Letter: Little Aeroplane Progress

Monday, June 8, 1908
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The New York Times June 8, 1908 LITTLE AEROPLANE' PROGRESS Bo Bays Nlkols Tesllf-But Hs Is Working on One of Hls. Own. To the Eiluor of' TM New 'York Tina; It was not n little smullng to--read ll short tune ago how the "great.`secret" of the aeroplane was reve»iled.° By sur- rounding that old device Wlth an atmosl phere of mystery one glves llfe and Inter- est to the report;.,b\1t the plsln fsct ls that; all forms of serlal apnaratus are well known to engineers, and can be deslgned for any speolflq duty without previous trials and wlth n. falr degree of scnurscy. The flylng machine has materlnllz0d-not thrdugh leaps, and-'bounds of_ lnverttlon, but by progress slow and lmperceptlble. not lhrbvxh ohglnsl -lnalvlsusl men. but by a clomblnatlon of the same forces which brought forth the automobile and the motorbout. It ls due to the enter- pr1de of thesteel, ell, electrlcelfund other concerns. _who hsve bemlnstrumental ln the Improvement of materials of construc- tlnn and *ln the production of hlgh-power fuels, as well as to the urltlrlng labors of the army of sklllcd but unknown mechnn- lcs ,who have been for yehrs perfectlng' the Internal comhustlon online. There ls no ssllent dlfrerenco between the dlrlglhle balloon' of Renard dt Krebs of lhlrty years ago end that of Santos Dumont wlth whlch the bold Braslllln performed hls fss.ts, The Langley and Maxlm aerodromes, which dld not soar. weso ln my opln_lon better pieces of mech- fanlsm` than thelr' very latest lmltstlons. The _powerful gasoline molor which has since come Into existence ls practically the only radical improvement. Se far, however. only 'the self-propelled machine or nerlal sutomoblle ls ln sight. Wlillt\ the _dlrlglble balloon ls Tlpldly ncsr-< lng the commsrclu stngel nothlng proc~ tléul hds as yet been sabloved wlth the herlvleréthsn-alr machlno, Wltllout ex- ceptlon the apparatus ls flimsy and unre- llnble. The motor, too light for Its pow'- er, glves out' after a _few mlnutes' run. the propeller blades fly oft the rudder ls bndken, and. stter at senes of such fs- mllinr mlshsps. there comes the lnevltu- ble snd general smash-up. in strong con- trast wltn these unnecessarily hessrdous trlils sro tho serious and dlgnlfled efforts of`-Count Zeppelin, who ll bulldlng' s real flylng msohlne, shfn and nsilnble, lb car n dozen men end hrovlslons' over dlstnhea nf thousands of tnllex. nnd wl!h'l speed ter* ln. excess of those obtained with aero planes. 'Hhs llmlts of lmprovement ln the flylng muphlne. propelled' by its own power, whether llkht or heavy, are already clear- ly tleflned. We know very closely what we may expect from the ultlmste perfecq tlcn of the lnternsl combustion englne, the rcdstances which sro to be overcome,-and the llmltatlons of the screw probeller. The mztrgln ls not very Brent. For many resr sons the wireless transrnlsslnn of power lp the only perfect and lasting solution of the problem of aerial navlgntlon. Bult even then lt wlll scarcely be posslble to ranch very hlgh speeds. In this respect many experts are‘mls~ taken. The lwpulnr belle! ls _that be» essse the slr has only one-hundndtn Q the density of water. enormous velocities should be practlcsble. But lt ls not so. n shouts be h0l'UB ln nuns (nat the sir ls one hundred tlnfles more vlscous. than ww- teu.f and because of ttlls alone thu speed of the flylng machine- could not bg muqh ln excess of a properly designed-xqueoun crtft. The meroplsne of the Langley type. such as was used -by Frtrmnm and others with s-ctne'sucr;ess, will hardly ever prove n prectlul aerlnl mschlne. because no pm. vlslon ls made for rnalntalnlng It In the slr ln s lownwsrd current. 'Thls -and the perfect balance _lndepeadcntly of the nnvlgntofs control ls absolutely essentllsl to the success of the heavier-lhan~elr mn- chlne. These two improvements Iam my.. ntl! endwvnrlng to embody ln s. rnnchlns of my own design. NIKOLA TESLA. New York. flune ll, ww