IN a secluded spot near Little Mountain, Ohio, Mr. W. E. Irish, an electrical and mechanical engineer, has for several weeks been experimenting with an aerial sailing craft of two-man capacity, which he asserts is the result of years of experimental study. The inventor claims that his experiments, although far from complete, clearly demonstrate the sovereignty of man over the aerial regions, and he believes the time is very near when aerial crafts sailing through the atmosphere will be as common as the bicycle on the highways is to-day.
View of Single Wing.
This aerial sailing craft, with its 26 pairs of fixed wings, made of large feathers, glued by their quills into light wood slats, measured in spread 20 feet, height 12 feet, and length, fore and aft, 8 feet, and the craft weighed complete on wheels, as illustrated, 55 pounds. It had an area of wing surface measuring 500 square feet, which consisted of 7,000 carefully selected large wing feathers.
The pairs of wings were bent at their junctions to form dihedral angles and then arranged 1 foot apart on a diamond-shaped frame, so that the wing on each side of the craft were inwardly inclined within six inches of each other, and <b>therefore ends</b> afforded less support than the center. The normal position of the craft and its center of gravity imparted to all the wings a lifting angle of 1 to 1O to guard against its pitching forward. The center of support is below the center axis of the system, but high above the animated center of gravity, which by it's movements controls the craft.
The inventor has attempted to apply to a mechanical contrivance the principles involved in navigation in the large hovering and sailing birds. The first series of experiments were made while the areial sailing craft was suspended from a long inclined cable, down which it was free to glide, or it could be arrested and held at any point of its course by means of a grip, controlled by the operator in a car, who as the animated and intelligent center of gravity moved instructively or with intent to otherwise control the craft, and here, as the ballast and center of gravity, the experimenter acquired the knowledge, skill and courage to operate the craft while in perfect safety, before venturing to freely launch himself on the air.
The fall of the craft down the inclined cable-way gave the necessary impetus to launch it on the atmosphere, and the wind lifted it, while the weight of the experimenter at the center of gravity moved forward, backward, or right or left, to alter the angle of incidence of the stationary wings and accordingly cause the craft to ascend, descend or turn and travel along a gradually ascending or descending slope or curved course, as willed by the operator.
It was clearly demonstrated by the experiments that the knowledge and skill required by the operator to control the craft in air so that it would promptly ascend, descend or turn was very quickly acquired by practicing on the suspended craft.
In free flight the craft, with its wing surfaces directed at a small angle below the horizon, is first allowed to run down a steep grade on its wheels, preferably against the wind, until it approaches the bottom of its course, when the angle of incidence is suddenly changed from a dipping to a lifting angle by the backward movement of the operator, and the craft takes an inclined course up the air and until it reaches its maximum elevation, on the upward tack, when the operator leans forward, thereby shifting the center of gravity, which again alters the angle of incidence of the wings to "dip," and the craft will again turn and make a downward tack, during which it will gather the accelerative force of gravity to impel it up the next tack, and, strange though it may appear, the craft can be made to rise to a greater elevation each successive upward tack, as it is further aided by the feather tips and the wind.
Thus Mr. Irish's aerial sailing craft, which greatly depends on the force of gravity for progressive motion, sails on the air by vertically inclined tacks instead of horizontally inclined tacks as a sailing ship driven on the water by the wind. And whereas the sailing boat is drawn deep into the water and greatly retarded by the force of gravity, by reason of its having to plough a deep furrow in a medium 800 times more dense than the atmosphere, before it can advance, which it is quite unable to do directly against the wind because the wind alone propels it and makes a rudder necessary to direct its course while the aerial sailing craft is driven in any direction in the lighter element, air, by the constant force of gravity, which so seriously retards the marine craft, on the down tack, and by the accumulated force of gravity, or impetus, acquired in previous fall, aided by the wind and by the compressed air which, escaping from under the wings, turns up the feather tips and reacts on them to impart a continuous forward push on the up tack; further, the aerial craft does not require a rudder and can sail much faster and directly against the wind, or in any other direction, and always find infinitely less resistance.
The experiments proved so satisfactory that Mr. Irish has already commenced the construction of a one-man-capacity machine, which will be driven horizontally at great speed by mechanical power. It will be made much stronger, heavier and smaller than the sailing craft, so as to be able to withstand the great strain due to the high velocity, and the wings, which will offer less than half the surface, will be made of other material, but having exactly the same concave-convex form as the wings made of natural feathers.
This machine will be driven by a novel constant pressure, gradual combustion gasoline motor of 1O horse-power, weighing only 5 pounds per actual horse-power, but it must also be able to travel as the aerial sailing craft, by the power of the natural forces alone.
The intention is to test this machine, first as an automatic aerial torpedo and then as a rapid transit passenger craft, and there are other stipulations which have to be complied with, but the inventor is confident of being able to meet all the conditions required and in a perfectly satisfactory manner.
The model illustrated herewith is truly a wide departure in aerial navigation craft.
Originally appeared in