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California Digital Newspaper Collection > Daily Alta California > 25 August 1889 > SAILING IN THE AIR.

Daily Alta California, Volume 81, Number 56, 25 August 1889 — SAILING IN THE AIR. [ARTICLE]

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Attempts at -Aerial. Navigation in the Last Hundred Yearsi


There Are Scores of .Devices, but None of Them Can Be Depended Upon in a. ■ Trip Through Space. ,

Chicago Tinrs.

Recent developments prove that Darina Green was something of a prophet as well as a poet when he reasoned to himself in the quiat precincts of the barn loft, in which his experiments were conducted : ; ." The birds can fly An' why can't I! Must we give in,'* Says he, with a grin, . " T the bluebird aa' pheba ' Are smarter "n we be f Jest fold our bands an' see the swaller, An' blackbird, an' catbird beat us holler 1 ' ■ Doos the little chatterin', sassy wren, No bigger 'n my thumb, know more than men ? Jest show ma that ! ;>J - . -Er prove 't the bat He's got more brains than'a in my hat An' I'll back down, an' not till then ! " and they also prove that tbe day is far distant •when the inventive genius will make the terrestrial and celestial spheres subject to common occupancy by the introduction of controllable balloons or flying machines. For the Campbell airship everything has been promised; thousands of dollars have been spent on the machine, and scientists have believed the aerial problem all bat solved. Notwithstanding all this, Professor Hogan found the machine as unmanageable as the brothers JMontgollier found their hot-air bags a century ago. At this writing it i 3 believed that the airship is a wreck and that the name of Professor Ilogan has been added to the long list of martyrs to the problem of flight. . If the Campbell machine is a failure, and there is little doubt that it is, it has only followed in the wake of others which have had an equal showing for success. For the last 106 years there has been a succession of aeronautical experiments, November 21, 1783, being the date of the asoent of the tirst balloon which carried with it a load of human freight. In all this time bat little real progress has been made. "Air-ship companies" have been organized all over the United States, England and continental Europe, but what at lasting value has been accomplished! The Montgolfier balloon* went 'up and out, out in whatever direction the wind tossed them, as helpless aa a humming-bird in a cyclone. The modern balloon, although it has "evoluted" into an ' "air-ship," behaves precisely in the same manner. Tireless inventors have worked and toiled for a century, always with the object of their dreams in sight, but never within their grasp. - Numerous rudders, wings and other appliances have been invented and attached to the phantom which haunts the mind of the aeronautical enthusiast by night and by day, yet the trackless atmosphere remains unutilized as far as navigation is concerned and the air-snip of 18S9 rises but little higher and sails but little farther than did the experimental Charliere December 1, 1783. The name of the man who first conceived the idea of aerial flight has been lost "in the wide, revolving shades of centuries past." Prehistoric man perhaps sawed the air with his long arms and longed for wings as he rapturously watched the graceful motions of the denizens of the air. The Grecian fable of Dredalus and Icarius making for themselves wings of wax goes far to establish the fact that aerial navigation was dreamed of even in that remote age. The ' oldest ' of the many semi-authentic accounts of men trying to fly tell us of how Simon Magnus, the magician, lost his life during the reisrn of the Emperor Nero in an attempt to disprove the coup'.et given in the opening of this article. There is documentary evidence to the effect that a Spanish monk away back in the misty past succeeded in flying over a mile from his perch on the top of a tail tower. Roger Bacon, an enlightened monk who lived in the first decade of the thirteenth century, seems to have had somo pretty good ideas of the science ot aeronautics or aerostation. His preachings on the subject were so eloquent that old and young alike were given to spending honrs in. vain attempt* to fly. Some genius of the times proposed" that children be provided with artificial wings and that they be taught the art of graceful movement as soon as able to walk. •• Little, ot course, was accomplished in that direction, as far at least aa actual flight was concerned, but many are said to have become remarkably proficient in using their wings as a means ot accelerating locomotion. - The germ of ballooning, in the present acceptance of the term, had its origin in the experiments of Professor Black of Ediaburutu Scotland. The ideas entertained by Professor Black appear to have been rather crude, or wholly wanting, until after the discovery of hydrogen gas by Cavendish in 17GG. In experimenting with inflammable air, as hydrogen gas was called at that time. Black noted its adaptability to the science of aeronautics and coiumu licated the fact to Dr. Monro. who, it appears, considered it a matter of but little moment, ignoring as he did the request of Professor Black, to be furnished with tbin animal membranes, from which ho proposed to construct baas of feathery lightness. Prior to this the Scotch professor had made B6me signal failures in aeronautical experiments with swine's bladders and paper bags. At about the time- the Btaid Scots were bothering" their brains over the subject of aerial flight the French eavants were also striving to elucidate the puzzling problem. AfAvington, France, November 12th, 1789, Stephen Montgoliier, one of a firm of two brothers-^-Joßeph and Stephen, paper-makers of Anonay, France — succeeded, in canning a balloon-shaped bas to rise to the height ot eight feet. This pioneer balloon (the word is from tbe French and means a large] ball) might have risen higher had it been permitted, but as the experiments were' conducted in a building it could rise no higher than the ceiling. The combustibles used' were wool and straw. The wool, according, to Sloatgolfier's reasoning, generated electrical properties, the repellaot qualities of which forced the balloon from tne earth. Queer reasoning, indeed, but it suited tbe times. The materials used in the construction of this old-time lyinginaohine, its -general outlines and after finish, were almost identical with those employed at the present time. The bag itself waa "of silk cloth, covered with 'a varnish made by dbaolvin? caoutchouc in oil of turpentine. In June of the year " following the "a^cenMon" in the house at Avignon a wave of excitment floated over Franca and extended as a ripple to the furthermost European countries when the Montgolfier brothers sent up a balIcon thirty-five feet in diameter to a height of SCO yards. Soon after another one was sent up with a wicker-work car attached and having as passengers a Bheep, a duck aad a j rooster. The poor rooster waa the iir>l living creature to Buffer accident as a direct result of tbe balloon craze; he sustained a fracture of the wing through the sheep becoming unmau■ageable and falling upon him. ' While the Montgolners are recognized as the real inventors, of the : balloon, they, were not, however,. the first of the human species to risk their lives to its , uncertain and erratic flight. . Pilatre dea Kosiers and the Marquis d'Arlandes carried off tbe palm for undaunted bravery when they made the fiwt aerial voyage at "Paris, November '21, 1783. The balloon was a hot-air afiair, 74 feet high and 43 feet in diameter. ; The ascension was tbe sensation of the ■ times, and the . intrepid . Hosiers and d'Arlandes were the lions of the hour. The balloon remained ■ suspended in t he air but twenty-five minutes. These, ■ however, were the most memorable* minutes of the eighteenth century.- :■ ;^S3ESF&V!fI9tf49WWMOhI(j 'The human family are born imitators The excitement created by the Rosiers-d'Ariandea trip hatched ! embryo navigator* of .the. air in amazing numbers.'- Every scientist and pseudop cientist thought himself an aeronaut, and was willing to allow himself to be hurled ak v ward. - if for no .other gratification than that caused

by hearing the ladies scream. Ten days after Kosiers and d'Arlandea made the initial trip. December 1,. 1783,- two. other ascensions occurred in Paria— on» a hot-air, the other a gaainflated balloon. The latter ascended from the Tuileries garden, and carried Professor Charles, a young M. D., and his friend, M. Robert. The two ascensions are said to have been witnessed by every inhabitant of the . gay French capital. The gas balloon, of course, mounted to the greater height, something near 10,000 feet — an achievement which excited the wildest enthusiasm and the most fanciful anticipations. During the same month^ the first ascension waa made in Paris. November. 1733, Sig. Lunardi made the first balloon voyage in England, starting from Woolwich. Ballooning soon became common amusement, and within fourteen months the English channel had been crossed by two intrepid navigators of tbe air. This remarkable and dangerous feat was accomplished Janaary 7. 1785. The aeronauts were Blanchard and Jeffries: the last-named gentleman was a resident of the United States and a physician of Boston. , .Poor Kosiers was not only tho first to mako an ascensiou. but waa also the first to lose his life in a balloon accident. When the news reached Paris that the channel had been crossed by the English aeronaut and his foolhardy American companion, Rosiers determined to outdo Johnny Bull and Brother Jonathan or die in the attempt. Blind devotion to his art impelled him on and he lost hia life, as ab?o did his companion. Jeffries and Blanchard narrowly escaped death from drown1 ing; in fact, they would have been thrown into tbe channel had they not not emptied the oar of everything movable except themselves. even to their clothing. In order to guard | against alighting npon any such unstable footing Kosiers constructed a sort ot double balloon. The larger of the two was filled with gas and the smaller with hot air. The idea was to have combustibles at hand and to quickly generate heat should the buoyancy of the gas balloon in way be impared. The start had just been made, and the balloon had been in the air bat a few minuter when it was seen to collapse and fall with lightning-like rapidity. Both aeronauts wero crushed into shapeless masses. .The companion of Rosiers in this ill-starred adventure was a natural philosopher by the name of Komain. Another account of (his first aerial fatalitj says that it is believed that a premature attempt to generate heat for the smaller balloon precipitated the calamity. One would naturally thiuk that such an occurrence would cool tbe ardor of balloon cranks, but it did not; the sport continued as exciting and popular aa ever. The tir.-tt jump from tbe clouds with a parachute was made a few years later by Garn'erin, in 1797, October 22d. Balloons were first used for reconnaissance by the French at the battle of Fleurus in 17. > I. where it is claimed many pointers were obtained by sending up a captive balloon over the enemy's works. The drag-rope, the parachute, the valve, and the anchor were added to the balloonist'a paraphernalia between the time of its invention and the beginning of the nineteenth century; as much has not been added since. During the Siege of Paris, 1870-IS7I, sixtyfour balloons, carrying mails and passengers, were sent out of the beleaguered city. Besides the mails carried, something like 3,000.000 , letters. ICI persons went with them. Sometimes they were manned by a single aeronaut. However, at one time nine made their escape by that route. One of these traveled to Christiania, Norway, in fourteen hours, a distance of OSO miles, or at the speed of seventy miles an hour. Threo out of the total of sixty-four of these air-messengers were lost. Two were never heard of, but the third was discovered in Natal, South Africa, in 1874, with ita bas ot mail and two grinning xkeletons, 5000 miles from the starting point. This is the longest tiip a balloon is known to have taken. The greatest height to which aeronauts have attained, when possessed ot their senses, was 37,000 feet, or* about seven miles : this by Glaishor and Coxwell at Wolvernamptoa", England, September 5, 18G2. Since that time, according to a self- registering barometer they took with them, three French adventurers reached a height of between eight and nine miles. Two of the men died and the third was insensible when the rarified atmosphere caused the balloon to safely descend. The first flying machine ever constructed, if, indeed, there has ever been a machine built deserving of the name, was that fashioned Dy an Austrian prisoner at Vienna. It was deBcribed as consisting of two umbrella-like wings attached to the two ends of a light plan* and worked by a crank. There ia no doubt that it was worked by a "crank" if at all, but there is doubt of "it having risen to the height claimed,— fifty feet. The jailer, by way of precaution, held to a rope attached to ■ the machine, to prevent his charge decamping. or, more properly, embarking into the "great blue expanse." In 1852 Henri GilTard, a Frenchman, built an airship to be held suspended by balloons and run by steam; it wan found impracticable^ — fire so near gas was dangerous. Jn 187 1 an Albany, N. V.. genius by the name of Hunt tried n similar scheme, but nothing came of it. In 1875 F. P. Schroeder of Baltimore announced that he had almost perfected a mammoth flying machine. He organized a company and sold COO shares at $5 each. The first regular trip of the machine was to be from Baltimore to New York on July 4, 1870. It is unnecessary to announce thas the trip has not yet been made. In 1883 he was still working on his "ship" and experimenting with an electric engine. Micajah Dyer of Union county, Ga., obtained a patent on an air-shin in IS <5, but it, too, failed to pail. In 1870 Mr. Simmona of England spent thousands ot' dollars experimenting with a flying machine constructed to rise by means of air alone, without the aid of gas. The Simmens machine has also been relegated to the rear. The French Academy of Sciences tried electricity as a means of propulsion for an air-ship with which they were conducting experiments in 1884. While they have not wholly abandoned the project it is nevertheless an acknowledged failure. About tbe same time a Russian editor claimed to have solved the problem of flight. His present silence ia ominous. In 2SS6 one William Patterson, perhaps the same •'Billy" who was "struck," gave the world to understand that he had completed an air-sh id capable of carrying GOOO pounds to New Yor* from San Francisco in forty-eight hours. If any months have elapsed, still tho Patterson air-ship is moored in the city at tbe Golden Gate. Carl Wolfaans: Peterson of Brooklyn, N. V., was another air-ship claimant in midsummer, 1887. Tie history of the Campbell air ship, which made its trial trip recently, its size and dimensions, are known to the word. Time alone will tell if 3lr. Campbell's efforts shall be eiowned witb success or failure. Tbe persistent »nd ingenious inventor who shall at last cotquer the air will hay« the praises of tho world for his pains.

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