Classic History Books

William J. Claxton - The Mastery of the Air

fitted with three or four engines. Experiments have already been made with the dual-engine plant for
aeroplanes, notably by Messrs. Short Brothers, of Rochester, and the tests have given every satisfaction.

There is little doubt that if the large passenger aeroplane is made possible, and if parliamentary powers
have to be obtained for the formation of companies for passenger traffic by aeroplane, it will be made

compulsory to fit machines with two or more engines, driving three or four distinct propellers. One of the

engines would possibly be of inferior power, and used only in cases of emergency.

Still another cause of accident, which in some cases has proved fatal, is the taking of unnecessary risks
when in the air. This has happened more in America and in France than in Great Britain. An airman may

have performed a very difficult and daring feat at some flying exhibition and the papers belauded his

courage. A rival airman, not wishing to be outdone in skill or courage, immediately tries either to repeat

the performance or to perform an even more difficult evolution. The result may very well end in disaster,



is seen on most of the newspaper bills.

The daring of some of our professional airmen is notorious. There is one particular pilot, whose name is
frequently before us, whom I have in mind when writing this chapter. On several occasions I have seen

him flying over densely-packed crowds, at a height of about two hundred feet or so. With out the

slightest warning he would make a very sharp and almost vertical dive. The spectators, thinking that

something very serious had happened, would scatter in all directions, only to see the pilot right his

machine and jokingly wave his hand to them. One trembles to think what would have been the result if

the machine had crashed to earth, as it might very easily have done. It is interesting to relate that the risks

taken by this pilot, both with regard to the spectators and himself, formed the subject of comment, and,

for the future, flying over the spectators' heads has been strictly forbidden.

From 1909 to 1913 about 130 airmen lost their lives in Germany, France, America, and the British Isles,
and of this number the British loss was between thirty and forty. Strange to say, nearly all the German

fatalities have taken place in air-ships, which were for some years considered much safer than the

heavier-than-air machine.


CHAPTER XLVIII. Some Technical Terms used by Aviators

Though this book cannot pretend to go deeply into the technical side of aviation, there are certain terms
and expressions in everyday use by aviators that it is well to know and understand.

First, as to the machines themselves. You are now able to distinguish a monoplane from a biplane, and
you have been told the difference between a TRACTOR biplane and a PROPELLER biplane. In the

former type the screw is in front of the pilot; in the latter it is to the rear of the pilot's seat.

Reference has been previously made to the FUSELAGE, SKIDS, AILERONS, WARPING
CONTROLS, ELEVATING PLANES, and RUDDER of the various forms of air-craft. We have also

spoken of the GLIDING ANGLE of a machine. Frequently a pilot makes his machine dive at a much

steeper gradient than is given by its natural gliding angle. When the fall is about one in six the glide is

known as a VOL PLANE; if the descent is made almost vertically it is called a VOL PIQUE.


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