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A Project for Flying by Robert Hardley

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A Project for Flying.

In Earnest at Last!

1871

Price, TWENTY-FIVE CENTS.

A Project for Flying.

In Earnest At Last.

The following appeared in one of our public journals of the date indicated

_To the Editor of the Tribune._

SIR:--You rightly appreciate the interest with which the popular mind regards all efforts in the direction of navigating the air.

One man of my acquaintance was deeply interested to know the results of the California Experiment, because he alone, as he believed, had questioned Nature and learned from her the great secret of aerial navigation.

To-day's _Tribune_ brings us the full account of the machine, its performance and _modus operandi_; and without the authority of my friend, I can pronounce at once that the thing is simply ridiculous. It is the same old useless effort, with the same impossible agents. But to-day, within twenty miles of Trinity steeple, lives the man who can give to the world the secret of navigating the air, in calm or in storm, with the wind or against it; skimming the earth, or in the highest currents, just as he wills, with all the ease, and all the swiftness, and all the exactitude of a bird.

My friend is only waiting for an opportunity to perfect his plan, when he will make it known.

Yours truly,

W.H.K.

_New York; June 14th_, 1869.

Two years have passed and no progress has been made in aerial navigation.

The California Experiment failed. The great Airship "CITY OF NEW YORK," had previously escaped the same fate, only because more prudent than her successor she declined a trial. The promising and ambitious enterprise of Mr. Henson has hardly been spoken of for a quarter of a century. And notwithstanding the fact that the number of ascensions in balloons in the United States and Europe must be counted by thousands, and although the exigencies of recent wars have made them useful, yet it must be confessed that the art of navigating the air remains in much the same state in which the brothers Montgolfiers left it at the close of the last century.

The reason for this want of progress in the art referred to, is not to be sought in any want of interest in the subject, or of enthusiasm in prosecuting experiments. Certainly not for want of interest in the subject because _to fly_, has been the great desideratum of the race since Adam. And we find in the literature of every age suggestions for means of achieving flight through the air, in imitation of birds; or for the construction of ingenious machines for aerial navigation. And if history and traditions are to be credited, it would be equally an error to suppose that our age alone had attempted to put theory into practice in reference to navigating the air.

Even the fables of the ancients abound with stories about flying: that of Dedalus and his son Icarius, will occur to every reader. And the representations of the POETS, and the allusions in HOLY WRIT equally prove how natural and dear to the mind of man is the idea of possessing "wings like a dove."

But it is safe enough to assert, that hitherto, all attempts at _navigating_ the air have been failures.


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