aeronautics: man's mastery of flight



aeronautics: man's mastery of flight defined in 1939 year

aeronautics: man's mastery of flight - AERONAUTICS: MAN'S MASTERY OF FLIGHT;
aeronautics: man's mastery of flight - C. G. Obey, First Editor of The Aeroplane. In the following contribution the whole progress of aerial navigation from its inception is carefully outlined. The varied branches of the subject are all adequately dealt with under their respective headings and reference should be made therefore to Aeroplane; Air Fighting; Airship: Air Transport; Aviation. Civil Balloon; Flight, and individual aircraft.

The word aeronautics includes, as its etymology implies, everything concerned with the navigation of the air, such as. for example, the study and charting of the atmosphere, the science and practice of navigating aircraft, the construction of lighter-than-air and heavier-than-air craft and all their component parts and accessories. In its more limited sense aeronautics pertains to the practice of aerial navigation; that is to say, travel in the air by all forms of aircraft.

The first vehicles to navigate the air were balloons. Setting aside the suggestion of Leonardo da Vinci that an aerial vehicle could be made by exhausting the air from a metal globe, we find a Montgolflers' first hot-air oaiioon, June 5, 1783. It carried no passenger French missionary writing in 1694 that a balloon was sent up in celebration of the coronation of the emperor Fo-Kien at Peking in 1306. This was mentioned more as an established custom than as a first attempt, and it is possible that the Chinese, with their intimate knowledge of kites and of other scientific instruments concerned with the atmosphere, did actually know how to make a hot-air balloon in those days. In 1766 Cavendish published his estimate of the weight of hydrogen, and immediately afterwards Dr. Black, of Edinburgh, made a skin balloon, which, however, was too heavy to be lifted by the hydrogen which it could hold. Some years later Tiberius Cavallo also found that bladders were too heavy and that paper would not hold hydrogen, but in 1782 he inflated soap bubbles with hydrogen arid discovered that they would float upwards until they burst.

Meantime the brothers Stephen and Joseph Montgolfier had discovered that by inflating a paper bag with hot air it would rise; they argued, therefore, that if a paper bag could be filled with a cloud-like substance, namely smoke, it also would float. On this hypothesis they experimented with paper bags up to 700 cubic feet capacity, under which they lighted fires of chopped straw. Although they obtained immediate successes, it is of interest to note that it was some time before the brothers realized that the real lift was given not by the smoke but by the fact that the hot air inside the bags was lighter than the atmospheric air outside. Encouraged by their success, the Montgolfiers built a spherical paper balloon 30 feet in diameter with a capacity of 1,300 cubic feet, which was sent up June 5, 1783, without a passenger.

Almost coincidently with this, M. de Saint Fond, a naturalist, and M. Charles, a professor of natural philosophy, and two brothers named Robert produced a hydrogen balloon, and this was sent up Aug. 27, 1783, from the Champ de Mars in Paris. This balloon was 13 feet in diameter, weighed under 20 lb., and was made of thin silk coated with rubber. Thus we find the two types of balloons - the hot air and the hydrogen - being developed side by side, just as different types of airships were developed coincidently, and as the different types of aeroplanes developed together.

The distinction of being the first balloonists to take the air belonged to a sheep, a cock, and a duck, which were sent up in a Montgolfier balloon from Versailles Sept. 19, 1783. The balloon descended eight minutes after the start as the air inside it cooled, and the sheep and the duck were found to be uninjured. The cock was found to be very unwell, and its condition was attributed by the learned professors present to the rarefied atmosphere above. Closer investigation, however, indicated that it had been trampled on by the sheep. The first ascent of a man-carrying balloon was made by M. Pilatre de Rozier, who went up in a Montgolfier balloon Oct. 15, 1783. The balloon was attached to a cord so that it could not rise higher than 100 feet, and it was kept at that height for nearly five minutes by the continuous heating of the air inside by means of a fire of chopped straw carried in a brazier under the neck of the balloon. On Nov. 21, 1783, M. de Rozier with the Marquis d'Arlandes made the first free balloon ascent. They started from Paris and descended safely in a field five miles away after drifting for 20 minutes at not more than 500 feet.

From this date the actual beginning of aeronautics in the strict sense of aerial navigation may be reckoned. Only seven days later, Nov. 28, a carpenter named. James Wilcox ascended at Philadelphia in a car attached to 47 small balloons filled with hydrogen, and made by two Philadelphian scientists, Hopkins and Rittenhouse, so that to him belongs the honour of being the first to ascend by means of hydrogen. The first European ascent in a hydrogen balloon was made Dec. 1, 1783, by Messrs. Charles and Robert, who made a trip of 27 miles from Paris to Nesle in two hours, reaching a height of 2,000 feet.

The natural sequence from the free balloon was the idea of making a navigable balloon. Various attempts were made to propel ordinary spherical balloons by means of oars worked by hand from the car, and even by large propellers made of fabric stretched 011 frames and turned by a crank from the inside of the car. With these vehicles a certain very limited success was attained; that is to say they could be propelled over the ground if the air were absolutely calm. From these, very naturally, followed the idea of making a cigar-shaped balloon which would move more easily through the air, and in 1870 a French experimenter, M. Dupuy de Lome, made a cigar-shaped balloon 29½ feet in diameter which was driven by a two-bladed propeller 11 feet in diameter, which was turned by the united efforts of eight passengers. In tins way a speed of a few miles per hour was obtained.

Before this Henri Giffard built in 1852 a spindle-shaped balloon 144 feet long, which was driven by a propeller worked by a 3-h.p. steam engine. This machine made a speed of seven miles an hour. There was a big gap from this until 1882, when the brothers Tissandier built a spindle-shaped balloon driven by an electric motor worked by a bichromate-of-potash battery. This was actually an approach in its general ideas to the modern airship. The next step was taken by Captain Charles Renard, who, in 1884, built another electrically driven airship. The envelope was of a true "streamline" form, being of circular section with tapering ends, its greatest diameter being about one-third of the length from the front. The envelope had a capacity of 66,000 cubic feet.

Meantime the Germans had been investigating on their own account, and in 1879 Herren Baum-garten and Wolfert built the first airship with a petrol motor of Daimler's make. This was smashed in the experimental stage and after many experiments Wolfert built another airship in 1897 on somewhat similar lines. This machine left the ground, but the gas caught fire and Wolfert and his assistant were killed.

The next steps in the development of airships were made by Santos-Dumont, who constructed numerous small airships between 1898 and 1906, and from his early experiments developed the various non-rigid airships of today The first rigid airship from which the Zeppelin and the big British types have developed was built in 1897 by an Austrian engineer named Schwartz. This was made of sheet aluminium over a metal framework. It is believed to have left the ground, but it was not a success. Nevertheless, it was the direct ancestor of the Zeppelin.

It must be understood that balloons and airships operate on the principle that their envelopes are filled with gas which is lighter than the surrounding air, and they therefore float in practically the same way that a boat docs in the water, or perhaps one should rather say as a submarine floats, in that they are entirely surrounded by the air and do not float on the surface. Apart from the Montgolfier-type balloons, which operate on the principle that hot air is lighter than cold air, all balloons are filled either with hydrogen or with coal gas. Coal gas being heavier than hydrogen, airships invariably used hydrogen until the year 1919, and therefore all airships and balloons have been peculiarly liable to destruction by fire because both hydrogen and coal gas are highly inflammable.

It had long been known that helium gas, which is a trifle heavier than hydrogen but a great deal lighter than coal gas, is non-inflammable, but until 1918 it was impossible to produce helium in sufficient quantities to use it for the inflation of airships. In that year it was discovered that certain of the natural gas springs in America contained helium in large quantities, and forthwith preparations were made to secure this helium on a commercial basis for use in airships. On the successes of these efforts, the success of the airship as a passenger vehicle very largely depends.

We may turn now to the question of heavier-than-air craft. As everybody knows, it has been the ambition of man from the earliest legendary periods to fly as a bird flies, and the heavier-than-air flying machine is the direct outcome of that desire. Strictly speaking, the heavier-than-air craft is the only true flying machine, as the lighter-than-air craft floats and does not fly. In all ages attempts have been made to fly with wings, but without real success until the 19th century.

Very many models were made to fly by means of small steam engines, small petrol engines, and twisted elastic, long before a man-carrying flier was produced. The first steps towards the production of the flying machine were a variety of types of machine with flapping wings intended to be operated by the physical strength of the pilot. None of these achieved any success whatever. The first successful efforts took the form of gliders, which may be best described as aeroplanes more or less on modern lines but without engines. These gliders were launched as a rule from the top of a hill in the face of a wind, and might be described at free kites. Probably the first successes in this direction were achieved by Sir George Cayley, an English squire, somewhere about the year 1809. The next successful experiments were made by Prof. Otto Lilienthai, who began experimenting in 1871 and achieved a number of glides of considerable length between 1891 and his death - owing to the collapse of one of his gliders at a height of 50 feet - on Aug. 10, 1896. Among others who made successful gliding experiments were Prof. Chanute, Prof. Langley, Dr. Montgomery, and the brothers Wright in America; Messrs. Pilcher, Wenham, Dunne, and Weiss in England; and Messrs. Ader, Bleriot, Penaud, Santos - Dumont, the Voisin brothers, and the Farman brothers in France.

It is claimed that the first power- driven aeroplane to leave the ground was one built by Clement Ader, which was said to have left the ground on Got. 9,1890, but close investigation tends to show that only one wheel of the machine left the ground that the other was still touching On the other hand, there is no doubt whatever that an actual controlled flight by a man-carrying power-driven aeroplane was made by Or villa Wrisht at Dayton, Ohio, U.S.A., on Dec. 17. 1903. This stands at the first authentic flight in history. That flight was a straight trip of 852 feet, which was a good deal shorter than some of the glides which had been made previously. Progress was slow from that date until 1908, when a number of experimenters produced flying machines which really flew, and brought into being the aeroplane as we know it today. The first hops from the ground with a power-driven machine in Europe were made by Santos- Dumont - already well known as an airship experimenter - on Aug. 22, 1906, and on Sept 12. 1906, a machine built by a Dane named Ellehainmer also left the ground under its own power, but on Oct. 23 Santos-Dumont achieved a flight of 200 feet which was clearly not a hop, and so achieved the distinction of being the first person to fly in Europe.

The year in which flying actually began to develop was 1908, for in that year the Bleriot monoplanes and the Antoinette monoplanes and the Voisin biplanes flew regularly in France. A. V. Roe and the late S. F Cody made their first short flights in England. Glenn Curtiss and J A. D. McCurdy flew the Curtiss machines in America, and the late Wilbur Wright brought an improved Wright biplane to Europe and demonstrated in France the real possibilities of aeroplanes. Prior to the arrival of Wright, the longest flight in Europe had been one of 12 miles made in 1908 by Henry Farman on a Voisin biplane, but on Sept. 21 Wilbur Wright flew his machine for 60 miles and remained in the air for an hour and a half.

The real starting-point of aerial navigation was 1909, for in that year exhibition meetings took place all over Europe and America and many cross-country flights were made. On July 13 Bleriot made the first place-to-place flight from Etampes to Toury and Chevilly - a distance of 33 miles - and on July 25 he flew the English Channel from Calais to Dover. On Aug. 27 of that year, at the famous Reims meeting, Henry Farman, on a biplane of his own construction, fitted with the now famous Gnome engine, covered a distance of 118 miles in 3 hours and 5 minutes without alighting, this being the first occasion on which a hundred miles had been covered in the air and on which an aeroplane had remained in the air for three hours. At that period the maximum speed of aeroplanes was under 50 m.p.h., the greatest height known to have been reached by an aeroplane was 500 ft., and not more than two persons had been lifted at once in one aeroplane.

progress of aeronautics

Few products of mechanical science and ingenuity have made so much progress as the aeroplane in the 21 years between the armistice in Nov., 1918, and the outbreak of war in Sept., 1939. In 1918 the fastest aeroplanes had a speed of 160 m.p.h. In 1939 the fastest military aircraft could reach about 370 m.p.h. By 1945 that had gone up to 500 m.p.h.

In 1918 a flight of 500 miles non-stop was quite an achievement, but in 1919 John Alcock and Arthur Whitten Brown flew across the Atlantic, some 2,000 miles non-stop from Newfoundland to Ireland. By the end of 1944 more than 20,000 aeroplanes had flown the Atlantic - most of them from west to east, as weapons of war. About a dozen scheduled passenger services were also flying daily to and fro over the Atlantic ferry. Passages were reserved for very important persons (known as V.I.Ps. on the air lines).

At the end of the First Great War most aircraft were biplanes, built as a girder structure of struts and stays, mostly of wood covered with fabric and braced with wire. Prof. Junkers designed and built in 1917 a cantilever monoplane (one in which the wings were designed to carry their loads without external bracing) all in aluminium, except the engine and certain key points in the structure. The aluminium sheets covering the wings were corrugated from leading edge to trailing edge to resist wing torsion. But for years afterwards most of the world's air liners were still strut-and-wire biplanes. There were, however, notable exceptions in the Junkers, Cornier, and Fokker designs. Although all manufacturing nations prided themselves on having developed highly the science of aerodynamics, their aircraft, up to about the year 1930, showed little knowledge of such a simple thing as "streamlining," a word which means something to everybody today.

After 1930 any aircraft with pretensions to high speed retracted its wheels (or undercarriage) into its body, its wings or engine housings after it left the ground. Most had auxiliary flaps on the wings which were pulled down by hydraulic mechanism (as were the undercarriages) when landing to steepen the gliding angle but also to slow the speed, and to give added lift when taking off.

The performances of modern aircraft are due to increased engine-power. The utmost engine-power of 1918 was 450 h.p. By 1945 1,000 h.p. had become a fair average, and 2,000 h.p. was a high power, but there were engines of 3,000 h.p. flying in 1945. The standard of reliability was very high, with few engine failures on long non-stop journeys across the Atlantic and Indian Oceans, and the deserts of Africa and Asia. (See Aero-Engines.)

The chief effort of the designers of aircraft and engines was devoted to improving weapons of destruction during the years after 1930. Little attention was given to designing troop-transports and munition transports; consequently the Second Great War left the world still short of the best possible passenger transports.

The planners of future air mail lines were, in 1945, promising a 60-hours service by 1945-46. It was to be done with a civil version of the Avro Lancaster bomber. Similar transport uses were promised for modified Handley Page Halifax bombers. (See Aviation. Civil.)

Good progress was also made in big seagoing aircraft. The old wooden biplane twin-engined flying-boats of 1918, F.3 and F.5, had been far surpassed by the big handsome all-metal monoplane Empire flying-boats, which were built for Imperial Airways, Ltd., by Short Brothers of Rochester, the pioneers of seaplanes. They had four engines of about 900 h.p. each, a maximum speed of 200 m.p.h., and a cruising speed of about 160 m.p.h. Their regular voyage from England to Sydney (Australia) was for years the longest scheduled air-route in the world.

In Dec., 1944, a Short Sunderland flying-boat flew from England to India in 33 hours, flying day and night, with only three stops to re-fuel. In 1945 a number of wind-assisted flights in service machines across the Atlantic registered new records, (See Air Records.)

the science of aeronautics

An enormous field is covered by this subject which has grown naturally out of many older sciences, by applying them to the air and adding to them knowledge gained from the action or reaction of the air. The Royal Aeronautical Society, founded in 1866, is the oldest organization in the world which is, and has been, concerned with the science of the air. The branch of general science which is the basis of all aeronautical science is dynamics. Hence the science of aerodynamics (q.v.) deals with the action of the air on all forms of aircraft, from children's kites to the fastest aeroplanes or the biggest airships.

Between the First and Second Great Wars eminent aerodynamic scientists discussed the highest speed which an aeroplane could reach, according to calculations and experiments based on existing knowledge at that time. But after war began the highest calculated performances were surpassed in more or less regular steps. Likewise calculations for range without alighting, for load carried with wings of a certain size and with engines of a certain" power, and for height reached with given power and load, were constantly being passed. Another important branch of aeronautical science is the calculation of the stresses and strains put upon the parts of aircraft - wings, tails, fins, rudders, ailerons, and even such things as windows or panels in the body, or the mechanisms which work the controls. If aerodynamics can provide the knowledge of the pressure of the air, then the calculations of the sizes of the mechanisms and the materials which the designer may safely use is a branch of mechanical or structural engineering, like building a bridge or a house.

Air navigation, which is what the word "aeronautics" means, is a branch, or rather a growth, out of sea navigation, complicated by the very high speeds of aircraft compared with seagoing ships, and simplified by new scientific instruments, which have been developed for aircraft but could be (and in some instances are) used by seacraft. Meteorology has been so highly developed since 1914 that it might fairlj7 be claimed as a department of aeronautical science. Jet propulsion and rocket propulsion are, for practical purposes of either destruction or transportation, the products of aerodynamics, as well as of ballistics, and chemical science and metallurgy.

Already there are chairs of aeronautics at universities, where aeronautical degrees are conferred upon graduates. In Great Britain a government committee recommended in Oct., 1944, the establishment of a College of Aeronautics on a permanent basis. In April, 1945, the Aeronautical Research Council was set up, with Sir Melvill Jones as chairman.

Bibliography, Jane's All the World's Aircraft, pub. annually since 1909; Glossary of Flying: A Dictionary of Aeronautical Terms (Temple Press), 1943; Elements of Aeronautics, F. Pope and A. Otis, 1942; Mechanics of Flight, A. C. Kerrnode; Handbook of Aeronautics, J. L. Pritchard and C. N. H. Lock, 1938; Elements of Aeronautics, K. Schutt, 1941; "Flight" Handbook, A Guide to Aeronautics (Flight Publishing Co., Ltd.), 1945.

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