and, without having ever used a 100 h. p. motor before, started it and immediately won the race, continuing to run over five miles more than the 62 miles required. This impressed me with the reliability of the Gnome motors and with the ability of the French makers to deliver, disassembled, the various parts of an aeroplane guaranteed to do its duty at once after being hastily assembled. The construction of this machine and the method of boxing the parts render it possible to stow a number of them on board ship and to assemble them, ready for use, in short order. From the appearance of the American machines and the numerous tuning-up performances exhibited by most of them, I gained the impression that they had not as yet been brought to the same state of perfection, either in quality of workmanship, in convenience of assembling, or in reliability.
The Bleriots and Antoinettes were remarkable examples of clever workmanship. The Antoinettes were the most graceful of all in appearance and their wing construction especially showed such marvels of craftsmanship as one would naturally expect from Mr. Nat. Herreschoff in this country.
Mr. White's speed, however, was surpassed during the greater part of this race. One of Mr. Bleriot's favorite pupils, Mr. Le Blanc, driving probably the best 100 h. p. machine yet produced at the Bleriot workshop, appeared on the course after Mr. White and soon demonstrated his superior control by shaving the pylons more closely than Mr. White. He had evidently started hastily and without replenishing the fuel in the tank, for his fuel gave out within 4600 yards of the finish, at which time he was leading Mr. White by about five minutes. The remarkable manner in whichthis machine crashed through a 12-inch telegraph pole (cutting out a piece 14 feet long) on landing, without serious injury to either the aviator or the Gnome motor in front of him, illustrates the safety afforded by the Bleriot design.
Mr. White won this race of 62.14 miles in 61 minutes 4.74 seconds, but he continued for two laps more, and thus, counting out the first two laps, made the required distance in 60 minutes 41.65 seconds, or in 5 minutes 58 seconds less than the previous world's record of Morane. M. Le Blanc's fastest lap was made at the rate of 67.868 miles per hour. This is not the highest speed straight away but includes the retardation due to the turns.* Mr. White stated that his machine became so heated that he thought it was on fire. Although a speed of 100 miles per hour is freely predicted for the near future, this performance seems to indicate that it will have to come as a result of important improvement in the architecture of the plane surfaces rather than from increase in the motive power. The increased efficiency per horse power claimed for the Wright machines seems to indicate this.
Another interesting feature of the race, in this connection, was that Latham's 16-cylinder. 100 h. p. Antoinette, although much faster than his 8-cylinder, 50 h. p. Antoinette, did not show up well in speed by comparison with the 14-cylinder Gnome motor Bleriots, of 100 h. p. However, Latham's speed in this racer improved on the following day over a smaller and more difficult course. This may have been due to different wind conditions, but it is probable that more experience in control had something to do with it. Walter Brookins started in this cup race in a "Baby Wright" biplane propelled by an 8-cylinder engine of 60 h. p. He encountered engine difficulties and had to descend quickly, in doing which he was injured and the machine damaged. It was stated, after this accident, that Brookins was not out officially as a contestant, but this machine had exhibited remarkable speed for such low power, it having been credited with 70 miles per hour in some of the unofficial records. During a preliminary trial four cylinders had failed to function properly and so this "hope of the Americans" showed that it had not been sufficiently tuned up to defend the cup.
The Principal Event at Halethorpe
The principal event at Halethorpe was Mr. Latham's flight over the city of Baltimore in his 50 h. p. Antoinette. This was purely sensational but was done to give everybody in the city a chance to see an exhibition of airmanship.
Leaving the aviation field, near noon on November 7, Latham followed the course of the Patapsco River to Fort McHenry, thence up the inner harbor to and around the Sun building, thence east to the city limits; then he flew a mile north, thence west to Druid Hill Park, then south over Charles Street to Baltimore Street, thence again west and later southwest to the aviation field at Halethorpe. There was also a short detour for the benefit of a wealthy invalid, Mr. Ross Winans, during which some pretty evolutions were performed in the air. The altitude of this flight varied from 400 to 2000 feet and the wind was blowing from 7 to 15 miles per hour. The distance covered was about 25 miles and the time required was 47 minutes 31 seconds.
Some Notable Feats
The cross country flight of Mr. J. B. Moisant, on October 22, the first day of the meet at Belmont Park, is worthy of note and, together with the flights of others for altitude records, is of special interest to the navy. This flight, from Belmont Park to Garden City, L. L, and return, occurred in fog and rain. He quickly disappeared in the mist and after covering the distance of about 30 miles in 40 minutes, appeared suddenly almost at the starting point having managed his course by the compass much as a seaman works dead-reckoning. His 50 h. p. Bleriot differs from the others in having a tail shaped like that of a fan-tailed pigeon and it is supposed that this assisted in steering a straight course.
Moisant's flight, in which he won by a few seconds' margin, the grand prize, from Belmont Park to the statue of liberty and back, although the most sensational event of the meet, because he purchased a 50 h. p. Bleriot (in which he had never sat before) at the last moment and won over Mr. C. Grahame-White in his 100 h. p. Bleriot. was principally notable by the facility with which he managed to steer a perfectly straight course in both directions over a landscape which must have been confused by the maze of Brooklyn buildings. The accurate course of this 35-mile flight, in a very perceptible breeze, may be judged by his average speed from start to finish (including a circuit of the track at Belmont Park) which was 60.6 miles per hour. Mr. Moisant's method of using; the compass is worthy of note. He first marks off on a map or chart the course, or the successive courses, he has to make in order to reach his destination. Then, rising to a height of about 1000 feet, at the point of departure, he swings the aeroplane around to the first course, by compass, and notes the most prominent object ahead on that bearing. Disregarding the compass, he then heads for that object avoiding drift, or leeway, by keeping other objects in the course on the same line of bearing, until he reaches the first turning point laid out on his map. This would be some well charted place. He then swings the machine around to head, by compass, on the next course laid out on the map and again selects a prominent distant object to steer for on that bearing, and so on.
This method, like all navigation, is uncertain in a fog, but the air man, although greatly handicapped by the difficulty of calculating his leeway, has the advantage over the seaman in being able to rise above the fog, as the usual fogs rarely extend to high altitudes. During his flight to Garden City, Moisant kept above the fog sufficiently to see a prominent clump of trees on an elevation at his destination, the captive balloon at the turning point being invisible in the fog, and he ran his courses there and back to Belmont Park accurately by compass and dead reckoning, the principal factors in his measurement of the distance being his time and speed.
Up to the present time, although there have been several flights across the English Channel, and other large bodies of water, no flight has been made in which the aviator has been independent of landmarks for guidance. The problem of accurate flying for distances out of sight of land, or a base ship, presents greater difficulties in navigation but these difficulties are not prohibitive.
Note.—Captain Bellanger, of the French Army Aviation Corps flew from Issy to Formerie, in Oise, in a monoplane, on September 8, steering by compass all the way despite the fact that a dense fog prevailed. He there reported for duty in connection with French Army maneuvers and made several noteworthy flights above the contending forces, reporting the position of troops. Late press dispatches record that, on December 10, he flew from Vincennes to Mourmelon, 100 miles, in 70 minutes, or at the rate of 85.68 miles per hour. He was doubtless assisted by the wind, as it is stated that he flew at an altitude of 4900 feet "because of a high wind.''
On the last day of the Belmont meet, Ralph Johnstone broke the altitude record in a Wright biplane, designated the "Baby Grand." This machine had a spread of 26 feet and four cylinders (60 h. p.), being an intermediary between the two "Baby Wrights," one of 8 cylinders (60 h. p.), 21 feet 6 inches spread, the other of 4 cylinders (30 h. p.), 22 feet spread, and the larger surface 4 cylinders (30 h. p.) "roadster" of 30 feet spread. At an earlier date, Walter Brookins had tried for altitude in this same machine, when the engine stopped at about 5000 feet. On landing, the machine was slightly damaged in the skids. Hoxey used this same machine at Halethorpe in high flying and on three successive occasions damaged the skids while landing. During his last effort this engine again stopped at about 5000 feet, obliging him to descend on a soft field, which wrecked the skids and planes beyond repair during the meet. Johnstone and Hoxsey both had the motor of this machine working, on separate occasions, during the maneuvers of landing. This seems to be a necessity with these small surfaced new model Wright machines, which have no front control planes at all, the elevator planes being abaft the vertical rudders. The aviators of both the Wright and Curtiss schools seem to think this is logical progress, but the performances of the Wright biplanes in comparison with the Curtiss and Farman biplanes, both of which had the front control, at these meets, indicate that if this is so, the new position of the elevator planes requires more skill, as in the monoplanes, to handle the machines while landing.
Prior to Johnstone's flight during which he attained an altitude of 9714 feet above the field level (or 500 feet more than the best previous record), Orville Wright had tested this machine, and after Johnstone's flight, stated that Johnstone might have reached 12,000 feet had he kept on climbing. But this is doubtful, as Johnstone's descriptions of the flight show that he repeatedly dropped into what he called "air holes" and had to swoop down 300 feet or more to gain additional speed to hurdle up to the highest altitude. Johnstone had learned that it was not possible to climb to any great height by simply turning up his elevating planes. He knew the exact angle of inclination at which he could get the best results and rise most quickly, but he found that thisangle required frequent change as he continued to climb. From the earth he could dash upward to a height of 1000 feet in one or two sweeping circles. The next 1000 or 2000 feet could be almost as easily conquered, but as he went higher "the air thinned out and grew poor in oxygen." He had to nurse the engine constantly, and had frequently to start it, after it had stopped dead, cranking up with the propellers, by using the force of the wind on their forward sides in a downward swoop of 200 or 300 feet. During these high flights, the aviators, though well protected by warm clothing, suffer severely from the intense cold (as they are unable to take any exercise during the flight), and if they remain long enough up the lubricating oil becomes stiff, or freezes, and the engine stops. Aviators using the Gnome engine endeavor to reduce this risk to a minimum by the use of castor oil as a lubricant regardless of the expense. The effect of this intense cold, and the rarefied atmosphere, stupefies the aviator, and it requires an appreciable time after the descent before he can talk coherently. These are practical hints with reference to the use of aeroplanes in high altitudes at sea.
During the Belmont meet, Hoxsey, in altitude flights, remained aloft longer than any other aviator. His totalized altitude reached over eight miles, although his highest point reached was 6903 feet and his total time in the air, the greatest during the meet, was 6 hours, 29 minutes, 22 seconds.
A notable feature of the altitude flights was that many were made in very strong winds. On the sixth day, while the wind was blowing in gusts about 25 miles per hour near the ground, and while Latham was giving a fine exhibition of control in his Antoinette around the course, Johnstone and Hoxsey both went up for altitude records. Their speeds were about 38 miles per hour but, on reaching the higher and steadier currents, the wind increased so that they were blown backward gradually. Johnstone at 8500 feet must have been going 40 miles per hour, yet he was blown 45 miles away. Hoxsey went up 6900 feet and landed 25 miles to leeward. Both descended in safety about the same time that a nasty wind squall passed over Belmont Park and made everybody seek shelter. Both of these daring men flew back to the aviation grounds on the following day.
Although the Wright biplane scored its supremacy in altitude flights at Belmont Park, Drexel in his 50 h. p. Bleriot monoplane, during a struggle of over an hour, succeeded in reaching 8373 feet. He has since at Philadelphia, scored an altitude officially recorded as 9897 feet, which, though higher than Johnstone, is not officially recorded as the highest record, for the reason that it does not exceed the last highest by 100 meters or 328 feet. This is one of the rules governing such contests. It is difficult to measure these high altitudes by triangulation, owing to the frequent disappearance of the aviator in the clouds or above the haze. The barograph, which is simply a small aneroid barometer with a pencil attached to the end of a lever recording on a graduated roll of paper set in motion by clock mechanism, has come to be regarded as the most reliable measuring instrument for altitude flights. It is officially sealed before using and officially opened afterward, but it is apparent that measurements above 9000 feet are so delicately recorded that errors of a few hundred feet may be easily made. This is indicated by the fact that one official measurement of Drexel's last record was announced as 9450 feet only.
It was noticeable that several of the aviators wore eye glasses, normally, and that during flights most of them wore goggles. Moisant, who does not use goggles always, stated, after landing from his cross-country flight to Garden City, that his eyes were so Winded during the trip that he could scarcely see to make a landing. This was caused by the strong back blast of the propeller in front of him throwing into his eyes much moisture collected from the fog and much oil from the revolving engine. Under the circumstances, goggles would have been entirely useless. There is a simple remedy for this inconvenience and I note that some of the newer designs of foreign aeroplanes take advantage of it. A vertical wind shield before the face, rising to a height just sufficient to enable one to see over it, will throw the wind blast up over the head and leave sufficient calm before the face and eyes to enable one to light a cigar at the highest speed. The front edges and curves of the wings or planes of aircraft are shaped to take advantage of this phenomena by adapting them to rise into the partial vacuum thus created and so to increase their lifting power.
The Demoiselle Machines and Some Notes on Design
I watched the performances of the Santos-Dumont "Demoiselles" at Belmont Park with much interest because of the low center of gravity of this type. They resembled winged tricycles more than aeroplanes, and their flights were always spectacular.
Messieurs Garros and Andemars seemed to control them readily but, although making considerable speed with their 30 h. p. motors, their small 18-foot spread of wings and only 100 square feet of supporting surface, they always flew low and seldom remained long in flight. It is said that M. Garros is not satisfied with the performances of his motor, which is one of the horizontal opposed cylinder type, and that he intends to adopt a Gnome motor of the same power. It will be interesting to note the effect of this change, but it seems to be the opinion of experienced aviators that the low position of the driver in this machine, although it enables him to get a fine view of the landscape, not only detracts from the speed but makes the flight more difficult to control.
The low center of gravity in the Demoiselle type was the nearest approach to automatic stability exhibited by any of the aeroplanes at these meets. Gyroscopes, pendulums and empirical electric and compressed air devices were notably absent from all designs exhibited. It would be absurd to predict what may yet be accomplished in the direction of automatic stability, but it is notable that the most advanced manufacturers of aeroplanes still rely mainly upon the skill of the aviator for preserving stability or balance in the air.
According to Mr. Moisant, the work of controlling an aeroplane is very easy after it is well clear of the wind billows or waves which, near the earth, are often balloting around and flowing down over the various obstacles on the earth's surfaces. He says "any one except the timid man can learn to fly." It is questionable whether it is desirable to so perfect the aeroplanes that the timid can learn to fly, but this is not necessary in order to make use of them in warfare. Moisant agrees with other aviators in stating that velocity is one of the chief preventives against lateral capsizing. Should a strong current of air lift one side, say the right wing, equilibrium can be restored by a quick dive and a sharp turn of the aeroplane to the right by means of the vertical rudder alone. Experienced aviators frequently right their machines in this way, without warping the wings or using the ailerons.
Mr. Moisant seems also to have positive ideas about the developments of the future. He thinks that the greatest advances will be made as an accompaniment to increased speed, high speed being a better preserver of equilibrium than flexible wing tips and other special devices, and he has been doing something in France towards the development of a high speed monoplane constructed wholly of metal, including the wings, in which he claims to have made two trial flights.
Mr. J. D. Pursell, a writer in Aeronautics, shows very good reasons why great improvement in speed may be expected, without further improvement or increase in the power of motors, by certain improvements in the arrangement of the lifting or plane surfaces and he predicts that it may yet be possible to run at comparatively slow speeds and at the same time have a reserve of power for high speeds with the same plane surfaces. This, of course, would be a wonderful step in advance.
There were no special prizes for long distance flights at either of these meets, but in the totalization of distances at Belmont Park (the sum of the various hourly distance contests, which occurred each day) Latham won first prize in his 50 h. p. Antoinette, having covered a distance of 168 miles. The record for the longest distance yet recorded is held by M. Maurice Tabuteau, who made 289 miles in a biplane on October 28, 1910, at the Aerodrome Etampes, France, during a continuous flight of six hours.
In the passenger carrying contest at Belmont Park (the greatest live weight carried over three miles), De Lesseps won first prize by carrying 356 ½ pounds the required distance in 5 minutes, 12 seconds.
In connection with the subject of passenger carrying, it is worth noting that aeroplanes for the navy should be constructed for carrying at least two persons, an operator and an observer, the latter being also a wireless expert. And in pursuance of thisidea it is of special interest to record here a notable event in the history of aviation, the sending of the first wireless message by Mr. J. B. McCurdy, on August 27, 1910, from his Curtiss biplane, during a flight over Sheepshead Bay. Mr. McCurdy describes the details as follows: "The telegraphic key was fastened to my steering wheel and was easily operated. For a ground from the machine I used a wire about 50 feet long, which, after I got well into the air, was thrown overboard and allowed to dangle behind the machine, with one end fastened to the apparatus. The antenna consisted of the guy wiring of the aeroplane so that the whole system was very simple. I flew away for a distance of about two miles and circled at an elevation of about 700 feet. Within this distance the instrument worked extremely well."
The message of 17 words was received by Mr. H. M. Horton, stationed on top of the grandstand of the race track. Since then Mr. McCurdy, at Hammondsport, N. Y., has sent numerous messages to Mr. Horton which were received at a distance of five miles.
Ely’s Flight from the U.S.S. Birmingham
On November 9, 1910, the U. S. S. Birmingham being available for an experiment intended to demonstrate the practical requirements necessary for the use of existing aeroplanes from naval vessels in scouting, that ship was sent to Norfolk, where at the navy yard, a temporary wooden platform was erected on the forecastle, under the supervision of Naval Constructor Wm. McEntee, U. S. N. This platform was 83 feet in length, 24 feet wide, and built with an even slope of 50, so that its forward edge was 37 feet above water.
Mr. Eugene Ely, then engaged at the Halethorpe meet, volunteered to make an attempt to leave this platform in a Curtiss biplane after the close of that meet which occurred on Saturday, November 12th. Ely's own favorite 4-cylinder motor was sent to Norfolk that night, from Baltimore, and on Sunday a Curtiss biplane, the same "Hudson Flyer" in which Mr. Curtiss had flown from Albany to New York, was transported to the navy yard. On Monday morning, November 14th, this aeroplane was placed on the Birmingham's temporary platform and it was noted then that the running distance, from the front wheel to the edge of the platform, was 57 feet. The motor was then mounted and, withoutany previous tuning up or test of the reassembled aeroplane having been made on shore, the ship steamed to Hampton Roads, followed by the torpedo destroyers Roe, Terry, Stringham and Bailey.
The weather was unsettled, with low clouds and occasional light showers of rain and hail, but the wind from S. S. W. was not blowing more than 10 miles per hour.
Wireless telegraphic reports, however, indicated a change to strong northerly winds for the following day, and it was determined to proceed with the experiment that day, in the rain if necessary.
The original intention was to steam out into Chesapeake Bay, head the ship to the wind at about 10 knots and thus attempt a flight up the Elizabeth River to the Norfolk Navy Yard, with the torpedo boats stationed along the route in attendance. But the thickness of the weather rendered landmarks so obscure, that the ship was anchored off Old Point Comfort to await a possible improvement. Once, the torpedo boats were sent out and the ship got under way to begin operations, but an extra heavy fall of rain came on and proceedings were delayed. At about 3 p. m., another attempt was decided upon and, while getting under way, Mr. Ely took his seat in the biplane to test the motor. As his engine was gradually spun up to full speed, the powerful back draft from the propeller so disconcerted the helmsman on the bridge, his face being directly behind that propeller, that it was doubtful whether he would be able to steer the ship from that position. Suddenly, while 20 fathoms of chain were still out, and without previous warning, Mr. Ely gave the signal to let go and at 3.16 p. m., he quickly flew off the platform without having any assistance from the ship whatever in the matter of speed, or lifting power. He had realized that weather conditions would not improve, and had suddenly concluded to try the experiment from a standstill.
His aeroplane followed accurately the middle line mark on the platform, and its tail cleared the forward end by about 20 feet, Wore he gave it a graceful, bird-like swoop or vol plane (to increase the speed) and then he gradually arose to a height variously estimated at 150 to 500 feet. In thus swooping down, the lower part of his machine, the skid framing and the pontoons, struck the water and was sufficiently submerged to demonstrate that ifhis speed had not already been accelerated to more than sufficient for flight, the retardation caused by the plunge would have prevented further flight. He explained later that his touching the water was entirely due to a miscalculation in moving the rod of the front control or elevator. His rod had been lengthened, since his previous use of it, to suit another aviator, and when he pulled it towards him to raise the elevator he did not give quite enough angle to the planes to prevent too deep a dive. On striking the water, the propeller tips struck also and both driving edges were splintered. This did not apparently affect the control or the speed of the aeroplane, and it demonstrated that such a propeller may be considerably damaged without affecting a flight seriously.
A quantity of salt water was splashed up over his goggles, and this, combined with the continued rain, rendered very obscure his view of the necessary landmarks, that were further obscured by the thick weather. He accordingly became confused in his bearings, and after about four minutes in flight, seeing the broad beach on the north side of Willoughby Spit spread out invitingly under him, he decided to land there. This he did, in the soft sand, without any damage to the aeroplane, after a flight of 2 ½ miles. I was pleased to learn that he had not continued on towards Norfolk, as I had begun to have grave doubts about his ability to get his bearings in thick weather, over a landscape with which he was unfamiliar. After he had demonstrated his ability to leave the ship so readily, without assistance from the ship's speed, or from any special starting device, such as that formerly used by the Wright brothers, my satisfaction with the results of the experiment was increased, for two reasons:
(1). The point of greatest concern in my mind about carrying out the original program was the uncertainty of stopping the ship or changing the course in time to prevent running over the aviator in case he should land in the water.
(2) His demonstration, that an aeroplane of comparatively old design and moderate power can leave a ship in flight while the ship is not under way, points clearly to the conclusion that the proper place for the platform is aft. An after platform can be made longer, will not require a loosening of the stays of any mast, and its essential supports can be so rigged as a part of the permanent structure of a scout cruiser as to cause no inconvenience in arranging the other military essentials of the ship's design.
This information amply repays for the small expense of rigging the experimental platform. Furthermore, if it be desired to have an aeroplane land on board of the ship the after position of the platform is the best for that purpose. It would be comparatively easy, in smooth water, for a scout to steam head to wind at the proper speed to allow of the gradual approach and descent of an aeroplane to a platform located aft. Safety nets at each side of a middle runway could easily be rigged. If the condition of the wind and sea should render such a landing inadvisable, the aviator could land in the water under the lee of the ship and be picked up by a boat's crew. The machine used by Mr. Ely on this occasion was supplied with two cylindrical air chambers called "pontoons," under the lower planes, to impart the necessary buoyancy, and the aviator himself was equipped with a pneumatic life-preserver.
Photographs of Ely's start, the temporary platform and the machine used are appended.
The Aeroplanes and the Aviators
Details of the machines used at Belmont Park, and the names of the aviators using them, as published by the official starter of the meet, will be appended to this report in tabular form. These details will cover also all the aeroplanes used at Halethorpe.
In this country there are already numerous biplanes and some monoplanes and triplanes, other than those tabulated in the appendix, each with distinguishing characteristics, that have made successful flights. It is to be hoped that an exhibition will soon be given in this country equal to that which opened in Paris on October 15, 1910.
At this Paris Exhibition, improvements were shown in the Farman and Voisin biplanes and many improvements and novel features in both biplanes and monoplanes of other makes. Most of the best known makes and many new designs were represented. The following list of the important exhibitors or companies showing full-sized, ready-to-fly, aeroplanes on exhibition illustrates the advance made by France in this industry. Louis Paulhan, the Nieuport, the Esnault-Pelterie, the Ferdinand Loire, the Turcat-Mery et Rougier, Ardineau & Co., the Goupy, Regy Freres, the Compagnie Aerienne, the Avia, Louis Bregnet, the C. I. N. A. (Compagnie Internationale de Navigation Aerienne), the Chantiers Tellier, Paul Koechlin, Clerget & Co., Henry Coanda, Henri Fabre, Passerat & Radiguet, the Antoinette, Roger Sommer, G. Vinet, Sloan and Co., the Hanriot and P. J. Gregone.
The most original departures from familiar makes at this exhibition were the biplane of L. Paulhan, the hydro-aeroplane of Henri Fabre and the biplane of Henry Coanda. Paulhan's machine includes certain features patented by Henri Fabre, with whom he has been collaborating. It bears little resemblance to any previous machine, the elevator is slung on leather straps and works by the bending of these straps, the long skids are linked up to the main frame members by an intermediate strut of wood, also attached by leather straps at each end, and the tail is also attached by leather. The main frames of the structure that do duty for the forward edges of the planes, elevator, rudder and tail, are made up like bridge trusses of a series of endless Vs. They are composed of two long flat planks separated by short struts of the same width as the planks, and held in position by angle plates and copper rivets. Instead of warping the wings or using ailerons, the whole angle of incidence of the wings is altered. Mr. Paulhan believes that this V method of constructing the main members of the planes is lighter and stronger than any other, and that the passage of the air through the dihedral, or truss arrangement makes for lateral stability. The plane surfaces are simply hooked on to these spars and supported rearward by flexible ribs which fit into pockets in the fabric. These ribs can thus be easily replaced when broken. This machine has other novel points, in details, and is said to have flown quite satisfactorily, even in its experimental stage.
The hydro-aeroplane of Henri Fabre shows the same dihedral bridge trussing of the front edge spars as Mr. Paulhan's biplane. It has two tandem planes with the small plane leading and a small elevator over the top of the forward plane. Each of the main or after wings has a mast about one-third of its length from tbe body and at the foot of each mast is a float. The front planes also have a float under the mast which carries them both. While on the water the structure is thus supported at three points. Mr. Fabre has, on many occasions, risen from the water and made flights of six to nine miles over the mouth of the Rhone and he has found by experience that no vertical rudder is necessary, forthe dihedral, or truss, frames act effectively as rudders, the whole front plane being swung around its mast horizontally.
The Coanda machine is a clean-cut model without superfluous air-resisting parts. Its chief novelties consist of wood being used entirely in the wing or plane construction and in the replacement of the usual propeller by a turbine fitted in the bow.
An Etrich monoplane, by an Austrian engineer of that name, was expected at the Belmont Park tournament but failed to arrive. This has several very novel features of control and construction, including a bridge-truss arrangement for supporting the wings, and has met with considerable success in flight.
There are several new types that have made successful flights in England, a very notable one being a peculiar biplane by Lieut. J. W. Dunne, with the planes sloping aft on each side of a boat-shaped body or chassis. This is said to be a step towards improvement in stability.
An interesting and novel idea is that of a Japanese officer whose machine, with a double set of wings is patterned after the dragon fly. With this he claims ability to hover over an object after the manner of that insect.
Extent of Aviation Information and Literature
The world's progress in aviation is being watched with such interest that a great many readers of the newspapers who have not time to read the vast volume of existing literature bearing upon the scientific and practical investigation of this subject, feel competent to discuss the achievements of the aviators and to improve upon the designs of aeroplanes. The Wright brothers are commonly regarded as having made their discoveries in a haphazard though practical way. Fact is, their success is due to a careful analysis of all previous information and a most painstaking investigation conducted by purely scientific methods supplemented by frequent tentative experiments.
Aviation as an art is such a fascinating study and experimentation with models and gliders is so easy that thousands of people in all parts of the civilized world, youths, men and even women, rich and poor, are devoting a large share of time and money to it.
There are over 50 aeronautical societies and influential bodies in the world studying earnestly to advance the art and add to the science of aviation. Patents on the subjects are increasing at analarming rate, the spirit of competition is keen and, I regret to say, jealousy among aviators as well as among designers is already apparent, although aviation has not yet produced successful machines for traffic or commercial use. It is very probable, however, that certain manufacturers of aeroplanes, particularly those in which the industry is an adjunct to an establishment for the production of lightweight motors, are making a commercial success of aviation. This is due principally to its success as a sport and to its promises of usefulness in warfare. .
Many writers on aviation are predicting all sorts of dire disaster to battleships from aerial warfare, with much of the same sort of enthusiasm and abandon as actuated the early prophets of torpedo warfare, but conservative writers believe that it is yet too early to forecast the full development of aerial warfare, although they admit that it will play an important part in future wars.
It may be assumed, however, that the present state of development will limit the use of aeroplanes, in the navies of the immediate future, to reconnaissance or scouting duty.
The extent of existing literature on aeronautics and aviation is not generally known. There are already more than 400 books on the subject; many of them large standard works, and over 25 current publications. Many people are actively engaged in writing and compiling other books to keep the literature up to date. I have endeavored in this report to jot down the salient features only of my observations and to avoid mention of what is commonly known. There should, however, be collected, at the Navy Department, a library of the most important standard works and current literature on the subject of aviation, for the benefit of those who may be specially detailed to thoroughly investigate the development of aviation in the navy.
The Development of Aviation in the Navy
The development of air craft bears close analogy to the development of boats both scientifically and practically. The equations of motion in both air and water are similar and the dynamical properties of both elements are very much alike, so that the data obtained from model experiments in water may with slight variations be used for compilations in the design of aeroplanes. Already the lines and architecture of an aeroplane can be worked out as readily as those of a racing yacht.
The boats of the navy are provided by the joint action of the 3ureaus of Construction and Repair and Steam Engineering, and the engineering problems involved in the construction of aeroplanes deserve consideration by the skilled talent of both bureaus. The design of the motive power, however, occupies a more important place in the problems of aeroplane construction than it does in the construction of boats. Failure of the motive power in a boat is insignificant in comparison with a like failure in an aeroplane and it is principally due to improvements in motive power that the use of aeroplanes has been made practicable. Lightness combined with strength and reliability is of paramount importance in the aeroplane work that naturally pertains to both bureaus. The structural work of the frames, planes and control mechanisms calls for special skill such as that displayed in the shops of eminent boat builders, but the work involved in the design of aeroplanes depends to a greater extent, than in the development of boats, upon the practical experiences of the men who will use them and, for this reason, the Bureau of Navigation is also especially concerned in the work of development. The Bureau of Ordnance is also concerned with the development of ordnance material for defensive use in aerial warfare.
The Navy Department is already fairly well equipped with a model plant at the Washington Navy Yard for the scientific investigation of problems connected with the design and construction of aeroplanes and with an experiment station at Annapolis for investigating the problems of motive power and for testing.
In view of the above, it seems that the organization of the Navy Department is well equipped for taking up the study of aviation and the development of aeroplanes for naval purposes and that a safe guide in the assignment of cognizance is to place the design, supply, installation, maintenance, repair and use of aeroplanes in parallel with that of boats for the navy.
The boats of the navy that are provided with steam or other mechanical power cost from $1635 (for the 28-foot motor whale boat), to $25,037 (for the 50-foot steam cutter); the cost of the motive power being from 50 to 59 per cent of the total.
Aeroplanes of proven types are now advertised in this country for from $1675 to $10,000, the cost of the motive power being about 50 per cent of the total.
It is, therefore, recommended that aeroplanes in the navy be placed in the same category as boats and be acquired, in like manner, as equipage.
Whatever may be the results obtained from the future development of aeroplanes for use on land, a type or types, specially adapted to the naval service is yet to be developed. For this reason, I recommend the immediate purchase of only such of the existing aeroplanes as are needed for the tentative and progressive instruction of our personnel in their use. It is also recommended that the sum of $25,000 be authorized by Congress for experimental investigation of the practical problems to be presented during the progress of instruction and in the establishment of special facilities for carrying on such work in a systematic way.
We are fortunate in being able to rely, to a certain extent, upon the U. S. Aeronautical Reserve for trained aviators, many of them equipped with aeroplanes, to expand our resources in emergency, but it would be folly to depend entirely upon this source and our aim should be to so master the subject of aviation within the service that we may advance the science from a nautical standpoint and so assist these experts to a correct understanding of the conditions and problems which are of special importance to the navy.
For a beginning, I recommend that the Department assign two aeroplanes, or at least one two seated aeroplane (with necessary spare parts) as part of the equipment of each scout cruiser. It would probably be advantageous to obtain one of each of the most advanced types made in this country to begin with, although Mr. Glenn Curtiss has already made some independent experiments with aeroplanes fitted to rise from and land on the surface of the water, but such considerations as this should be left for recommendation by a special body of officers, detailed to study the subject, from the bureaus having cognizance.
Training of the Personnel
The training of qualified aviators in the navy should be advanced simultaneously with an extension of our training to use wireless telegraph from aeroplanes, to the end that, if possible, each aeroplane used from a ship may carry an aviator and an observer, both qualified to control the machine.
Aeroplanes have already been developed abroad with this object in view, the two seats being each provided with control apparatus enabling each man to alternate in control. All aeroplanes used for instruction in France are two seated and monoplanes, as well as biplanes, have been produced which can carry two passengers in addition to the pilot.
There are numerous aviation schools in Europe, each provided with suitable practice fields or "aerodromes," and it is estimated that about 300 pupils have already qualified in the commercial aerodromes alone. At least two fields suitable for this purpose, controlled by the Navy Department, already exist on the Atlantic Coast, one adjacent to the Experimental Station at Annapolis (suitable for summer work) ; the other at the Navy Yard, Charleston, S. C. (suitable for winter work). Each place would probably require a moderate amount of surfacing and .the construction of sheds or hangars. On the Pacific Coast, it is probable that suitable facilities could be found near the coaling plant at San Diego, Cal., and this would be convenient to the aerodrome of Mr. Glenn Curtiss at that place.
There are many ways in which preliminary instruction can be carried on without danger and without much expense in repairing damaged machines. French aerodromes are variously equipped with specially prepared machines for the use of pupils. The Voisin Company, for example, has an aeroplane closely resembling its ordinary product but with the power and the angle of incidence of the planes so capable of adjustment that it is impossible for even an expert to rise very high or to remain in the air for many minutes. The Clement-Bayard Company and the Antoinette makers each use aeroplanes without wings, or planes, for the instruction of beginners and such devices are suitable for use at any place where there is not sufficient space available for a large aerodrome. A practice machine, costing from $100 to $200, with about 100 square feet of plane surface suitably disposed in connection with a motor cycle, driving an air propeller, either on land or mounted in a suitable boat, would provide an excellent means for learning the rudiments of flying. But these are also details which should be left to those organized to advise the Department on the subject.
The systematic training of naval aviators may be readily inaugurated with the aid of the torpedo flotillas, or possibly oftorpedo boats in reserve, by stationing one or more boats at a time, temporarily, in succession, at or near each of the practice fields, the boats being used as headquarters, or bases for instructional work.
The further needs of the service for carrying on this instructional work could thus be easily and practically developed. But, prior to this and while the first aeroplanes are being procured, at least one officer should be sent, for instruction, to each of the established aerodromes in this country. The California aerodrome of Mr. Glenn Curtiss is probably the best at present and is eminently suitable for instruction during the winter months.
One of the earliest steps recommended, is the establishment of an Office of Naval Aeronautics in the Department, and the detailing of a representative from each of the Bureaus of Construction and Repair, Steam Engineering, Navigation, and Ordnance to study the subject of aviation and to recommend the measures to be taken, from time to time, for its development in the navy.
These officers should constitute a council or board to meet at the office of Naval Aeronautics, whenever required to consider recommendations and whenever necessary to consult the literature, which should there be collected, or to discuss the many questions involved.
A library of standard aeronautical works, current aeronautical literature, small models, plans and all available information on the subject should be systematically collected at this office and kept up to date under the directions of the senior officer detailed to preside and to attend to the correspondence.
Additional Notes on Aviation
The company used by J.B. Moisant, mentioned in the preceding report, has been frequently represented by him as "a glycerine floated compass." I presume glycerine renders the needle less sensitive to vibration.
A compass specially designed for aerial navigation, designed by M. G. Deloz, is described in L'Acrophile for December 1, 1910. This is similar to the usual mariner's compass in everything pertaining to the suspension or balance and the provisions against oscillation and vibration, but the bottom of the bowl is of glass for the purpose of enabling the aviator to see through it. The compass needle is suspended beneath a disc of mica or other transparent substance. Upon this mica disc is engraved a series of parallel lines, with occasional cross lines, and it may be turned in azimuth, through the medium of a milled head button above the compass face, without disturbing the needle. The parallel lines may thus be pointed in any given direction and the mica disc again allowed to settle upon the needle in such a way that it follows the needle in its movements.
We can readily see how this compass would be of service in following a charted course over a visible landscape, but to adapt it for navigation over the sea some modification may be necessary. It is possible that a mirror attachment may be made to reflect the image of the base ship upon the compass dial and so assist in maintaining a correct course.
In connection with the subject of overwater flights the following official account of J. A. W. McCurdy's record flight across the Florida Straits is interesting:
Extract from Report of the Commander of Eighth Division, Atlantic Torpedo Fleet
In safeguarding such a flight many conditions had to be considered. (a) The sea could not be rough if the aeroplane was to be saved in case of alighting in the water, (b) The vessels must always be close enough together in order that the aeroplane could always be in sight of at least one vessel; Mr. McCurdy stated that the visibility of his machine was about tree miles, so ten miles was taken as the proper distance between stations. (c) The aviator must be provided with a buoyant and yet light life preserver. Captain W. I. Chambers, U. S. Navy, sent to me a pneumatic life preserver for this purpose which was worn by Mr. McCurdy. (d) In case of thick weather shutting out a view of the sea and the destroyers it became necessary to provide a means of steering a course. This was arranged by using a small navy boat compass, attaching it to the frame of the aeroplane below the aviator's seat. In order to make sure of its accuracy the machine was swung around after installing the compass and by means of reciprocal bearings on another compass about 30 feet away, it was found the mounted compass was nearly magnetic.
At the suggestions of Mr. McCurdy a platform with a hinged tail was rigged on the stern of the Paulding, the idea being in case of alighting in the water to haul the aeroplane up on this platform and allow him to attempt a second flight. The material of this platform was furnished by the Curtiss Company and built by the men of the destroyers.
The 24th was selected as the earliest day possible to make the flight. On the 24th, however, a very strong northeast wind was blowing and the sea in the Straits was too high for safety in case of alighting. The weather condition was watched very carefully both at Key West and Havana, and the commandant at Key West arranged that these reports should be collected at the wireless station every four hours and copies delivered to the Paulding. There was no break in the weather, the barometer remaining high, until Saturday, January 28, 1911, when at Key West the wind seemed to have lulled, and Havana reported but little wind. The four destroyers left Key West at 3.30 a. m. and proceeded to a point 40 miles south by west of Sand Key light. It was soon seen that the conditions were unfavorable and that a flight would be extremely hazardous in case the aviator was forced to alight. This opinion was sent to the commandant at Key West and telephoned to Mr. McCurdy, who at once agreed to abide by advice of the commanding officers of the destroyers. The Terry and Drayton were then sent into Key West and the Paulding and Roe proceeded to Havana. We visited the Belen Observatory kept by Jesuit fathers, and Father Anguati informed us that there would be no change in the conditions until the two anti-cyclones had passed. He explained that the spell of weather had been long due to the passage of one anti-cyclone after another, and that if a low appeared the conditions would become better at once. I notified Mr. McCurdy of this through the commandant at Key West, and Mr. McCurdy sent definite word that there would be no attempt to fly until Monday at the earliest.
On Sunday afternoon the wind seemed to drop and the sea on the Malecon at Havana, which had been large all the week, was seen to be lessening. We visited Belen Observatory Sunday night and were told that the barometer was falling, that the next day would be calm, and advised that opportunity be taken of it. A wire was at once sent to the commandant at Key West of the expected conditions and Mr. McCurdy notified that the next day, Monday, January 30, 1911, would probably offer the conditions sought.
The four destroyers made a rendezvous at 6.00 a. m., 90th meridian time, at a point 30 miles south by west one-half west of Sand Key light. It was seen that the wind would be of small force and there was but little sea, only the natural swell of the ocean. All agreed that we could not let an opportunity go by, even though the following day might see the ocean smoother. The Roe was told to wireless to the commandant at Key West to notify Mr. McCurdy that the conditions were good, that we advised a start be made, and that the destroyers were taking station.
At 6.30 a. m., 90th meridian time, all vessels safeguarding the route to be taken were at their stations. The lighthouse tender Mangrove was five miles from Sand Key, the revenue cutter Forward ten miles from Sand Key, and the destroyers spaced at intervals of ten miles from the Forward, on the line between Sand Key and Morro lighthouse. At 6.30 a. m„ meridian time, the Roe reported by wireless to Key West that all vessels were ready. A light air had sprung up from the southeast.
At 7.22 a. m., 90th meridian time, Mr. McCurdy launched his aeroplane into the air, and at 7.34 a. m. he passed the Key West wireless station at a height of something under 700 feet. This news was wirelessed from Key West and received by all destroyers. The commandant at Key West ordered hoisted a large flag at a wireless mast which was hauled down as the aeroplane passed, a signal to the tug and steam launch patrolling between the city and Sand Key light to watch for the aeroplane. At 8.11 a. m. the Roe wirelessed that the aeroplane had passed over her and all destroyers at once steamed with all possible speed with three boilers or about 26I6 knots speed, for Havana. From the time of passing the Roe no other message could be received, as the Roe only could send by wireless. The aviator successfully passed over the Drayton at 8.55 a. m., 90th meridian time, and Terry at 9.17 a. m., and at 9.15 a. m., 90th meridian time, was in sight of the Paulding. At 9.17 a. m. the Terry hauled down her flag hoisted as a signal that he had passed over her. At 9.33 a. m. the aeroplane descended slowly and was seen to alight on the water. The Paulding at this time was about seven nautical miles from Morro and about eight to nine miles from the Terry. The Paulding turned and steamed back to where the aviator had alighted. It took exactly 12 minutes after the turn to reach the Terry, which had stopped close to the machine and had rescued the aviator, so that the aeroplane alighted about five miles to the northward of the Paulding, making twelve miles from Morro. When the Paulding arrived at the scene Mr. McCurdy was sitting in the Terry's lifeboat, directing where to make lines fast to the aeroplane.
It was found impossible to use the hinged platform to run up the machine and after considerable difficulty, owing to the swell and the frailness of the aeroplane, we succeeded in skidding it up the vertical side of the ship and landed it on deck. The cause of alighting was believed at first to have been due to a hole in the engine crank case allowing the oil to run out, but, afterwards, it was discovered that this hole was the effect and not the cause. The lubricating oil gave out about the time the aeroplane passed the Terry, and in the next 10 minutes before he alighted, at 9.33 a. m., all of the engine bearings had burned up. There was nothing to do but alight, and the manner in which he did so showed the possibilities of the use of aeroplanes over water. If the sea had been rough, undoubtedly Mr. McCurdy would have been thrown from his seat, but on this day there was no such danger, and he said he did not even get wet. The machine did not float upright; the engine was submerged and the front horizontal steering planes elevated in the air, the tail steering planes were broken in alighting. It would have been impossible to again fly this machine until thoroughly overhauled at the factory. Other damage was done to the aeroplane by the boats and in getting it on board the Paulding, but all of a minor nature.
When the Roe arrived about 10.15 a. m. a message was sent by her to notify Captain Hayden that the aviator had alighted 12 nautical miles from Morro and was safe. The Cuban gunboat Hatuey appeared at 10.30 a. m., with President Gomez on board and offered congratulations to Mr. McCurdy and asked if she could be of service. The message was received by the Roe and thanks were sent back by wireless to the President of Cuba.
At 11.45 a. m. the Paulding, with Mr. McCurdy on board, and in company with the Terry, Roe and Drayton, steamed for Havana harbor, arriving at the entrance at 12.22 p. m. Great crowds of people could be seen everywhere; on the Malecon, on Morro, and on the housetops; theygave Mr. McCurdy an ovation as the Paulding steamed close by and they could see the aviator on the bridge. All four vessels moored at buoy No. 2 in the harbor of Havana.
Mr. McCurdy decided, as he had but one aeroplane in good condition and must use that every day at the meet at Camp Columbia, to defer his trial of flying from the platform on the Paulding. He expressed a hope of being able to make the flight from Key West again. It is the opinion of the officers of the destroyers, that Mr. McCurdy's covering only 90 of the 106 statute miles between Key West and Morro in no way detracted from the wonderful exhibition of nerve and daring displayed by him, and to alight in the ocean, as he did, unhurt, and his machine only slightly damaged, was even more wonderful than if he had safely landed at Camp Columbia, and further, the fact that Mr. McCurdy could and did steer a compass course is of great advantage to the future progress of flights across water. Captain R. E. Hayden, commandant of the naval station at Key West, planned and executed the methods of wirelessing information and safeguarding the aeroplane until the Roe, the first destroyer, could be reached.
The delightful personality of Mr. McCurdy made the ready co-operation of every one in Key West and on board the ships a foregone conclusion, and that he did not complete his journey was as great a disappointment to the officers of the destroyers as it was to Mr. McCurdy himself.
Thanks are due to the interest displayed by the weather bureaus both at Key West and at Havana, particularly to the Jesuit Fathers at Belen Observatory.
(Signed) Yates Stirling, Jr.
Civil Engineer F. O. Maxson, U. S. N., by careful triangulation, observed the altitude of McCurdy, as he passed over a point 44 feet distant from the northwest wireless mast at Key West, to be 684 feet above ground and 691 feet above sea level.
From Report of Commanding Officer U.S.S. “Terry”
This vessel left the dock at Key West naval station about 3.30 a. m., 75th meridian time, on January 30, 1911, and in company with the U. S. S. Drayton made a rendezvous with the U. S. S. Paulding and U. S. S. Roe at 6.40 a. m., at a point midway between Sand Key light and Morro Castle, Havana. At this point the Terry was stationed for the flight and kept position by the Drayton, bearing N. by E. ½ E. magnetic.
At 7.30 received wireless message that aviator had started from Key West, and at 8.23 that he had passed the U. S. S. Roe. At 8.23 went ahead on course S. by W. ¼ W., magnetic, at 24 knots. At 8.38 sighted aeroplane apparently astern of Drayton.
At 9.17 the aeroplane passed directly over the Terry at a height of about 700 feet. The aeroplane deviated slightly to the right of the course after passing the Terry, but his bearing was constantly kept with pelorus.
After the aeroplane passed the ship speed was increased to about 26 ½ knots.
At 9.32 the aeroplane was observed to glide quickly toward the water, ind at 9.33 it alighted on the water, with a splash, about three miles away. The ship was immediately headed for the point of fall by compass and at a speed of about 30 knots.
The machine could not be seen on the water at first, but after about three minutes' run it was sighted directly ahead, with the aviator safe, sitting on the machine and in the water about to his waist.
The pontoons of the machine were entirely submerged, and it seemed to me that the machine's only reserve buoyancy was in the bamboo parts and the gasoline tanks.
The vessel was backed full speed and stopped with the aeroplane about 30yards abreast the foremast, at 9.40, and two life-boats, one in charge of Ensign N. L. Nichols and one in charge of Ensign C. C. Slayton, sent to his assistance. Mr. Slayton's boat rescued the aviator and both boats waited with the aeroplane to assist in getting it on board the Paulding.
It was very difficult for us to keep the machine in sight in the water, and in future over-water flights the aviator should carry a furled flag of considerable size to be hoisted in case of having to land in the water.
Ensigns Slayton and Nichols noticed many sharks in the water after the boats had gathered around the aeroplane.
M. E. Trench.
The following extracts are made from McCurdy's account of this flight:
As I left the sand wastes of the Florida Keys behind me I was amazed to find the sea confronting me instead of being below me. I beheld a mirage, not as seamen see this phenomenon, but as though I were part of it.
It was impossible at first to discern the boats that I knew were stationed below in the waters surrounding Key West, but before me, as in a vertical picture, appeared the smoke signals of the torpedo-boats that I knew were many miles beyond me.
Having had no experience with mirages, I could not depend upon this uncanny guide with certainty, and I, therefore, turned to the compass for assistance.
As the strength of the sun's rays increased, the mirage disappeared and I sighted the Roe, the first of the destroyers in the line of flight.
As I sailed over the destroyers I could plainly see the sailors at quarters and the white uniforms of the men stood out distinctly in the warm clear sunlight.
Soon I became accustomed to this and the sensation was glorious as I rushed forward at 50 miles per hour toward this wonderful panorama which then appeared to recede from me. It seemed no time before the Morro and Havana were in plain view.
Previous to McCurdy's flight across the Florida Straits, the best performance in flying wholly over or across water was that of Robert Loraine. the English actor-aviator, who on September II,1910, made a flight of 55 miles across the Irish Sea from Holyhead, falling to the water just before he reached the Irish coast.
Altitude Flights.—On December 9, 1910, M. Legagneaux, at Pan, France, attained an official height of 10,409 feet, in a Bleriot monoplane and on December 27, 1910, Arch. Hoxsey, at Los Angeles, Cal., in a Wright biplane, attained an altitude of 11,474 feet. Unfortunately, the barograph which recorded this flight was not immediately calibrated and was injured during the subsequent flight in which this brilliant aviator lost his life.
Distance Flights.—The French Michelin prize for distance, during 1910, was finally won by Tabuteau at Buc on December 30, 1910, at which time Legagneaux's latest record of 320 miles was exceeded. The official distance of this flight was recorded as 360 miles and the time 7 hours, 48 minutes. He used a Farman biplane fitted with a Renault motor.
Passenger Carrying.—M. Roger Sommer recently took up six passengers in a large biplane at Douzy, France, and, after circling the aerodrome at a height of 100 feet, flew to Rouilly and return, a world's record for cross country flight with passengers and total weight lifted.
Soon after this M. Le Martin, at Pau, made a new world's record when he took up seven passengers, in a monoplane, for a five-minute flight.
The longest cross-country flight yet recorded is that of Captain Bellanger, of the French Army Aviation Corps, who flew from Paris to Pau, a distance of 500 miles, during which a landing was made at Bordeaux and at other places to renew gasoline.
Aeroplane Wireless Telegraphy
The following details of Mr. H. M. Horton's interesting aeroplane wireless plant are taken from his description in Aeronautics for January, 1911.
The entire aviation set weighs but thirty pounds and consists of: First, the power plant, a small compact storage battery that has an actual ampere hour capacity of 60 and a voltage of 6; a high frequency coil that weighs but 12 pounds, a helix with two small condenser tubes mounted in parallel and the transmitting key.
After describing the disappointments of the first installations, he says:
A way was finally worked out, however, to make all the stays on the machine, the engine, tanks, in fact all metal parts, act as part of the oscillating system. The aviator's levers being connected thereto and uninsulated, and being firmly grasped in his hands, the oscillations were actually passing through his body each time the transmitter was operated, but inasmuch as the other side of the oscillating system was carefully insulated, he experienced no ill effects.
Our new receiver consists of a very small loose couple, a set of head telephones and the "Pericon," all nested in such manner that the entire set is but 4x4 inches and weighs but 3 pounds. In testing the new receiver the first morning it arrived, we were not a little pleased to pick up Buffalo Station, 142 miles distant, and with high mountains surrounding us on all sides.
So far our experiments have been successful beyond our expectations, clear and loud signals coming from the air station no matter where she has gone, and because of the strength of the signals that have been received from our air station over the distances which we have now tried, we are led to believe that a proper war machine, with the wireless apparatus built therein as an integral part, will be able to transmit to and receive intelligences from headquarters stations any distance the aeroplane scout would be liable to be sent in times of war.
Recent tests in wireless aeroplane telegraphy conducted during the Aviation Meet at San Francisco, Cal., resulted in unqualified success. The apparatus weighed 31 lbs., and although installed in five minutes only, worked efficiently at 40 miles. The messages were sent from the machine by Lieut. Beck, U. S. A., the director of the meet, and the whole test was conducted by the U. S. Signal Corps. This test disclosed the fact that it is possible to approximate the distances of aeroplanes by the use of the wireless apparatus.
M. Maurice Farman has also been experimenting with aeroplane wireless telegraphy at the Buc aerodrome. He has sent a message from his biplane a distance of six miles and anticipates greater success in future.
In connection with Ely's flight from the Birmingham, recorded in my foregoing report, the following extract from an official report of that aviator's flight from the aviation field at San Francisco, Cal., to the U. S. S. Pennsylvania and return, on January 18, 1911, is interesting:
Extract from the Report of the Commanding Officer of the U.S.S. “Pennsylvania,” Captain C.F. Pond, U.S.N.
A special platform had previously been erected on board at the Navy Yard, Mare Island, Cal., the construction of which is fully shown in the accompanying photographs. This platform, somewhat modified from theone used by Mr. Ely in his flight from the U. S. S. Birmingham at Hampton Roads, Va., was 119 feet 4 inches in length, 31 feet 6 inches width in the clear, extending from the stern to the bridge-deck over the quarterdeck and after 8-inch turret, the forward end being 5 feet higher than the after end, and with a fantail of same width and 14 feet 3 inches in length sloping at an angle of about 30 degrees, over the stern. At the sides were fitted guard rails of 2-inch by 12-inch planking, and guide rails of 2-inch by 4-inch scantling, 12 feet apart, extended throughout its length. These guide rails, evidently intended to aid the aviator in determining his direction upon landing were of little or no use in that connection, but served a useful purpose in holding the lines connecting the sand bags at a proper height from the platform, though temporary blocks would have served equally as well. Every possible precaution was taken to insure the safety of the aviator. As fitted at the navy yard, the platform bore at its forward end a canvas screen extending from the platform to the temporary searchlight platform on the mainmast underneath the lower top, intended to catch the aviator and his machine should all other means fail, and, 10 feet from its forward end, a 2-inch by 12-inch plank extending across the face of the platform. These, and especially the plank, were very crude devices, and had they come into use would probably only have caused serious if not fatal injury to the aviator and his machine. Abaft the solid plank stop and spaced about 6 feet apart were fitted two canvas screens about 20 inches in height. These, together with the slight slope of the platform, were the only means provided in the original construction to check or stop the flight ot the machine. It was very evident that something more was needed and after several consultations with Messrs. Curtiss and Ely, during which several schemes were considered and rejected, it was finally decided to adopt a system of sand bags such as had been successfully used to check automobiles at racing meets. Accordingly 22 pairs of bags were placed on the platform, each bag containing 50 pounds of sand, accurately weighed to insure uniformity of action, so as not to slue the machine, each pair being connected by a 21-thread line hauled taut across the face of the platform over the guide rails. These bags, spaced about 3 feet apart, covered about 75 feet of the length of the platform. As it turned out they were ample for the purpose and worked perfectly and none of the other devices were called into play. On either side of the platform, awnings were spread, extending to the life-boat davits, to catch the aviator should he be thrown over the edge of the platform. Life preservers were supplied and expert swimmers stationed, while boats lay off on either side for use in case of necessity.
The flying machine, a Curtiss biplane, had been fitted with a central skid, its lower face about 5 inches above the plane of the wheels on which the biplane stood when at rest, to which were attached three pairs of flat steel hooks intended to catch the lines connecting the sand bags. These hooks, though simple in design, were extremely ingenious. When in position, their points, which were about 4 inches in length and with 4-inch opening, lay in a horizontal plane parallel with the face of the skid and further precaution was taken to round the extreme points so that they might notcatch in the cracks of the platform. Their shanks were about 16 inches in length, and they were secured in pairs, one on either side of the skid, by a through bolt about 5 inches from the forward end of the shank. So fitted they hung point down to the rear and projecting about 4 inches below the lower face of the skid, further depression being prevented by a wire loop and the hooks made positive in action by a spiral spring at the forward end of the shank so that they might give upon hitting any undue obstruction such as might be encountered upon rising from the ground and would immediately automatically regain their proper position. It is only necessary to add that they functioned perfectly. The machine was further fitted with two metal air tanks, one on either side and with a hydroplane forward for use in case, through accident, the landing was made in the water. There were no other special fittings, and the machine landed on its rubber-tired wheels, as upon ordinary occasions. Ely himself wore a life preserver about his shoulders improvised from the inner tube of a bicycle tire.
The ship was riding to the flood tide with the wind, a light breeze of about 10 to 15 miles about three points on the starboard quarter, the most disadvantageous point, both accelerating the speed of the aeroplane and sweeping it off its course. The U. S. S. Maryland lay about 1000 yards, two points abaft our starboard beam, and the U. S. S. West Virginia about 500 yards on our port bow.
The flight from the aviation field at Tanforan, 10 miles distant in an air line, was made at a speed of about 60 miles an hour, as determined by the time of flight, and at an elevation of about 1500 feet. When about a half mile distant the aeroplane made a graceful dip, passing directly over the Maryland at an elevation of about 400 feet, then circling and continuing its descent passed over the bows of the West Virginia at an elevation of about 100 feet, and completing the turn at about 500 yards on our starboard quarter headed directly for the ship. When about 75 yards astern it straightened up and came on board at a speed of about 40 miles an hour, landing plumb on the center line, missing the first 11 lines attached to the sand bags—but catching the next n, and stopping within 30 feet with 50 feet to spare, nothing damaged in the least, not a bolt or brace started, and Ely the coolest man on board. Hardly two minutes had elapsed from the time the aeroplane was first sighted, and no one had imagined he would make the landing on the first turn. The sand bags worked perfectly, stopping the machine, weighing, with the aviator, about 1000 pounds, with a speed of 40 miles an hour, within 30 feet, and, as Ely stated, with no perceptible jar. Six pairs of bags did the work, being hauled in over the guide rails close to the machine, the other five pairs being only slightly disturbed. The bags were caught, four oh the first set of hooks, three on the second, and four on the third set. As the aeroplane came on board, the upward draft from the wind striking the starboard quarter of the ship lifted it bodily and gave it a slight list to port. This is plainly shown in the accompanying photographs. When the size and weight of the machine, its speed of approach, the elevation from which it descended, and the effect of the wind are considered, the marvelous skill, accuracy of judgment and quickness of brain of the aviator may be imagined. The slightest error of judgment meant serious, if not fatal injury to both the aviator and his machine. Three feet more of elevation would have forced him to plunge directly into the canvas screen, and three to ten feet less elevation would have caused him to strike the fantail with consequences which can only be surmised.
The flight from the ship, an hour later, was comparatively tame. The aeroplane took the air easily, dipping to within about 10 feet from the surface of the water and then rising to an elevation of about 2000 feet over the city. Within a very few minutes Ely was back on the aviation field, landing within 10 feet of the starting line.
As a result of this experiment and of my observations on the aviation field, I desire to place myself on record as positively assured of the importance of the aeroplane in future naval warfare, certainly for scouting purposes. For offensive operations, such as bomb throwing, there has as yet, to my knowledge, been no demonstration of value, nor do I think there is likely to be. The extreme accuracy of control, as demonstrated by Ely, while perhaps not always to be expected to the same degree, was certainly not accidental and can be repeated and probably very generally approximated to. There only remains the development of the power and endurance of the machine itself, which, as with all mechanical things, is bound to come. There will be no necessity for a special platform. The flight away may be made either from a monorail or from a stay, and either from forward or aft, but preferably forward, while the return landing may be made on the water alongside, and the aviator and his machine afterwards brought on board. In fact, Curtiss has already demonstrated at San Diego the feasibility of not only landing upon the water, but under certain conditions the practicability of also flying from the surface of the water.
Photographs appended show the various stages of landing and departure and the details of the temporary platform used.
It was not originally contemplated to have this experiment require such a severe test of the aviator’s skill. It was anticipated that the ship would steam out to sea, head to wind, at any desired speed, from 10 to 20 knots, under which circumstances the gradual approach of the aeroplane would have rendered the landing less difficult. But the test was arranged, as above described, by the officers of the Pacific Fleet to whom the details were entrusted, in co-operation with the Aviation Committee and in accordance with the wishes of the aviator.
The following instructive remarks are taken from Ely’s account of the flight:
There was never a doubt in my mind that I would effect a successful landing on the deck of the Pennsylvania. I knew what a Curtiss biplane would do, and I felt certain that if the weather conditions were good there would be no slip.
The atmospheric conditions at the field appeared to be good, but, as I discovered after I got up in the air a few hundred feet, there was a good stiff breeze blowing.
The quality of the air was good. It was heavy and moist and of even pressure. The temperature was cold enough to make me uncomfortable, but I cannot say that the coldness was severe enough to incapacitate me or to interfere with the free use of all the members of my body.
As I came out over the bay above Hunters Point, I was about 1200 feet up. It was cloudy, smoky and hazy. I could not see the ships at first and did not locate them until I was within about two miles of them.
I was spinning along at about 60 miles an hour with the wind directly behind me, and when I sighted the Pennsylvania I saw that the stern was pointed into the wind, and when about a mile away I veered off to pass over what I supposed was the flagship California. As I neared her I dropped down from 1000 to about 400 feet in salute to the admiral. This ship, however, proved to be the Maryland, as the California was not in the bay, and I swung around the West Virginia, coming down to about 100 feet above the water, and pointed my machine for the Pennsylvania. I then made a sharp turn about 100 yards astern of that ship, gradually dropping down.
But there was an appreciable wind blowing diagonally across the deck of the cruiser, and I had to calculate the force of this wind and the effect it would have on my approach to the landing.
I found that it was not possible to strike squarely toward the center of the landing, so I pointed the aeroplane straight toward the landing, but on a line with the windward side of the ship. I had to take the chance that I had correctly estimated just how many feet the wind would blow me out of my course.
Just as I came over the overhang at the stern, I felt a sudden lift to the machine, as I shut down the motor, caused by the breaking of the wind around the stern. This lift carried me a trifle further than I intended going before coming in actual contact with the platform.
If anything I was brought to a stop a little too short and it probably would have been better to have had a little less weight in the sand bags.
The pneumatic life preserver that I had used during the flight from the Birmingham at Hampton Roads had proved cumbersome, interfering with the free use of my arms and legs, so on this occasion, I wore only a bicycle tube and found it was much better, as it did not hamper my movements at all.
Aeroplanes and Aviators
The following decisive and impartial opinion of Wilbur Wright on three types of aeroplanes and their future possibilities is of interest, in view of his accustomed reticence:
The monoplane is the ideal form for the racing machine, but the fault with this kind is that they have been built too small. The result is that they are very difficult to guide and that their stability is relative. To diminish the surfaces at the increase of speed results in lessening thesafety of the pilot. The biplane is heavier and consequently less rapid. Its construction is more difficult since we must take into consideration conditions which do not exist when there is one carrying surface. But its maneuvering is simpler and its stability greater. The triplane is almost an exaggeration. Its success in the future seems to me improbable. The addition of the third plane does not offer advantages for stability which deserve to be taken into consideration alongside of the inconveniences which it presents when we consider its resistance to forward motion."
Among the many useful fragments of advice left to us by the lamented John B. Moisant, is the following:
No man should build an aeroplane and then try to fly it unless he has had experience in the air. If the builder is also the inventor and desires to fly his invention, he should first have an experienced airman try it out for him. In other words, the machine should be tuned up by a capable aviator, for as it has been built, it may not be properly balanced or may have some defects to be found only by practical use of it.
Seamen will appreciate the force of this advice as the sailing of fast boats and yachts requires careful tuning up, by experienced seamen, after they are built and the risks involved in air craft are, of course, greater.
Up to the time of Ralph Johnstone's death, November 17, 1910. 22 aviators had perished during the year, not one of whom was an American. In the last half of the year 1910, out of nine who lost their lives four were Americans and out of 37 fatal accidents in the three years' history of aviation, 32 occurred during 1910.
It is notable, however, that not one death has occurred in the use of a Curtiss type machine. Henry Farman, whose machine is similar to the Curtiss, has never had a bad fall, although he has probably covered as much ground as any aviator now flying and has broken the record for sustained flight by being in the air 8 hours and 23 minutes.
Moisant said to a friend only a few days before his tragic death at New Orleans, December 31, 1910, "Most of the aviators who try for prizes will sooner or later get killed." It is a fact that most of the French aviators who have lost their lives in flying were out for prizes. Latham, who has had several falls caused by his own folly says that "Imprudence is the cause of the many deaths." To this I am inclined to add that the few deaths caused by defects in the machines have been due mainly to carelessness.
Although no aviator has as yet come to grief in an over-town flight, penalties will in future be inflicted by the Royal Aero Clubof the United Kingdom on all aviators who make unnecessary flights over towns, such flights being regarded as dangerous and useless in furthering the progress of aviation. This is the beginning of a safe and sound policy that it is hoped may be followed in America.
The circumstances attending the deaths of Hoxsey and Moisant have familiarized the public with the fact that all aviators recognize the peril of an atmosphere "full of holes" or a "swiss cheese" air. Balloonists years ago discovered this phenomenon, especially near the earth's surface. The "holes" are regarded as spots of partial vacuum into which an aeroplane will fall, at times, a hundred feet or more. Of course, the vacuum theory is not strictly correct, but the term "holes" furnishes a convenient expression of an effect. Whatever the cause of the drop, it is apparent that at such times if a machine is not inherently well balanced there is grave danger. I refer to this as a possible explanation of the cause of the fatal accidents to Moisant and Hoxsey, the unknown cause of which has given rise to many theories. The two machines used were a Bleriot monoplane and a late-model Wright biplane. Neither of these machines are operated with a front control elevator and it seems reasonable to suppose that the sudden upward pressure, resulting from such a drop, acting effectively under the rear control elevator of the Wright and the rear control and rear plane of the Bleriot at the end of a long lever, the comparatively light tail, was sufficient, in both cases, to throw the tail up to the danger point, thus causing the machines to revolve suddenly about their centers of mass situated near the front ends.
Neither Curtiss nor Farman have removed their front control elevators and it is hoped that they will not do so until this phase of the balance has been thoroughly investigated.
After the above was written it came to my knowledge that J. A. D. McCurdy, during a recent flight over Havana in a very gusty wind was seen to drop suddenly, near Camp Columbia, about 400 feet He rode a Curtiss biplane and probably found the front control a saving factor on that occasion.
In the amazing list of flying machines that have successfully flown, it is notable that already certain distinct types have become standard and it is probable that further departures from standard types will be made only in step by step processes and not in wide departures from prevailing theories.
The main object of new designers seems, naturally, to provide as nearly as possible an "automatic stability," or at least to get a machine that can be maintained in balance during flights with the least amount of skill on the part of the aviator. It is also apparent from a glance at many new designs that a low center of gravity is regarded as a means to this end, but an inspection of the standard types shows a preference by experienced designers for a high center of gravity and a comparison of the performances indicates that those having a high center of gravity are steadier in flight and easier to control.
The reason for this is explained, as follows, by Lieut. P. W. Wilcox, U. S. A. R. in The Airscout for January, 1911:
An aeroplane is necessarily a very light structure having large surfaces which are necessary to sustain it in flight. The engine, the gasoline and oil tanks, the radiator and passengers, form the bulk of the weight and in a very concentrated form, so that the center of gravity depends upon the center of mass formed by these heavy weights. The rest of the machine being very light has practically no inertia, so that when the machine in flight meets a disturbance in the air such as a side current, if the surfaces above and below the center of mass are not equal the machine will tend to rotate about this center of mass. If the center of gravity be so placed that it is in the center of the machine the tendency to rotate will be neutralized and the side currents will not appreciably affect the balance of the machine. It has often been said that even if a low center of gravity machine be unbalanced by a side current, it would regain its balance before falling any appreciable distance by the parachute effect of the low center of gravity. However, when a machine starts to fall, it almost invariably falls forward directly down, if the rudders are in the rear, so that the sustaining effect of the planes does not amount to anything.
Nearly all countries on the face of the globe are now showing marked interest in aviation and are endeavoring to keep abreast of the times in its development. The greatest activity, however, continues in France, which country evidently intends to increase her lead in the progress of this new art. The Director of the French Military Aviation Service has recommended that the already numerous number of aerodromes be increased through government grant and the French Senate has formed a special Department of Aviation to act conjointly with well known aviators and aeronauts with the idea of furthering aeronautics generally.
A recent test of the new Maurice Farman biplane at Bue resulted in this type machine being adopted by the French Army. This isspecially interesting in view of the success that has attended the distinctly French types of monoplanes in the various contests during the past year. This Farman biplane exceeded the requirements of the specifications by rising from the ground to a height of 300 meters within six minutes and attaining a speed of more than 80 kilometers per hour.
A recent combined flight of an aerial fleet from Pau to Tarbes and return created a distinct military impression. Five Bleriot monoplanes left the aerodrome at Pau in line formation. Four were military machines driven by three army lieutenants and one navy lieutenant. One was driven by a civilian aviator. The flight to Tarbes was led by the naval officer, but the return flight was led by an army officer and it is reported that they "circled over the crowd maneuvering like a squadron at sea."
Great activity in aviation is also promised in Germany. A number of notable cross-country flights have taken place. Military machines are being tested, military experts are being instructed in aviation and an aviation school at Mulhouse, in Alsace, the home of the Aviatik machine, is making good progress.
The Emperor's brother, Prince Henry, obtained a pilot's license in an Aviatik biplane on November 19, 1910, after having been a student of aeronautics for two years, and it is reported from Berlin that the Emperor contemplates holding a review shortly, of those German officers who have qualified as aviators.
An "aerial torpedo," invented by a Swedish officer, will soon be tested at the Krupp works. It is said to be very light, to have a range of three miles and a velocity of 150 feet per second increasing to 1500 feet per second. It is to be launched by a special apparatus and to carry an explosive charge of two and a half pounds. Presumably it belongs to the rocket type but its use has not been explained as yet.
In England, which has been somewhat backward in its encouragement of aviation, there were 50 licensed aviators on December 31, 1910. An aeronautical reserve such as has been formed in the United States, is being organized under the auspices of the Royal Aero Club of the United Kingdom. This club has placed at the disposal of naval officers two biplanes fitted with Gnome motors and has deputed a skilled aviator to instruct naval officers in their operation.
It is notable that one of the new Paulhan biplanes has been bought by the British authorities without previous test. Since its purchase, however, some cross-country nights and some altitude and endurance tests have been made with it, including one flight of one and a half hours duration.
The peculiar construction of the Paulhan biplane permits it to be packed in a crate measuring 15' 6" x 3' 3" x 3' 3" notwithstanding the fact that its length is 25' 6" and its spread 38'.
The first Japanese to win his pilot license (No. 283), was Takygana Yoshitooki. He used a Farman biplane.
The interesting hydro-aeroplane of M. Henri Fabre, which possesses the salient constructional features of Paulhan's biplane, is the first heavier than air machine that has made successful flights starting from and alighting on the water. Its first series of flights were made on May 17, 1910 and recent tests have demonstrated all that is claimed for it. It is fitted with a 50 h. p. Gnome motor and a two bladed Chauviere propeller.
Mr. Glenn Curtiss was probably the first to experiment with hydroplanes attached to an aeroplane. His experiments, commenced on Lake Keuka at Hammondsport more than a year ago, have recently culminated in successful flights from the water and in alighting on the water at San Diego, Cal. In the preparation for these flights he has simply applied to one of his old standard machines the requisited floating power, by attaching extemporized hydroplanes, with a view to studying the attachments necessary to convert his machine into an effective hydro-aeroplane capable of alighting on and starting from either land or water.
The advantages of this to the navy are apparent when it is considered that successful practice and instruction in aviation requires a suitable aerodrome and that any ship equipped with aeroplanes may now utilize the smooth waters of any harbor for such purposes.
On February 17, 1911, the U. S. S. Pennsylvania being in the vicinity of San Diego, Cal., Mr. Glenn Curtiss flew from North Island to that ship and landed on the water alongside. His aeroplane was hoisted on board and later was hoisted out when he quickly arose from the water and flew back to North Island.
Mr. Curtiss has kindly offered to instruct officers in the use of his machines and Lieut. Ellyson, U. S. N., now under instruction, has already made successful nights. Ensign Charles F. Pousland, U. S. N., will also be ordered to this duty.
The following information is gleaned from a report of Mr. Curtiss' aeroplane visit to the Pennsylvania, by Lieut. Ellyson:
The water was smooth with light northwest airs, and there was a current running at about 4 knots per hour. No special preparations were made on board the Pennsylvania, except to lower one boat, in order that there would be sufficient room to land the machine on the superstructure deck
The aeroplane used was a standard Curtiss 8-cylinder machine with front control removed and fitted with a pontoon instead of wheels. The engine used was rated at 50 horse-power when making r200 r. p. m., and was fitted with a traction propeller 7 feet in diameter. The use of a propeller in front, which was experimental, obscured the vision somewhat and rendered the machine less easily controlled. This will not be used in future, as there is no difficulty in performing this same maneuver with the front control in place and the propeller mounted in rear of the planes.
A wherry and a dinghy were used to make fast the steadying lines, and no difficulty whatever was experienced in hoisting the machine both in and out, as will be seen by the photographs appended.
Encouragement is being given to the development of hydroaeroplanes in Switzerland by the offering of a $2000 prize, the "Eyenard prize," for an all-Swiss aeroplane piloted by a Swiss aviator which shall make the best time in a flight from one end of Lake Geneva to the other, alighting on the water three times. Each start from the water must be made within a distance of 1000 meters and none of the stops must be longer than 30 minutes.
This will doubtless provide an additional attraction for tourists and will be a long stride in the direction of aqua-aerial yachting, as the dangers of a fall will be minimized.
I regard the introduction Of the hydro-aeroplane as one of the most important steps in the rapid development of aviation that has yet been undertaken.
What Has Been Accomplished
Ely has proved that an aeroplane can leave a ship and return to it, even with crude preparations that may be readily improved upon for practical work. Others have demonstrated that an aeroplane can remain in flight for a long time, from five to eight hours or more. Others have demonstrated that observations can be made from great altitudes, that photographs can be taken, that reconnoissances can be made, that messages can be sent and received by wireless telegraph, that passengers can be carried, that the aeroplane may be stowed on board in suitably dimensioned crates or boxes and readily assembled for use in less than one hour, and that it is possible to hoist an aeroplane out and in, as you would a ship's boat, to exercise it over smooth water. Mr. Curtiss has also recently demonstrated that it is not necessary for the water to be smooth.
This has all been done within a year and mostly, in a few months, since the date on which the navy first began to take serious notice of the possibilities in aviation. In this short space of time many new ideas for improvement in the aeroplane for naval service and in the accessories necessary for naval use have been brought to the eve of development and there is reason to believe that after a little of our anticipated experience with this auxiliary in the navy, its spheres of usefulness will be generally acknowledged.
Atmospheric conditions still govern these performances to a great extent, but the perfect calm that was necessary a few years ago is no longer required and fresh breezes do not now deter even the most prudent of aviators.
The aeronautical exhibition held at Boston February 20-25,1911, although less extensive than that held at Paris in October, 1910, clearly showed that great improvement in the character of aeroplane craftsmanship has been made, in this country, within the last six months. The workmanship on the new machines compares favorably with that of the best French machines exhibited during the meet at Belmont Park.
The manufacture of aeronautical accessories has become an established industry in the United States and it is now possible for anyone desiring to construct an aeroplane to buy from many firm nearly all the parts of successful machines, ready prepared in accordance with proved standards. This standardization makes for safety in the use of such parts as spars, struts, ribs, surfaces, braces, wires, turn-buckles, bolts and joints.
There has been notable progress also in the manufacture of aeroplane motors and their accessories, especially in those of the revolving type. Although some have not been thoroughly tested in flight, several appear to embody distinct improvements over the celebrated "Gnomes." The improvement of the two-cycle engine was also a notable feature at the Boston show, and it would seem that a reasonable certainty of action, or reliability sufficient for aerial navigation, is now practically assured.
For the information of officers interested in becoming proficient in aviation the following requirements are noted:
Rules and Regulations for the Issue of Pilots’ Licenses
Applicants must pass the three following tests:
- Two distance tests, each consisting in covering, without touching the ground, a closed circuit of not less than five kilometers in length.
- An altitude test consisting in rising to a minimum height of 50 meters above the starting point
- The (B) test may be made at the same time as one of the (A) tests.
The course over which the aviator shall accomplish the aforesaid circuits must be indicated by two posts situated not more than 500 meters from each other.
After each turn made around a post the aviator will change his direction so as to leave the other post on his other side. The circuit will thus consist of an uninterrupted series of figure eights, each circle of the figures alternately encircling one of the posts. The distance credited over the course covered between the two turns shall be the distance separating the two posts.
For each of the three tests the landing shall be made:
- By stopping the motor not later than the time when the machine touches the ground.
- At a distance of less than 50 meters from a point designated by the applicant before the test.