Accidents which have lately occurred to the Lebaudy airship and the Langley aerodrome (described respectively in our issues of December 5 and October 17) have shown the weak points in both the "lighter than air" and the "heavier than air" types of flying machine. The Lebaudy airship came to grief on November 21, by being driven against some trees when making a landing, while the Langley aerodrome was again launched over the Potomac River on December 8, with the result that it darted upward, described a circle, and plunged into the river, striking bottom and being afterward pulled with difficulty out of the mud, whence it came in a demolished condition. Mr. Manly, the operator, fortunately escaped with a wetting. The accident was laid to the failure of the launching apparatus to work properly; but as the reports state that the machine shot straight forward some yards before darting upward and turning a somersault, it would seem as if the launching apparatus was not so much at fault as that the operator was unable to control the aeroplanes, or, at any rate, to control them quickly enough to avoid disaster. This accident has put an end to Prof. Langley's experiments for the year, and it has again demonstrated that a flying machine constructed on the aeroplane, or "heavier than air," system, is an exceedingly difficult thing to control. The Lebaudy disaster, which will be found illustrated in the current Supplement, has shown the weaknesses of' the airship type of flying machine, should a moderate puff of wind occur at an inopportune moment, when a landing is being made.
Originally appeared in Scientific American, 89, December 19, 1903, p. 462.