Manual The Tesla Connection (Cavalier Family Adventures)

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The speed was between twenty and twenty-five miles an hour and the distance flown about 3, feet.

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Professor Langley's first aerodrome, as he called it the word is now used to mean aviation field , was made in the form of a tandem monoplane about sixteen feet long from end to end and with wings measuring about thirteen feet from tip to tip. The steam engine and propellers were placed between the forward and aft planes.

The whole machine weighed about thirty pounds and of course was too small to carry a pilot. Langley next made a model which took the form of a tandem biplane, and which had some success in flights.

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He used his tandem biplane and a motor 40 that developed two and a half to three horsepower. The whole machine weighed fifty-eight pounds, and the planes, which were set at a dihedral angle, had sixty-six square feet of surface. A successful test without a pilot was made on the Potomac River below Washington on August 8, , and while the spectators and reporters were lauding him the inventor merely remarked: "This is the first time in history, so far as I know, that a successful flight of a mechanically sustained flying machine has been seen in public.

The man-carrying machine was ready for its tests a few months later. Ever since having been financed by the Government, Langley had been at work, and the result was a tandem monoplane much like his early models.

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It was driven by a gasoline motor placed amidships which acted on twin screw propellers, which also were between the tandem planes. The whole machine with the pilot weighed pounds, and had 1, square feet of wing surface. It was fifty-two feet long from front to rear and the wings measured forty-eight feet from tip to tip. The wings were arched, like those of modern aeroplanes, and the double rudder at the rear had both horizontal and vertical surfaces to steer the machine up or down, or from right to left.

The aerodrome did not have any device for keeping it on an even keel, such as the ailerons we know to-day, or the wing-warping system of the Wright machine. This was a serious drawback, according to the present-day 41 scientists, but Professor Langley had set his wings in a dihedral angle—that is, like a broad V, to give what is called automatic stability. This dihedral angle, it will be remembered, is one of the principles discarded by the Wright brothers early in their experiments as one that tended to keep the machine oscillating from side to side.

Professor Langley realized this, it is said, and to offset it had already advanced several ideas along the line of wing warping, for keeping his machine on an even keel when buffeted by the wind. The aerodrome also lacked the wheels now used on aeroplanes for starting and alighting, and even the skids that were used on the first Wright machines.

His motor was remarkably well adapted to the work. It developed 50 horsepower with a minimum of vibration, and with its radiator, water, pump, tanks, carbureter, batteries, and coil weighed twenty pounds, or about five pounds per horsepower. The arrangement of the five cylinders around the shaft like the points of a star was one that has become very popular in modern aviation motors. The first trial took place at Widewater, Va.

The machine was placed on a barge on the Potomac River; the pilot, Charles M. Manley, Professor Langley's able young assistant, took his seat in the little boat amidships, and a catapult arrangement, like the early Wright starting device, sent it into the air. To the bitter disappointment 42 of Langley and his friends the machine dived into the water.

It came up immediately, the daring Manley undaunted and uninjured. Investigation showed that in launching it the post that held the guys which steadied the front wings had been so bent that the forward planes were useless.

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At the next trial, December 8, the rear guy post was injured in a similar accident and the machine fell over backward. This ended the experiments, as the Government appropriation had been spent, and the machine was repaired and stored in the Smithsonian Institution, where it is yet. Professor Langley died a few years after this, feeling that his great work had never been appreciated or understood by the world.

Many have declared that he died of a broken heart as a result of the frequent ridicule of the public and press. Although he never saw the triumph of aerial navigation, he died firm in the belief that it was only a matter of time and the working out of theories then laid down until man could fly. His last hours were cheered by the receipt of a copy of resolutions of appreciation passed by the Aero Club of America. In the meantime, the Frenchman Ader had actually flown in a power-driven machine of his own construction, at private tests, while Captain Le Bris and L.

Mouillard, Frenchmen, and Otto Lilienthal, a German, had been carrying on important glider flights. Also Sir Hiram Maxim, the American-born 43 inventor who was knighted in England, made a great aeroplane that was tested with some success. The machine was built in and was mounted on a track.

It was called a multiplane—that is, it had several planes, one above the other, and was driven by a powerful steam engine.

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The whole machine weighed three and a half tons and had a total surface of 5, square feet. During its tests on the track it lifted a few inches off the ground. Thus Maxim claimed that his was the first machine that had ever lifted a man off the ground by its own power. It was Otto Lilienthal, however, the "flying man," who established a systematic study of one phase of aviation which became general enough to be called the Lilienthal School.

This was the system of practising on gliders before attempting to go into the air with power-driven machines. As will be remembered, this was exactly the system the Wright brothers followed out. Lilienthal's first experiments were made in with a pair of semicircular wings steadied by a horizontal rudder at the rear. The whole apparatus weighed forty pounds and had a total plane surface of square feet. He would run along the ground and jump from the top of a hill.

He made many good flights, and in with a new glider averaged to yards and steered up or down or to either side at will.

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Lilienthal found that the air flowing along the earth's surface had a slightly 44 upward current, as science tells us it does, and that it would carry him upward if the wind was blowing strong enough. Hence he could go forward either up or down in about the same way that a yacht tacks against the wind. But Lilienthal had the same trouble in balancing that the Wright brothers had at first, so he kept an even keel as best he could by swinging his legs and body from side to side as he hung underneath the glider.


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The "flying man" made about 2, flights and then constructed a still more successful biplane glider for which he built an engine. He was killed while making a glide on August 9, , however, and the motor was never used. Several authorities who were in touch with Lilienthal declared that the machine had become wobbly and unreliable. This, they said, was the cause of its collapsing in midair under the heavy strain. Lilienthal's death, though mourned by scientists all over the world, did not interfere with the great work he had started, for his system had many disciples both in Europe and America.

Herring, and Percy S. Pilcher of the University of Glasgow. Pilcher was killed three years after Lilienthal, September 30, , while trying to make a glide in stormy weather. This was the first successful aeroplane to be flown in Europe, and was quickly followed by others. The Voisin brothers perfected the first permanent aeroplane used in Europe.

Henri Farman made his first wonderful flights in a Voisin. Great credit must be given to Chanute because it was in great part through his advice that the Wright 45 brothers achieved final success, and all biplanes to-day are known to the technical side of the aviation world as Chanute type machines.

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Chanute and Herring started experiments with gliders among the sand dunes on the southern shore of Lake Michigan, and, after some indifferent success with the Lilienthal monoplane type of glider, made a flier of five surfaces one above the other. The rudder was in the rear and the pilot hung below the machine.


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One by one experiments pared down the number of planes to three and then to two. The planes were arched, as they are in modern aeroplanes. The rudder extended behind the contrivance and had both horizontal and vertical blades. The whole machine weighed 23 pounds and had square feet of plane surface.