THE following pages consist of a series of articles on "Progress in
Flying Machines," as distinguished from balloons, which have been
published in The Railroad and Engineering Journal (now redesignated as
The American Engineer), of New York City.
The first article appeared in October, 1891, and the series comprised 27
issues. It was at first expected to explore the subject in six or eight
articles, but investigation disclosed that far more experimenting of
instructive value had been done than was at first supposed, and not only have
these articles run to greater length than was expected, but they have been
thought worthy of issuing in book form.
Naturally enough the public has taken little heed of the progress really
made toward the evolution of a complicated problem, hitherto generally
considered as impossible of solution. It will probably be surprised to learn
how much has been accomplished toward overcoming the various difficulties
involved, and how far the elements of a possible future success have
accumulated within the last five years.
The writer's object in preparing these articles was threefold:
- To satisfy himself whether, with our present mechanical knowledge and
appliances, more particularly the light motors recently developed, men might
reasonably hope eventually to fly through the air. He now thinks that this
question can be answered in the affirmative.
- To save the waste of effort on the part of experimenters, involved in
trying again devices which have already failed; and to point out, as much as
may be, the causes of such failures. To this end an earnest effort was made
to gather all the experimental records which were accessible, and to obtain a
thorough understanding of them, so as to bring out clearly the reason of the
failure. The reader must be the judge as to the measure of success which
has attended this effort.
- To furnish an account of those recent achievements which render it less
chimerical than it was a few years ago to experiment with a flying machine,
and to give such an understanding of the principles involved and of the
results thus far accomplished, as to enable an investigator to distinguish
between an inadequate proposal, sure to fail, and a reasonable design, worthy
of consideration, and perhaps (after due investigation and preliminary trial)
of experiment upon an adequate scale.
CHICAGO, January, 1894.
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