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A History of Aeronautics by Marsh and Vivian

Chanute came to the conclusion that any young


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gliders were found so stable, more especially the biplane form, that in the end Chanute permitted amateurs to make trials under guidance, and throughout the whole series of experiments not a single accident occurred. Chanute came to the conclusion that any young, quick, and handy man could master a gliding machine almost as soon as he could get the hang of a bicycle, although the penalty for any mistake would be much more severe.

At the conclusion of his experiments he decided that neither the multiple plane nor the biplane type of glider was sufficiently perfected for the application of motive power. In spite of the amount of automatic stability that he had obtained he considered that there was yet more to be done, and he therefore advised that every possible method of securing stability and safety should be tested, first with models, and then with full-sized machines; designers, he said, should make a point of practice in order to make sure of the action, to proportion and adjust the parts of their machine, and to eliminate hidden defects. Experimental flight, he suggested, should be tried over water, in order to break any accidental fall; when a series of experiments had proved the stability of a glider, it would then be time to apply motive power. He admitted that such a process would be both costly and slow, but, he said, that 'it greatly diminished the chance of those accidents which bring a whole line of investigation into contempt.' He

saw the flying machine as what it has, in fact, been; a child of evolution, carried on step by step by one investigator after another, through the stages of doubt and perplexity which lie behind the realm of possibility, beyond which is the present day stage of actual performance and promise of ultimate success and triumph over the earlier, more cumbrous, and slower forms of the transport that we know.

Chanute's monograph, from which the foregoing notes have been comprised, was written soon after the conclusion of his series of experiments. He does not appear to have gone in for further practical work, but to have studied the subject from a theoretical view-point and with great attention to the work done by others. In a paper contributed in 1900 to the American Independent, he remarks that 'Flying machines promise better results as to speed, but yet will be of limited commercial application. They may carry mails and reach other inaccessible places, but they cannot compete with railroads as carriers of passengers or freight. They will not fill the heavens with commerce, abolish custom houses, or revolutionise the world, for they will be expensive for the loads which they can carry, and subject to too many weather contingencies. Success is, however, probable. Each experimenter has added something to previous knowledge which his successors can avail of. It now seems likely that two forms of flying machines, a sporting type and an exploration type, will be gradually evolved within one or two generations, but the evolution will be costly and slow, and must be carried on by well-equipped and thoroughly informed scientific men; for the casual inventor, who relies upon one or two happy inspirations, will have no chance of success whatever.'

Follows Professor John J. Montgomery, who, in the true American spirit, describes his own experiments so well that nobody can possibly do it better. His account of his work was given first of all in the American Journal, Aeronautics, in January, 1909, and thence transcribed in the English paper of the same name in May, 1910, and that account is here copied word for word. It may, however, be noted first that as far back as 1860, when Montgomery was only a boy, he was attracted to the study of aeronautical problems, and in 1883 he built his first machine, which was of the flapping-wing ornithopter type, and which showed its designer, with only one experiment, that he must design some other form of machine if he wished to attain to a successful flight. Chanute details how, in 1884 and 1885 Montgomery built three gliders, demonstrating the value of curved surfaces. With the first of these gliders Montgomery copied the wing of a seagull; with the second he proved that a flat surface was virtually useless, and with the third he pivoted his wings as in the Antoinette type of power-propelled aeroplane, proving to his own satisfaction that success lay in this direction. His own account of the gliding flights carried out under his direction is here set forth, being the best description of his work that can be obtained:--


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