Flying to Europe
“I believe the time is coming in the near future when we will be able to cross direct from New York to London without a stop between sunrise and sunset,” declares the noted expert in describing a remarkable air boat.
There are no insurmountable difficulties to overcome in crossing the Atlantic by aeroplane at the present time. In fact, if the expedition were seriously undertaken by practical, level-headed men there is more than an even chance it would be successful. We have heard a great deal of discussion during the past five years about crossing the ocean, by aeroplane and several of our most prominent flyers have seriously considered the undertaking, but as a matter of fact, it is only within the past year that a type of machine has been evolved that would stand any chance of reaching the other side with out assistance.
I refer to the hydro-aeroplane, or flying boat. It will be as evident to the layman as to the engineer that a cross Atlantic flying machine must be able to alight upon and arise from the water easily and safely at all times; it is also evident that the boat or hydroplane must be practically unsinkable and able to ride a heavy sea.
Our pilots must be safeguarded in every way possible so that no unnecessary risks are taken. We must not only construct a machine that will fly safely with her two pilots and sufficient fuel and supplies for the entire trip, but in case of damage which would disable her as a flying machine and which could not be repaired while, resting on the water, we must be able to cut loose and throw overboard all useless material, such as wings, aero motor, propeller, etc., converting the machine into a motor driven life boat.
We must build a machine with the greatest amount of lifting surface, the least amount of head resistance, and so strongly wired and braced that there will be no chance of anything going wrong while in flight. Then, most important of all, we must provide a motor of ample power to drive the machine at full speed for the entire trip I believe there would be nothing experimental in building such a machine or motor today, and I base my judgment solely upon actual development to date.
Mr Curtiss has agreed to build such a machine under conditions to be named by him, and I have no doubt there are other experienced and responsible aeroplane manufacturers who would undertake such a contract under reasonable conditions.
I would advocate for this purpose the double biplane or following surface type of flying boat as most nearly fulfilling our requirements. In this type of aeroplane we have, if properly designed and built, a highly efficient, rigid and compact machine with a maximum of lifting surface and a minimum of head resistance inherently stable.
There is nothing new or experimental about this type of machine, as it was first proposed by the late Prof Langley long before human flight had become an established fact, and has since been highly endorsed by M Eiffel of Paris, after a series of long and conclusive experiments.
Of equal importance to the flying machine is the pilot or pilots who will guide her. Once we have built a machine that will fly safely across the Atlantic the success or failure of the venture will depend entirely upon the skill, training, ingenuity, endurance, and bulldog stick of our pilots.
We should have two pilots because it would be impossible for one man to stand the continuous nervous and physical strain of such a trip. Both men should be thoroughly trained and experienced navigators and air pilots, able to map and lay out their course as an experienced navigator would lay the course of his vessel. They must have unlimited nerve, tempered by good judgment, and a determination to succeed that would never admit defeat.
The machine should be fitted with dual control, which can be shifted to either pilot instantly, on signal. In case of damage machine can be brought to the water and run as a motor boat or allowed to float while the necessary alterations or repairs are being made.
The Aero Club of America in 1912 adopted a set of rules and regulations to govern a cross-Atlantic flight which stipulates that the pilot or pilots shall not receive outside assistance of any kind. This means that they would not be permitted to take on fuel, oil or provisions. This leaves open to us, if we comply with these rules, two overwater routes. First, from New York direct to Ireland, a distance of approximately 3,000 miles, and second, from St John’s, N F, to Ireland — a distance of about 2,000 miles.
These rules, however, were drawn to cover a $100,000 prize for a cross-Atlantic flight, and would undoubtedly be modified if they were objected to and assurances given that such a flight would actually be undertaken. The fact that the prize was insured by Lloyd’s for $1,000 last year while the premium this year is $2,000 is significant.
Let us consider first a course from New York to Ireland. We must cover approximately 3,000 miles without renewal of fuel or other supplies. Estimating our speed at 100 miles per hour, and figuring on the most economical and efficient motor yet built for this work, we would need to carry about 3,000 pounds of gasoline, two pilots weighing 300 pounds, a 20 horsepower auxiliary motor, water propeller and shaft 100 pounds, provisions 100 pounds, weight of machine completely equipped with a 150 horsepower motor 1,700 pounds, total weight ready to fly 5,200 pounds.
This would require in a machine of the following surface biplane type a total of 1,120 square feet of lifting surface. Figuring a lift of five pounds per square foot, this would enable us to carry a total load of 5,600 pounds, a leeway of 400 pounds. To get this surface, we must have two top planes 43 feet long by 7 feet wide and two bottom planes 35 feet long by 7 feet wide, set at an angle of about six degrees.
Top photo: London, The Embankment (1913). Second photo Eiffel Tower and park, Paris, France (c1909).
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Publication: The San Francisco Call (San Francisco, California)
Publication date: May 18, 1913