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Title: My Airships - The Story of My Life
Author: Santos-Dumont, Alberto
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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MY AIRSHIPS

[Illustration: ALBERTO SANTOS-DUMONT]



    MY AIRSHIPS

    The Story of My Life


    BY

    ALBERTO SANTOS-DUMONT


    ILLUSTRATED


    LONDON
    GRANT RICHARDS
    1904


    THE RIVERSIDE PRESS LIMITED, EDINBURGH



CONTENTS


                                                                 PAGE

           INTRODUCTORY FABLE                                       1

    CHAPTER

        I. THE COFFEE PLANTATION                                   10

       II. PARIS--PROFESSIONAL BALLOONISTS--AUTOMOBILES            24

      III. MY FIRST BALLOON ASCENT                                 33

       IV. MY "BRAZIL"--SMALLEST OF SPHERICAL BALLOONS             42

        V. THE REAL AND THE IMAGINARY DANGERS OF BALLOONING        51

       VI. I YIELD TO THE STEERABLE BALLOON IDEA                   63

      VII. MY FIRST AIR-SHIP CRUISES (1898)                        74

     VIII. HOW IT FEELS TO NAVIGATE THE AIR                        82

       IX. EXPLOSIVE ENGINES AND INFLAMMABLE GASES                100

        X. I GO IN FOR AIR-SHIP BUILDING                          114

       XI. THE EXPOSITION SUMMER                                  133

      XII. THE DEUTSCH PRIZE AND ITS PROBLEMS                     153

     XIII. A FALL BEFORE A RISE                                   164

      XIV. THE BUILDING OF MY "NO. 6"                             180

       XV. WINNING THE DEUTSCH PRIZE                              190

      XVI. A GLANCE BACKWARD AND FORWARD                          205

     XVII. MONACO AND THE MARITIME GUIDE ROPE                     217

    XVIII. FLIGHTS IN MEDITERRANEAN WINDS                         232

      XIX. SPEED                                                  243

       XX. AN ACCIDENT AND ITS LESSONS                            256

      XXI. THE FIRST OF THE WORLD'S AIR-SHIP STATIONS             264

     XXII. MY "NO. 9," THE LITTLE RUNABOUT                        282

    XXIII. THE AIR-SHIP IN WAR                                    303

     XXIV. PARIS AS A CENTRE OF AIR-SHIP EXPERIMENTS              318

           CONCLUDING FABLE                                       327



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS


                                                                 PAGE

    Alberto Santos-Dumont                              _Frontispiece_

    Santos-Dumont Coffee Plantation--Railway                       11

    Santos-Dumont Coffee Plantation--The Works                     15

    Henriques Santos-Dumont                                        25

    The "Brazil"--Smallest of Spherical Balloons                   43

    Motor of "No. 1"                                               62

    The "Santos-Dumont No. 1"--First Start                         75

    "No. 4"--Free Diagonal Movement up                             83

    "No. 6"--Free Diagonal Movement down                           86

    "The Housetops look so Dangerous"                              94

    Over the Bois de Boulogne. "An Ocean of Greenery soft
        and safe"                                                  97

    The Question of Physical Danger                               101

    "No. 9" catches Fire over the Ile de Puteaux                  111

    Accident to "No. 2," May 11, 1899 (First Phase)               115

    Accident to "No. 2," May 11, 1899 (Second Phase)              119

    Accident to "No. 2," May 11, 1899 (Third Phase)               123

    Accident to "No. 2," May 11, 1899 (Finale)                    127

    Start of "No. 3," November 13, 1899                           131

    "No. 4"                                                       135

    Motor of "No. 4"                                              139

    Visit of Professor Langley                                    143

    "No. 4"--Flight before Professor Langley                      147

    "Santos-Dumont No. 5"                                         152

    "No. 5" leaving Aëro Club Grounds, July 12, 1901              158

    "No. 5" returning from the Eiffel Tower                       161

    "No. 5"--Accident in the Park of M. Edmond de Rothschild      165

    An Accident                                                   170

    Phase of an Accident                                          175

    "No. 6"--First Trip                                           181

    An Accident to "No. 6"                                        187

    Scientific Commission of Aëro Club at the Winning of the
        Deutsch Prize                                             191

    "No. 6" making for Eiffel Tower--Altitude 1000 feet           195

    Round Eiffel Tower                                            199

    Rounding Eiffel Tower                                         203

    Returning to Aëro Club Grounds above Aqueduct                 207

    Medal awarded by the Brazilian Government                     211

    "No. 9"--Showing Captain leaving Basket for Motor             215

    In the Bay of Monaco                                          219

    From the Balloon House of La Condamine at Monaco,
        February 12, 1902                                         227

    Wind A. Wind B                                                237

    "Santos-Dumont No. 7"                                         249

    "My present Aids understand my present Airships"--Motor
        of "No. 6"                                                261

    "Santos-Dumont No. 5"--Showing how Aëro Club Grounds
        were cut up                                               267

    First of the World's Airship Stations (Neuilly St James)      271

    "No. 7"                                                       275

    "No. 10"--without Passenger Keel                              279

    "Santos-Dumont No. 9"                                         283

    "No. 9"--Showing relative Size                                287

    "No. 9"--Jumping my Wall                                      291

    "No. 9"--Guide-roping on a Level with the Housetops           295

    "No. 9"--M. Santos-Dumont lands at his own Door               299

    "No. 9" over Bois de Boulogne                                 305

    "No. 9" at Military Review, July 14, 1903                     309

    "No. 9" seen from Captive Balloon, June 11, 1903              325



MY AIRSHIPS



INTRODUCTORY FABLE

THE REASONING OF CHILDREN


Two young Brazilian boys strolled in the shade, conversing. They were
simple youths of the interior, knowing only the plenty of the primitive
plantation where, undisturbed by labour-saving devices, Nature yielded
man her fruits at the price of the sweat of his brow.

They were ignorant of machines to the extent that they had never seen a
waggon or a wheelbarrow. Horses and oxen bore the burdens of plantation
life on their backs, and placid Indian labourers wielded the spade and
the hoe.

Yet they were thoughtful boys. At this moment they discussed things
beyond all that they had seen or heard.

"Why not devise a better means of transport than the backs of horses and
of oxen?" Luis argued. "Last summer I hitched horses to a barn door,
loaded it with sacks of maize, and hauled in one load what ten horses
could not have brought on their backs. True, it required seven horses to
drag it, while five men had to sit around its edges and hold the load
from falling off."

"What would you have?" answered Pedro. "Nature demands compensations.
You cannot get something from nothing or more from less!"

"If we could put rollers under the drag, less pulling power would be
needed."

"Bah! the force saved would be used up in the labour of shifting the
rollers."

"The rollers might be attached to the drag at fixed points by means of
holes running through their centres," mused Luis. "Or why should not
circular blocks of wood be fixed at the four corners of the drag?...
Look, Pedro, yonder along the road. What is coming? The very thing I
imagined, only better! One horse is pulling it at a good trot!"

The first waggon to appear in that region of the interior stopped, and
its driver spoke with the boys.

"These round things?" he answered to their questions; "they are called
wheels."

Pedro accepted his explanation of the principle slowly.

"There must be some hidden defect in the device," he insisted. "Look
around us. Nowhere does Nature employ the device you call the wheel.
Observe the mechanism of the human body; observe the horse's frame;
observe...."

"Observe that horse and man and waggon with its wheels are speeding from
us," replied Luis, laughing. "Cannot you yield to accomplished facts?
You tire me with your appeals to Nature. Has man ever accomplished
anything worth having except by combating Nature? We do violence to her
when we chop down a tree! I would go further than this invention of the
waggon. Conceive a more powerful motive force than that horse...."

"Attach two horses to the waggon."

"I mean a machine," said Luis.

"A mechanical horse with powerful iron legs!" suggested Pedro.

"No; I would have a motor waggon. If I could find an artificial force
I would cause it to act on a point in the circumference of each wheel.
Then the waggon could carry its own puller!"

"You might as well attempt to lift yourself from the ground by pulling
at your boot straps!" laughed Pedro. "Listen, Luis. Man is subject to
certain natural laws. The horse, it is true, carries more than his own
weight, but by a device of Natures own--his legs. Had you the artificial
force you dream of you would have to apply it naturally. I have it! It
would have to be applied to poles to push your waggon from behind!"

"I hold to applying the force to the wheels," insisted Luis.

"By the nature of things you would lose power," said Pedro. "A wheel is
harder to force on from a point inside its circumference than when the
motive power is applied to that circumference directly, as by pushing or
pulling the waggon."

"To relieve friction I would run my power waggon on smooth iron rails,
then the loss in power would be gained in speed."

"Smooth iron rails!" laughed Pedro. "Why, the wheels would slip on
them. You would have to put notches all round their circumference and
corresponding notches in the rails. And what would there be to prevent
the power waggon slipping off the rails even then?"

The boys had been walking briskly. Now a shrieking noise startled them.
Before them stretched in long lines a railway in course of construction,
and from among the hills came toward them, at what seemed immense speed,
a construction train.

"It is an avalanche!" cried Pedro.

"It is the very thing that I was dreaming of!" said Luis.

The train stopped. A gang of labourers emerged from it and began working
on the road-bed, while the locomotive engineer answered the boys'
questions and explained the mechanism of his engine. The boys discussed
this later wonder as they wended their way homeward.

"Could it be adapted to the river men might become lords of the water as
of the land," said Luis. "It would be only necessary to devise wheels
capable of taking hold of the water. Fix them to a great frame like that
waggon body and the steam-engine could propel it along the surface of
the river!"

"Now you talk folly," exclaimed Pedro. "Does a fish float on the
surface? In the water we must travel as the fish does--in it, not over
it! Your waggon body, being filled with light air, would upset at your
first movement. And your wheels--do you imagine they would take hold of
so liquid a thing as water?"

"What would you suggest?"

"I would suggest that your water waggon be jointed in half-a-dozen
places, so that it could be made to squirm through the water like a
fish. Listen! A fish navigates the water. You desire to navigate the
water. Then study the fish! There are fish that use propeller fins and
flippers too. So you might devise broad boards to strike the water, as
our hands and feet strike it in swimming. But do not talk about waggon
wheels in the water!"

They were now beside the broad river. The first steamer to navigate it
was seen approaching from the distance. The boys could not yet well
distinguish it.

"It is evidently a whale," said Pedro. "What navigates the water? Fish.
What is the fish that sometimes is seen swimming with its body half way
above the surface? The whale. See, it is spouting water!"

"That is not water, but steam or smoke," said Luis.

"Then it is a dead whale, and the steam is the vapour of putrefaction.
That is why it stays so high in the water--a dead whale rises high on
its back!"

"No," said Luis; "it is really a steam water waggon."

"With smoke coming from fire in it, as from the locomotive?"

"Yes."

"But the fire would burn it up...."

"The body is doubtless iron, like the locomotive."

"Iron would sink. Throw your hatchet in the river and see."

The steam-boat came to shore, close to the boys. Running to it, to
their joy, they perceived on its deck an old friend of their family, a
neighbouring planter.

"Come, boys!" he said, "and I will show you round this steam-boat."

After a long inspection of the machinery the two boys sat with their old
friend on the foredeck in the shade of an awning.

"Pedro," said Luis, "will not men some day invent a ship to sail in the
sky?"

The common-sense old planter glanced with apprehension at the youth's
face, flushed with ardour.

"Have you been much in the sun, Luis?" he asked.

"Oh, he is always talking in that flighty way," Pedro reassured him. "He
takes pleasure in it."

"No, my boy," said the planter; "man will never navigate a ship in the
sky."

"But on St John's Eve, when we all make bonfires, we also send up little
tissue-paper spheres with hot air in them," insisted Luis. "If we could
construct a very great one, big enough to lift a man, a light car, and
a motor, might not the whole system be propelled through the air, as a
steam-boat is propelled through the water?"

"Boys, never talk foolishness!" exclaimed the old friend of the family
hurriedly as the captain of the boat approached. It was too late. The
captain had heard the boy's observation; instead of calling it folly he
excused him.

"The great balloon which you imagine has existed since 1783," he said;
"but, though capable of carrying a man or several men, it cannot be
controlled--it is at the mercy of the slightest breeze. As long ago as
1852 a French engineer named Giffard made a brilliant failure with what
he called a 'dirigible balloon,' furnished with the motor and propeller
Luis has dreamed of. All he did was to demonstrate the impossibility of
directing a balloon through the air."

"The only way would be to build a flying machine on the model of the
bird," spoke up Pedro with authority.

"Pedro is a very sensible boy," observed the old planter. "It is a pity
Luis is not more like him and less visionary. Tell me, Pedro, how did
you come to decide in favour of the bird as against the balloon?"

"Easily," replied Pedro glibly. "It is the most ordinary-common sense.
Does man fly? No. Does the bird fly? Yes. Then if man would fly let him
imitate the bird. Nature has made the bird, and Nature never goes wrong.
Had the bird been furnished with a great air bag I might have suggested
a balloon."

"Exactly!" exclaimed both captain and planter.

But Luis, sitting in his corner, muttered, unconvinced as Galileo: "It
will move!"



CHAPTER I

THE COFFEE PLANTATION


From the way in which the partisans of Nature have fallen on me I might
well be the uninformed and visionary Luis of the fable, for has it not
been taken for granted that I began my experiments ignorant alike of
mechanics and ballooning? And before my experiments succeeded, were they
not all called impossible?

Does not the final condemnation of the common-sense Pedro continue to
weigh on me?

After steering my ship through the sky at will I am still told that
flying creatures are heavier than the air. A little more and I should
be made responsible for the tragic accidents of others who had not my
experience of mechanics and aeronautics.

On the whole, therefore, I think it is best to begin at the coffee
plantation where I was born in the year 1873.

[Illustration: PLANTATION RAILWAY

SANTOS-DUMONT COFFEE PLANTATION IN BRAZIL]

Inhabitants of Europe comically figure those Brazilian plantations to
themselves as primitive stations of the boundless pampas, as innocent of
the cart and the wheelbarrow as of the electric light and the telephone.
There are such stations far in the interior. I have been through them on
hunting trips, but they are not the coffee plantations of Sao-Paulo.

I can hardly imagine a more stimulating environment for a boy dreaming
over mechanical inventions. At the age of seven I was permitted to drive
our "locomobiles" of the epoch--steam traction-engines of the fields
with great broad wheels. At the age of twelve I had conquered my place
in the cabs of the Baldwin locomotive engines hauling train-loads of
green coffee over the sixty miles of our plantation railway. When my
father and brothers would take pleasure in making horseback trips far
and near, to see if the trees were clean, if the crops were coming up,
if the rains had done damage, I preferred to slip down to the Works and
play with the coffee-engines.

I think it is not generally understood how scientifically a Brazilian
coffee plantation may be operated. From the moment when a railway train
has brought the green berries to the Works to the moment when the
finished and assorted product is loaded on the transatlantic ships, no
human hand touches the coffee.

You know that the berries of black coffee are red when they are green.
Though it may complicate the statement, they look like cherries. Car
loads of them are unloaded at the central works and thrown into great
tanks, where the water is continually renewed and agitated. Mud that
has clung to the berries from the rains, and little stones which have
got mixed up with them in the loading of the cars, go to the bottom,
while the berries and the little sticks and bits of leaves float on the
surface and are carried from the tank by means of an inclined trough,
whose bottom is pierced with innumerable little holes. Through these
holes falls some of the water with the berries, while the little sticks
and pieces of leaves float on.

[Illustration: THE WORKS]

[Illustration: "LOCOMOBILE"

THE SANTOS-DUMONT COFFEE PLANTATION IN BRAZIL]

The fallen coffee berries are now clean. They are still red, about the
size and look of cherries. The red exterior is a hard pod or _polpa_.
Inside of each pod are two beans, each of which is covered with a skin
of its own. The water which has fallen with the berries carries them on
to the machine called the _despolpador_, which breaks the outside pod
and frees the beans. Long tubes, called "dryers," now receive the beans,
still wet, and with their skins still on them. In these dryers the beans
are continually agitated in hot air.

Coffee is very delicate. It must be handled delicately. Therefore the
dried beans are lifted by the cups of an endless-chain elevator to a
height, whence they slide down an inclined trough to another building
because of the danger of fire. This is the coffee machine house.

The first machine is a ventilator, in which sieves, shaken back and
forth, are so combined that only the coffee beans can pass through them.
No coffee is lost in them and no dirt is kept by them, for one little
stone or stick that may still have been carried with the beans would be
enough to break the next machine.

Another endless-chain elevator carries the beans to a height, whence
they fall through an inclined trough into this _descascador_ or
"skinner." It is a highly delicate machine; if the spaces between are a
trifle too big the coffee passes without being skinned, while if they
are too small they break the beans.

Another elevator carries the skinned beans with their skins to another
ventilator, in which the skins are blown away.

Still another elevator takes the now clean beans up and throws them into
the "separator," a great copper tube two yards in diameter and about
seven yards long, resting at a slight incline. Through the separator
tube the coffee slides. As it is pierced at first with little holes the
smaller beans fall through them. Farther along it is pierced with larger
holes, and through these the medium-sized beans fall, and still farther
along are still larger holes, for the large round beans called "Moka."

The machine is a separator because it separates the beans into their
conventional grades by size. Each grade falls into its hopper, beneath
which are stationed weighing scales and men with coffee sacks. As the
sacks fill up to the required weight they are replaced by empty ones,
and the tied and labelled sacks are shipped to Europe.

As a boy I played with this machinery and the driving engines that
furnished its motive force, and before long familiarity had taught me
how to repair any part of it. As I have said, it is delicate machinery.
In particular, the moving sieves would be continually getting out of
order. While they were not heavy, they moved back and forth horizontally
at great speed and took an enormous amount of motive power. The belts
were always being changed, and I remember the fruitless efforts of all
of us to remedy the mechanical defects of the device.

Now is it not curious that those troublesome shifting sieves were
the only machines at the coffee works that were not rotary? They
were not rotary, and they were bad. I think this put me as a boy
against all _agitating_ devices in mechanics and in favour of the more
easily-handled and more serviceable rotary movement.

It may be that half-a-century from now man will assume mastery of the
air by means of flying machines heavier than the medium in which they
move. I look forward to the time with hope, and at the present moment I
have gone further to meet it than any other, because my own air-ships
(which have been so reproached on this head) are slightly heavier than
the air. But I am prejudiced enough to think that when the time comes
the conquering device will not be flapping wings or any substitute of an
agitating nature.

I cannot say at what age I made my first kites, but I remember how
my comrades used to tease me at our game of "Pigeon flies!" All the
children gather round a table, and the leader calls out: "Pigeon flies!"
"Hen flies!" "Crow flies!" "Bee flies!" and so on, and at each call we
were supposed to raise our fingers. Sometimes, however, he would call
out "Dog flies!" "Fox flies!" or some other like impossibility, to
catch us. If anyone raised a finger he was made to pay a forfeit. Now
my playmates never failed to wink and smile mockingly at me when one of
them called "Man flies!" for at the word I would always lift my finger
very high, as a sign of absolute conviction, and I refused with energy
to pay the forfeit.

Among the thousands of letters which I received after winning the
Deutsch prize there was one that gave me particular pleasure. I quote
from it as a matter of curiosity:

    "... Do you remember the time, my dear Alberto, when we
    played together 'Pigeon flies!'? It came back to me suddenly the
    day when the news of your success reached Rio.

    "'Man flies!' old fellow! You were right to raise your
    finger, and you have just proved it by flying round the Eiffel
    Tower.

    "You were right not to pay the forfeit; it is M. Deutsch who
    has paid it in your stead. Bravo! you well deserve the 100,000
    franc prize.

    "They play the old game now more than ever at home, but the
    name has been changed and the rules modified--since October 19,
    1901. They call it now 'Man flies!' and he who does not raise
    his finger at the word pays his forfeit.--

    Your friend,    PEDRO."

This letter brings back to me the happiest days of my life, when I
exercised myself in making light aeroplanes with bits of straw, moved
by screw propellers driven by springs of twisted rubber, or ephemeral
silk-paper balloons. Each year, on June 24th, over the St John bonfires,
which are customary in Brazil from long tradition, I inflated whole
fleets of these little Montgolfiers, and watched in ecstasy their
ascension to the skies.

In those days, I confess, my favourite author was Jules Verne. The
wholesome imagination of this truly great writer, working magically
with the immutable laws of matter, fascinated me from childhood. In its
daring conceptions I saw, never doubting, the mechanics and the science
of the coming ages, when man should by his unaided genius rise to the
height of a demigod.

With Captain Nemo and his shipwrecked guests I explored the depths of
the sea in that first of all submarines, the _Nautilus_. With Phineas
Fogg I went round the world in eighty days. In "Screw Island" and "The
Steam House" my boyish faith leaped out to welcome the ultimate triumphs
of an automobilism that in those days had not as yet a name. With Hector
Servadoc I navigated the air.

I saw my first balloon in 1888, when I was about fifteen years old.
There was a fair or celebration of some sort at the town of Sao-Paulo,
and a professional made the ascent, letting himself down afterwards in
a parachute. By this time I was perfectly familiar with the history of
Montgolfier and the balloon craze, which, following on his courageous
and brilliant experiments, so significantly marked the last years of
the eighteenth, and the first years of the nineteenth, centuries. In my
heart I had an admiring worship for the four men of genius--Montgolfier,
and the physicist, Charles, and Pilâtre de Rozier, and the engineer,
Henry Giffard--who have attached their names for ever to great steps
forward in aerial navigation.

I, too, desired to go ballooning. In the long, sun-bathed Brazilian
afternoons, when the hum of insects, punctuated by the far-off cry of
some bird, lulled me, I would lie in the shade of the verandah and gaze
into the fair sky of Brazil, where the birds fly so high and soar with
such ease on their great outstretched wings, where the clouds mount so
gaily in the pure light of day, and you have only to raise your eyes to
fall in love with space and freedom. So, musing on the exploration of
the vast aerial ocean, I, too, devised air-ships and flying machines in
my imagination.

These imaginations I kept to myself. In those days, in Brazil, to talk
of inventing a flying machine or dirigible balloon would have been to
mark oneself off as unbalanced and visionary. Spherical balloonists were
looked on as daring professionals, not differing greatly from acrobats;
and for the son of a planter to dream of emulating them would have been
almost a social sin.



CHAPTER II

PARIS--PROFESSIONAL BALLOONISTS--AUTOMOBILES


In 1891 it was decided that our family should make a trip to Paris, and
I rejoiced doubly at the prospect. All good Americans are said to go to
Paris when they die. But to me, with the bias of my reading, France--the
land of my father's ancestors and of his own education as an engineer
at the École Centrale--represented everything that is powerful and
progressive.

In France the first hydrogen balloon had been let loose and the first
air-ship had been made to navigate the air with its steam-engine, screw
propeller, and rudder. Naturally I figured to myself that the problem
had made marked progress since Henry Giffard in 1852, with a courage
equal to his science, gave his masterly demonstration of the problem of
directing balloons.

I said to myself: "I am going to Paris to see the new things--steerable
balloons and automobiles!"

[Illustration: HENRIQUES SANTOS-DUMONT

FATHER OF A. SANTOS-DUMONT AND
FOUNDER OF THE COFFEE PLANTATIONS IN BRAZIL]

On one of my first free afternoons, therefore, I slipped away from the
family on a tour of exploration. To my immense astonishment I learned
that there were no steerable balloons--that there were only spherical
balloons, like that of Charles in 1783! In fact, no one had continued
the trials of an elongated balloon driven by a thermic motor begun by
Henry Giffard. The trials of such balloons with an electric motor,
undertaken by the Tissandier brothers in 1883, had been repeated by two
constructors in the following year, but had been finally given up in
1885. For years no "cigar-shaped" balloon had been seen in the air.

This threw me back on spherical ballooning. Consulting the Paris city
directory I had noted the address of a professional aeronaut. To him I
explained my desires.

"You want to make an ascent?" he asked gravely. "Hum! hum! Are you sure
you have the courage? A balloon ascent is no small thing, and you seem
too young."

I assured him both of my purpose and my courage. Little by little he
yielded to my arguments. Finally he consented to take me "for a short
ascent." It must be on a calm, sunny afternoon, and not last more than
two hours.

"My honorarium will be 1200 francs," he added, "and you must sign me a
contract to hold yourself responsible for all damages we may do to your
own life and limbs and to mine, to the property of third parties, and
to the balloon and its accessories. Furthermore, you agree to pay out
railway fares and transportation for the balloon and its basket back to
Paris from the point at which we come to the ground."

I asked time for reflection. To a youth eighteen years of age 1200
francs was a large sum. How could I justify the spending of it to my
parents? Then I reflected:

"If I risk 1200 francs for an afternoon's pleasure I shall find it
either good or bad. If it is bad the money will be lost. If it is good I
shall want to repeat it and I shall not have the means."

This decided me. Regretfully I gave up ballooning and took refuge in
automobiling.

Automobiles were still rare in Paris in 1891, and I had to go to the
works at Valentigny to buy my first machine, a Peugeot three-and-a-half
horse-power roadster.

It was a curiosity. In those days there were no automobile licenses,
no "chauffeurs'" examinations. We drove our new inventions through
the streets of the capital at our own risks and perils. Such was
the curiosity they aroused that I was not allowed to stop in public
places like the Place de l'Opéra for fear of attracting multitudes and
obstructing traffic.

Immediately I became an enthusiastic automobilist. I took pleasure in
understanding the parts and their proper interworking; I learned to care
for my machine and to repair it; and when, at the end of some seven
months, our whole family returned to Brazil I took the Peugeot roadster
with me.

Returning to Paris in 1892, with the balloon idea still obsessing me,
I looked up a number of other professional aeronauts. Like the first,
all wanted extravagant sums to take me up with them on the most trivial
kind of ascent. All took the same attitude. They made a danger and a
difficulty of ballooning, enlarging on its risks to life and property.
Even in presence of the great prices they proposed to charge me they did
not encourage me to close with them. Obviously they were determined to
keep ballooning to themselves as a professional mystery. Therefore I
bought a new automobile.

I should add that this condition of things has changed wonderfully since
the foundation of the Paris Aéro Club.

Automobile tricycles were just then coming to the fore. I chose one,
and rejoiced in its freedom from breakdowns. In my new enthusiasm for
the type, I was the first to introduce motor-tricycle races in Paris.
Renting the bicycle track of the Parc des Princes for an afternoon
I organised the race and offered the prizes. "Common-sense" people
declared that the event would end disastrously; they proved to their
own satisfaction that the tricycles, going round the short curves of
a bicycle track, would overturn and wreck themselves. If they did not
do this the inclination would certainly cause the carburator to stop
or not to work so well, and the stoppage of the carburator round the
sharp curve would upset the tricycles. The directors of the Vélodrome,
while accepting my money, refused to let me have the track for a Sunday
afternoon, fearing a fiasco! They were disappointed when the race proved
to be a great success.

Returning again to Brazil I regretted bitterly that I had not
persevered in my attempt to make a balloon ascent. At that distance,
far from ballooning possibilities, even the high prices demanded by the
aeronauts seemed to me of secondary importance. Finally, one day in
1897, in a Rio book-shop, when making my purchases of reading matter for
a new voyage to Paris, I came on a volume of MM. Lachambre and Machuron,
"Andrée--Au Pôle Nord en Ballon."

The reading of this book during the long sea voyage proved a revelation
to me, and I finished by studying it like a text-book. Its description
of materials and prices opened my eyes. At last I saw clearly. Andrée's
immense balloon--a reproduction of whose photograph on the book cover
showed how those who gave it the final varnishing climbed up its sides
and over its summit like a mountain--cost only 40,000 francs to fully
construct and equip!

I determined that on arriving in Paris I would cease consulting
professional aeronauts and would make the acquaintance of constructors.

I was particularly anxious to meet M. Lachambre, the builder of the
Andrée balloon, and M. Machuron, who was his associate and the writer of
the book. In these men I will say frankly that I found all I had hoped
for. When I asked M. Lachambre how much it would cost me to take a short
trip in one of his balloons his reply so astonished me that I asked him
to repeat it.

"For a long trip of three or four hours," he said, "it will cost you 250
francs, all expenses and return of balloon by rail included."

"And the damages?" I asked.

"We shall not do any damage!" he replied, laughing.

I closed with him on the spot, and M. Machuron agreed to take me up the
next day.



CHAPTER III

MY FIRST BALLOON ASCENT


I have kept the clearest remembrance of the delightful sensations I
experienced in this my first trial in the air. I arrived early at
the Parc d'Aerostation of Vaugirard so as to lose nothing of the
preparations.

The balloon, of a capacity of 750 cubic metres, was lying a flat mass on
the grass. At a signal from M. Lachambre the workmen turned on the gas,
and soon the formless thing rounded up into a great sphere and rose into
the air.

At 11 A.M. all was ready. The basket rocked prettily beneath the
balloon, which a mild, fresh breeze was caressing. Impatient to be off,
I stood in my corner of the narrow wicker basket with a bag of ballast
in my hand. In the other corner M. Machuron gave the word: "Let go all!"

Suddenly the wind ceased. The air seemed motionless around us. We were
off, going at the speed of the air current in which we now lived and
moved. Indeed, for us, there was no more wind; and this is the first
great fact of all spherical ballooning. Infinitely gentle is this unfelt
movement forward and upward. The illusion is complete: it seems not to
be the balloon that moves but the earth that sinks down and away.

At the bottom of the abyss, which already opened 1500 yards below us,
the earth, instead of appearing round like a ball, shows concave like a
bowl by a peculiar phenomenon of refraction whose effect is to lift up
constantly to the aeronaut's eyes the circle of the horizon.

Villages and woods, meadows and chateaux, pass across the moving scene,
out of which the whistling of locomotives throws sharp notes. These
faint, piercing sounds, together with the yelping and barking of dogs,
are the only noises that reach one through the depths of the upper air.
The human voice cannot mount up into these boundless solitudes. Human
beings look like ants along the white lines that are highways, and the
rows of houses look like children's playthings.

While my gaze was still held fascinated on the scene a cloud passed
before the sun. Its shadow cooled the gas in the balloon, which wrinkled
and began descending, gently at first, and then with accelerated speed,
against which we strove by throwing out ballast. This is the second
great fact of spherical ballooning--we are masters of our altitude by
the possession of a few pounds of sand!

Regaining our equilibrium above a plateau of clouds at about 3000 yards
we enjoyed a wonderful sight. The sun cast the shadow of the balloon on
this screen of dazzling whiteness, while our own profiles, magnified to
giant size, appeared in the centre of a triple rainbow! As we could no
longer see the earth all sensation of movement ceased. We might be going
at storm speed and not know it. We could not even know the direction we
were taking save by descending below the clouds to regain our bearings.

A joyous peal of bells mounted up to us. It was the noonday Angelus
ringing from some village belfry. I had brought up with us a substantial
lunch of hard-boiled eggs, cold roast beef and chicken, cheese,
ice-cream, fruits and cakes, champagne, coffee, and Chartreuse.
Nothing is more delicious than lunching like this above the clouds
in a spherical balloon. No dining-room can be so marvellous in its
decoration. The sun sets the clouds in ebullition, making them throw up
rainbow jets of frozen vapour like great sheaves of fireworks all around
the table. Lovely white spangles of the most delicate ice formation
scatter here and there by magic; while flakes of snow form, moment by
moment, out of nothingness, beneath our very eyes, and in our very
drinking-glasses.

I was finishing my little glass of liqueur when the curtain suddenly
fell on this wonderful stage setting of sunlight, cloud billows, and
azure. The barometer rose rapidly 5 millimetres, showing a sudden
rupture of equilibrium and a swift descent. Probably the balloon had
become loaded down with several pounds of snow, and it was falling into
a cloud.

We passed into the half darkness of the fog. We could still see our
basket, our instruments, and the parts of the rigging nearest us, but
the netting that held us to the balloon was visible only to a certain
height, and the balloon itself had completely disappeared. So we had for
a moment the strange and delightful sensation of hanging in the void
without support, of having lost our last ounce of weight in a limbo of
nothingness, sombre and portentous.

After a few minutes of fall, slackened by throwing out more ballast, we
found ourselves under the clouds at a distance of about 300 yards from
the ground. A village fled away from us below. We took our bearings with
the compass, and compared our route map with the immense natural map
that unfolded below. Soon we could identify roads, railways, villages,
and forests, all hastening toward us from the horizon with the swiftness
of the wind itself.

The storm which had sent us downward marked a change of weather. Now
little gusts began to push the balloon from right to left, up and down.
From time to time the guide rope--a great rope dangling 100 yards below
our basket--would touch earth, and soon the basket, too, began to graze
the tops of trees.

What is called "guide-roping" thus began for me under conditions
peculiarly instructive. We had a sack of ballast at hand, and when some
special obstacle rose in our path, like a tree or a house, we threw out
a few handfuls of sand to leap up and pass over it. More than 50 yards
of the guide rope dragged behind us on the ground; and this was more
than enough to keep our equilibrium under the altitude of 100 yards,
above which we decided not to rise for the rest of the trip.

This first ascent allowed me to appreciate fully the utility of this
simple part of the spherical balloon's rigging, without which its
landing would usually present grave difficulties. When, for one reason
or another--humidity gathering on the surface of the balloon, a downward
stroke of wind, accidental loss of gas, or, more frequently, the passing
of a cloud before the face of the sun--the balloon came back to earth
with disquieting speed, the guide rope would come to rest in part on the
ground, and so, unballasting the whole system by so much of its weight,
stopped, or at least eased, the fall. Under contrary conditions any too
rapid upward tendency of the balloon was counterbalanced by the lifting
of the guide rope off the ground, so that a little more of its weight
became added to the weight of the floating system of the moment before.

Like all human devices, however, the guide rope, along with its
advantages, has its inconveniences. Its rubbing along the uneven
surfaces of the ground--over fields and meadows, hills and valleys,
roads and houses, hedges and telegraph wires--gives violent shocks to
the balloon. Or it may happen that the guide rope, rapidly unravelling
the snarl in which it has twisted itself, catches hold of some asperity
of the surface or winds itself around the trunk or branches of a tree.
Such an incident was alone lacking to complete my instruction.

As we passed a little group of trees a shock stronger than any hitherto
felt threw us backward in the basket. The balloon had stopped short,
and was swaying in the wind gusts at the end of its guide rope, which
had curled itself around the head of an oak. For a quarter of an hour
it kept us shaking like a salad-basket, and it was only by throwing
out a quantity of ballast that we finally got ourselves loose. The
lightened balloon made a tremendous leap upward and pierced the clouds
like a cannon-ball. Indeed, it threatened to reach dangerous heights,
considering the little ballast we had remaining in store for use in
descending. It was time to have recourse to effective means, to open the
manoeuvre valve and let out a portion of our gas.

It was the work of a moment. The balloon began descending to earth
again, and soon the guide rope again rested on the ground. There was
nothing to do but to bring the trip to an end, because only a few
handfuls of sand remained to us.

He who wishes to navigate an air-ship should first practise a good
many landings in a spherical balloon--that is, if he wishes to land
without breaking balloon, keel, motor, rudder, propeller, water-ballast
cylinders, and fuel holders. The wind being rather strong, it was
necessary to seek shelter for this last manoeuvre. At the end of the
plain a corner of the forest of Fontainebleau was hurrying toward us. In
a few moments we had turned the extremity of the wood, sacrificing our
last handful of ballast. The trees now protected us from the violence
of the wind, and we cast anchor, at the same time opening wide the
emergency valve for the wholesale escape of the gas.

The twofold manoeuvre landed us without the least dragging. We set foot
on solid ground, and stood there watching the balloon die. Stretched
out in the field, it was losing the remains of its gas in convulsive
agitations, like a great bird that dies in beating its wings.

After taking a dozen instantaneous photographs of the dying balloon
we folded it and packed it in the basket with its netting folded
alongside. The little chosen corner in which we had landed formed part
of the grounds of the Chateau de la Ferrière, belonging to M. Alphonse
de Rothschild. Labourers from a neighbouring field were sent for a
conveyance to the village of La Ferrière itself, and half-an-hour later
a brake came. Putting everything into it we set off to the railway
station, which was some 4 kilometres (2-1/2 miles) distant. There we
had some work to lift the basket with its contents to the ground, as it
weighed 200 kilogrammes (440 pounds). At 6.30 we were back at Paris,
after a journey of 100 kilometres (more than 60 miles), and nearly two
hours passed in the air.



CHAPTER IV

MY "BRAZIL"--SMALLEST OF SPHERICAL BALLOONS


I liked ballooning so much that, coming back from my first trip with M.
Machuron, I told him that I wanted a balloon built for myself. He liked
the idea. He thought that I wanted an ordinary-sized spherical balloon,
between 500 and 2000 cubic metres in volume. No one would think of
making one smaller.

It is only a short time ago, but it is curious how constructors still
clung to heavy materials. The smallest balloon basket had to weigh 30
kilogrammes (66 lbs.). Nothing was light--neither envelope, rigging, nor
accessories.

I gave M. Machuron my ideas. He cried out against it when I told him I
wanted a balloon of the lightest and toughest Japanese silk, 100 cubic
metres (about 3500 cubic feet) in volume. At the works both he and M.
Lachambre tried to prove to me that the thing was impossible.

[Illustration: "THE BRAZIL"

SMALLEST OF SPHERICAL BALLOONS]

How often have things been proved to me impossible! Now I am used to
it I expect it. But in those days it troubled me. Still I persevered.

They showed me that for a balloon to have "stability" it must have a
certain weight. Again, a balloon of 100 cubic metres, they said, would
be affected by the movements of the aeronaut in his basket much more
than a large balloon of regulation size.

[Illustration: Fig. 1.]

[Illustration: Fig. 2.]

With a large balloon the centre of gravity in the weight of the aeronaut
is as in Fig. 1, _a_. When the aeronaut moves, say, to the right in his
basket, Fig. 1, _b_, the centre of gravity of the whole system is not
shifted appreciably.

In a very small balloon the centre of gravity, Fig. 2, _a_, is
undisturbed only so long as the aeronaut sits straight in the centre of
his basket. When he moves to the right the centre of gravity, Fig. 2,
_b_, is shifted beyond the vertical line of the balloon's circumference,
causing the balloon to swing in the same direction.

Therefore, they said, your necessary movements in the basket will cause
your little balloon to roll and swing continually.

"We shall make the suspension tackle longer in proportion," I replied.
It was done, and the "Brazil" proved remarkably stable.

When I brought my light Japanese silk to M. Lachambre he looked at it
and said: "It will be too weak." But when we came to try it with the
dynamometer it surprised us. Tested thus, Chinese silk stands over 1000
kilogrammes (or 2200 lbs.) strain to the linear metre (3·3 feet). The
thin Japanese silk stood a strain of 700 kilogrammes (1540 lbs.)--that
is, it proved to be thirty times stronger than necessary according to
the theory of strains. This is astonishing when you consider that it
weighs only 30 grammes (a little more than one ounce) per square metre.
To show how experts may be mistaken in their merely off-hand judgments
I have been building my air-ship balloons of this same material; yet
the inside pressure they have to stand is enormous, while all spherical
balloons have a great hole in the bottom to relieve it.

As the proportions finally adopted for the "Brazil" were 113 cubic
metres (4104 cubic feet), corresponding to about 113 square metres (135
square yards) of silk surface, the whole envelope weighed scarcely
3-1/2 kilogrammes (less than 8 lbs.). But the weight of the varnish,
three coats, brought it up to 14 kilogrammes (about 31 lbs.). The net,
which often weighs into the hundreds of lbs., weighed 1800 grammes,
or nearly 4 lbs. The basket, which usually weighs 30 kilogrammes (66
lbs.) at a minimum, weighed 6 kilogrammes (13 lbs.); the basket which
I now have with my little "No. 9" weighs less than 5 kilogrammes (11
lbs.). My guide rope, small, but very long--100 yards--weighed at most 8
kilogrammes (17-1/2 lbs.); its length gave the "Brazil" a good spring.
Instead of an anchor I put in a little grappling-iron of 3 kilogrammes
(6-1/2 lbs.).

Making everything light in this way I found that, in spite of the
smallness of the balloon, it would have ascensional force to take up my
own weight of 50 kilogrammes (110 lbs.) and 30 kilogrammes (66 lbs.) of
ballast. As a fact, I took up that amount on my first trip. On another
occasion, when a French Cabinet Minister was present, anxious to see the
smallest spherical balloon ever made, I had practically no ballast at
all, only 4 or 5 kilogrammes (10 or 11 lbs.). Nevertheless, causing the
balloon to be weighed, I went up, and made a good ascent.

The "Brazil" was very handy in the air--easy to control. It was easy to
pack also on descending, and the story that I carried it in a valise is
true.

Before starting out in my little "Brazil" I made from twenty-five to
thirty ascents in ordinary spherical balloons, quite alone, as my own
captain and sole passenger. M. Lachambre had many public ascents, and
allowed me to do some of them for him. Thus I made ascents in many parts
of France and Belgium. As I got the pleasure and the experience, and as
I saved him the labour and paid all my own expenses and damages, it was
a mutually advantageous arrangement.

I do not believe that, without such previous study and experience
with a spherical balloon, a man can be capable of succeeding with an
elongated dirigible balloon, whose handling is so much more delicate.
Before attempting to direct an air-ship it is necessary to have learned
in an ordinary balloon the conditions of the atmospheric medium, to
have become acquainted with the caprices of the wind, and to have gone
thoroughly into the difficulties of the ballast problem from the triple
point of view of starting, of equilibrium in the air, and of landing at
the end of the trip.

To have been oneself the captain of an ordinary balloon at the very
least a dozen times seems to me an indispensable preliminary to
acquiring an exact notion of the requisites for constructing and
handling an elongated balloon furnished with its motor and propeller.

Naturally, I am filled with amazement when I see inventors, who have
never set a foot in the basket, drawing up on paper--and even executing
in whole or in part--fantastic air-ships, whose balloons are to have a
capacity of thousands of cubic metres, loaded down with enormous motors
which they do not succeed in raising from the ground, and furnished
with machinery so complicated that nothing works! Such inventors are
afraid of nothing, because they have no idea of the difficulties of the
problem. Had they previously journeyed through the air at the wind's
will, and amid all the disturbing influences of atmospheric phenomena,
they would understand that a dirigible balloon, to be practical,
requires first of all to have the utmost extreme of simplicity in all
its mechanism.

Some of the unhappy constructors who have paid with their lives the
forfeit of their rashness had never made a single responsible ascent as
captain of a spherical balloon! And the majority of their emulators, now
so devotedly labouring, are in the same inexperienced condition. This is
my explanation of their lack of success. They are in the condition in
which the first-comer would find himself were he to agree to build and
steer a transatlantic liner without having ever quitted land or set foot
in a boat!



CHAPTER V

THE REAL AND THE IMAGINARY DANGERS OF BALLOONING


One of the most astonishing adventures I had during this period of
spherical ballooning took place directly over Paris.

I had started from Vaugirard with four invited guests in a large balloon
constructed for me after I had tired of making solitary trips in the
little "Brazil."

From the start there seemed to be very little wind. I rose slowly,
seeking an air current. At 1000 metres (3/5 of a mile high) I found
nothing. At 1500 metres (one mile) we still remained almost stationary.
Throwing out more ballast we rose to 2000 metres (1-1/4 mile), when a
vagrant breeze started to take us over the centre of Paris.

When we had arrived at a point over the Louvre ... it left us! We
descended ... and found nothing!

Then happened the ludicrous thing. In a blue sky without a cloud, bathed
in sunlight, and with the faint yelps of all the dogs of Paris mounting
to our ears, we lay becalmed! Up we went again, hunting an air current.
Down we went again, hunting an air current. Up and down, up and down!
Hour after hour passed, and we remained always hanging, always over
Paris!

At first we laughed. Then we grew tired. Then almost alarmed. At one
time I had even the idea of landing in Paris itself, near the Gare de
Lyon, where I perceived an open space. Yet the attempt would have been
dangerous, because my four companions could not be depended on for
coolness in an emergency. They had not the ballooning habit.

Worst of all, we were now losing gas. Drifting slowly eastward hour
after hour one by one the sacks of ballast had been emptied. By the
time that we had reached the Vincennes wood we had begun to throw out
miscellaneous objects--ballast-sacks, the luncheon-baskets, two light
camp-stools, two kodaks, and a case of photographic plates!

All during this latter period we were quite low--not over 300 yards
above the tree-tops. Now, as we sank lower, we had a real fright. Would
not the guide rope at least curl itself around some tree and hold us
there for hours? So we struggled to maintain our altitude above the
tree-tops, until all at once a queer little wind gust took us over the
Vincennes racecourse.

"Now is our time!" I exclaimed to my companions. "Hold fast!"

With this I pulled on the valve rope, and we came down with celerity but
scarcely any shock.

Personally, I have felt not only fear but also pain and real despair in
a spherical balloon. It has not been often, because no sport is more
regularly safe and mild and pleasurable. Such real dangers as it has are
confined usually to the landing, and the balloonist of experience knows
how to meet them; while from its imaginary dangers in the air one is
regularly very safe. Therefore the particular adventure, full of pain
and fear, that I recall to mind was all the more remarkable in that it
occurred in high altitude.

It happened at Nice in 1900, when I went up from the Place Masséna in a
good-sized spherical balloon, alone, and intending to drift a few hours
only amid the enchanting scenery of the mountains and the sea.

The weather was fine, but the barometer soon fell, indicating storm. For
a time the wind took me in the direction of Cimiez, but as I rose it
threatened to carry me out to sea. I threw out ballast, abandoned the
current, and mounted to the height of about a mile.

Shortly after this I let the balloon go down again, hoping to find a
safe air current, but when within 300 yards of the ground, near the Var,
I noticed that I had ceased descending. As I had determined to land soon
in any case I pulled on the valve rope and let out more gas. And here
the terrible experience began.

I could not go down. I glanced at the barometer, and found, indeed, that
I was going up. Yet I ought to be descending, and I felt--by the wind
and everything--that I must be descending. Had I not let out gas?

To my great uneasiness I discovered only too soon what was wrong. In
spite of my continuous apparent descent I was, nevertheless, being
lifted by an enormous column of air rushing upward. While I fell in it
I rose rapidly higher with it.

I opened the valve again; it was useless. The barometer showed that I
had reached a still greater altitude, and I could now take account of
the fact by the way in which the land was disappearing under me. I now
closed the valve to save my gas. There was nothing but to wait and see
what would happen.

The upward-rushing column of air continued to take me to a height
of 3000 metres (almost 2 miles). I could do nothing but watch the
barometer. Then, after what seemed a long time, it showed that I had
begun descending.

When I began to see land I threw out ballast, not to strike the earth
too quickly. Now I could perceive the storm beating the trees and
shrubbery. Up in the storm itself I had felt nothing.

Now, too, as I continued falling lower, I could see how swiftly I was
being carried laterally. By the time I perceived the coming danger I was
in it. Carried along at a terrific rate, knocking against the tops of
trees, and continually threatened with a painful death, I threw out my
anchor. It caught in trees and shrubs and broke away. Had it been heavy
timber all would have been over with me. As it chanced, I was dragged
through the small trees and yielding shrubbery, my face a mass of cuts
and bruises, my clothes torn from my back, in pain and strain, fearing
the worst, and able to do nothing to save myself. Just as I had given
myself up for lost the guide rope wound itself around a tree and held. I
was precipitated from the basket, and fell unconscious. When I came to I
had to walk some distance until I met some peasants. They helped me back
to Nice, where I went to bed, and had the doctors sew me up.

During the early period when I was glad to make public ascents for my
balloon constructor I had undergone a somewhat similar experience, and
that by night. The ascent took place at Péronne, in the north of France,
one stormy afternoon, quite late. Indeed, I started in spite of thunder
threatening in the distance, a gloomy semi-twilight all around me, and
the remonstrances of the public, among whom it was known that I was not
an aeronaut by trade. They feared my inexperience, and wished me either
to renounce the ascent or else to oblige me to take up the balloon
constructor with me, he being the responsible organiser of the _fête_.

I would listen to nothing, and started off as I had planned. Soon I
had cause to regret my rashness. I was alone, lost in the clouds, amid
flashes of lightning and claps of thunder, in the rapidly-approaching
darkness of the night!

On, on I went tearing in the blackness. I knew that I must be going with
great speed, yet felt no motion. I heard and felt the storm. I formed a
part of the storm. I felt myself in great danger, yet the danger was not
tangible. With it there was a fierce kind of joy. What shall I say? How
shall I describe it? Up there in the black solitude, amid the lightning
flashes and the thunderclaps, I was a part of the storm.

When I landed the next morning--long after I had sought a higher
altitude and let the storm pass on beneath me--I found that I was well
into Belgium. The dawn was peaceful, so that my landing took place
without difficulty. I mention this adventure because it was made account
of in the papers of the time, and to show that night ballooning, even in
a storm, may be more dangerous in appearance than reality. Indeed, night
ballooning has a charm that is all its own.

One is alone in the black void--true, in a murky limbo, where one seems
to float without weight, without a surrounding world--a soul freed from
the weight of matter. Yet now and again there are the lights of earth to
cheer one. We see a point of light far on ahead. Slowly it expands. Then
where there was one blaze there are countless bright spots. They run in
lines, with here and there a brighter cluster. We know that it is a city.

Then, again, it is out into the lone land, with only a faint glow here
and there. When the moon rises we see, perhaps, a faint curling line of
grey. It is a river, with the moonlight falling on its waters.

There is a flash upward and a faint roar. It is a railway train, the
locomotive's fires, maybe, illuminating for a moment its smoke as it
rises.

Then for safety we throw out more ballast, and rise through the black
solitudes of the clouds into a soul-lifting burst of splendid starlight.
There, alone with the constellations, we await the dawn.

And when the dawn comes, red and gold and purple in its glory, one is
almost loth to seek the earth again, although the novelty of landing in
who knows what part of Europe affords still another unique pleasure.

For many the great charm of all ballooning lies here. The balloonist
becomes an explorer. Say that you are a young man who would roam, who
would enjoy adventures, who would penetrate the unknown and deal with
the unexpected--but say that you are tied down at home by family and
business. I advise you to take to spherical ballooning. At noon you
lunch peaceably amid your family. At 2 P.M. you mount. Ten minutes
later you are no longer a commonplace citizen--you are an explorer, an
adventurer of the unknown as truly as they who freeze on Greenland's icy
mountains or melt on India's coral strand.

You know but vaguely where you are and cannot know where you are
going. Yet much may depend upon your choice as well as your skill and
experience. The choice of altitude is yours--whether to accept this
current or mount higher and go with another. You may mount above the
clouds, where one breathes oxygen from tubes, while the earth, in the
last glimpse you had of it, seems to spin beneath you, and you lose
all bearings; or you may descend and scud along the surface, aided
by your guide rope and a dipperful of ballast to leap over trees and
houses--giant leaps made without effort.

Then when the time comes to land there is the true explorer's zest of
coming on unknown peoples like a god from a machine. "What country is
this?" Will the answer come in German, Russian, or Norwegian? Paris
Aéro Club members have been shot at when crossing European frontiers.
Others, landing, have been taken prisoners to the burgomeister or the
military governor, to languish as spies while the telegraph clicked to
the far-off capital, and then to end the evening over champagne at an
officers' enthusiastic mess. Still others have had to strive with the
dangerous ignorance and superstition even of some remote little peasant
population. These are the chances of the winds.

[Illustration: MOTOR OF "No. 1"]



CHAPTER VI

I YIELD TO THE STEERABLE BALLOON IDEA


During my ascent with M. Machuron, while our guide rope was wrapped
around the tree and the wind was shaking us so outrageously, he improved
the occasion to discourage me against all steerable ballooning.

"Observe the treachery and vindictiveness of the wind," he cried between
shocks. "We are tied to the tree, yet see with what force it tries to
jerk us loose." (Here I was thrown again to the bottom of the basket.)
"What screw propeller could hold a course against it? What elongated
balloon would not double up and take you flying to destruction?"

It was discouraging. Returning to Paris by rail I gave up the ambition
to continue Giffard's trials, and this state of mind lasted with me
for weeks. I would have argued fluently against the dirigibility of
balloons. Then came a new period of temptation, for a long-cherished
idea dies hard. When I took account of its practical difficulties I
found my mind working automatically to convince itself that they were
not. I caught myself saying: "If I make a cylindrical balloon long
enough and thin enough it will cut the air ..." and, with respect to the
wind, "shall I not be as a sailing yachtsman who is not criticised for
refusing to go out in a squall?"

At last an accident decided me. I have always been charmed by
simplicity, while complications, be they never so ingenious, repel me.
Automobile tricycle motors happened to be very much perfected at the
moment. I delighted in their simplicity, and, illogically enough, their
merits had the effect of deciding my mind against all other objections
to steerable ballooning.

"I will use this light and powerful motor," I said. "Giffard had no such
opportunity."

Giffard's primitive steam-engine, weak in proportion to its weight,
spitting red-hot sparks from its coal fuel, had afforded that courageous
innovator no fair chance, I argued. I did not dally a single moment
with the idea of an electric motor, which promises little danger, it is
true, but which has the capital ballooning defect of being the heaviest
known engine, counting the weight of its battery. Indeed, I have so
little patience with the idea that I shall say no more about it except
to repeat what Mr Edison said to me on this head in April 1902: "You
have done well," he said, "to choose the petroleum motor. It is the only
one of which an aeronaut can dream in the present state of the industry;
and steerable balloons with electric motors, especially as they were
fifteen or twenty years ago, could have led to no result. That is why
the Tissandier brothers gave them up."

In spite of the recent immense improvements made in the steam-engine it
would not have been able to decide me in favour of steerable ballooning.
Motor for motor it is, perhaps, better than the petroleum motor, but
when you compare the boiler with the carburator the latter weighs
grammes per horse-power while the boiler weighs kilogrammes. In certain
light steam-motors, that are lighter even than petroleum motors, the
boiler always ruins the proportion. With one pound of petroleum you can
exert one horse-power during one hour. To get this same energy from
the most improved steam-engine you will want many kilogrammes of water
and of fuel, be it petroleum or other. Even condensing the water, you
cannot have less than several kilogrammes per horse-power.

Then if one uses coal fuel with the steam-motor there are the burning
sparks; while if one uses petroleum with burners you have a great amount
of fire. We must do the petroleum motor the justice to admit that it
makes neither flame nor burning sparks.

At the present moment I have a Clement petroleum motor that weighs but 2
kilogrammes (4-1/2 lbs.) per horse-power. This is my 60 horse-power "No.
7," whose total weight is but 120 kilogrammes (264 lbs.). Compare this
with the new steel-and-nickel battery of Mr Edison, which promises to
weigh 18 kilogrammes (40 lbs.) per horse-power.

The light weight and the simplicity of the little tricycle motor of
1897 are, therefore, responsible for all my trials. I started from
this principle: To make any kind of success it would be necessary to
economise weight, and so comply with the pecuniary, as well as the
mechanical, conditions of the problem.

Nowadays I build air-ships in a large way. I am in it as a kind of
lifework. Then I was but a half-decided beginner, unwilling to spend
large sums of money in a doubtful project.

Therefore I resolved to build an elongated balloon just large enough to
raise, along with my own 50 kilogrammes (110 lbs.) of weight, as much
more as might be necessary for the basket and rigging, motor, fuel, and
absolutely indispensable ballast. In reality I was building an air-ship
to fit my little tricycle motor.

I looked for the workshop of some small mechanic near my residence in
the centre of residential Paris where I could have my plans executed
under my own eyes and could apply my own hands to the task. I found
such an one in the Rue du Colisée. There I first worked out a tandem
of two cylinders of a tricycle motor--that is, their prolongation, one
after the other, to work the same connecting-rod while fed by a single
carburator.

To bring everything down to a minimum weight, I cut out from every part
of the motor whatever was not strictly necessary to solidity. In this
way I realised something that was interesting in those days--a 3-1/2
horse-power motor that weighed 30 kilogrammes (66 lbs.).

I soon had an opportunity to test my tandem motor. The great series
of automobile road-races, which seems to have had its climax in
Paris-Madrid in 1903, was raising the power of these wonderful engines
by leaps and bounds year after year. Paris-Bordeaux in 1895 was won with
a 4 horse-power machine at an average speed of 25 kilometres (15-1/2
miles) per hour. In 1896 Paris-Marseilles-and-return was accomplished
at the rate of 30 kilometres (18-1/2 miles) per hour. Now, in 1897, it
was Paris-Amsterdam. Although not entered for the race it occurred to
me to try my tandem motor attached to its original tricycle. I started,
and to my contentment found that I could keep well up with the pace.
Indeed, I might have won a good place in the finish--my vehicle was the
most powerful of the lot in proportion to its weight, and the average
speed of the winner was only 40 kilometres (25 miles) per hour--had I
not begun to fear that the jarring of my motor in so strenuous an effort
might in the long run derange it, and I imagined I had more important
work for it to do.

For that matter, my automobiling experience has stood me in good
stead with my air-ships. The petroleum motor is still a delicate and
capricious thing, and there are sounds in its spitting rumble that are
intelligible only to the long-experienced ear. Should the time come
in some future flight of mine when the motor of my air-ship threatens
danger I am convinced that my ear will hear, and I shall heed, the
warning. This almost instinctive faculty I owe only to experience.
Having broken up the tricycle for the sake of its motor I purchased at
about this time an up-to-date 6 horse-power Panhard, with which I went
from Paris to Nice in 54 hours--night and day, without stop--and had
I not taken up dirigible ballooning I must have become a road-racing
automobile enthusiast, continually exchanging one type for another,
continually in search of greater speed, keeping pace with the progress
of the industry, as so many others do, to the glory of French mechanics
and the new Parisian sporting spirit.

But my air-ships stopped me. While experimenting I was tied down to
Paris. I could take no long trips, and the petroleum automobile, with
its wonderful facility for finding fuel in every hamlet, lost its
greatest use in my eyes. In 1898 I happened to see what was to me an
unknown make of light American electric buggy. It appealed alike to my
eye, my needs, and my reason, and I bought it. I have never had cause
to regret the purchase. It serves me for running about Paris, and it
goes lightly, noiselessly, and without odour.

I had already handed the plan of my balloon envelope to the
constructors. It was that of a cylindrical balloon terminating fore
and aft in cones, 25 metres (82-1/2 feet) long, with a diameter of
3·5 metres (11-1/2 feet) and a gas capacity of 180 cubic metres (6354
cubic feet). My calculations had left me only 30 kilogrammes (66 lbs.)
for both the balloon material and its varnish. Therefore I gave up
the usual network and _chemise_, or outer cover; indeed, I considered
this second envelope, holding the balloon proper within it, to be not
only superfluous but harmful, if not dangerous. Instead I attached the
suspension cords of my basket directly to the balloon envelope by means
of small wooden rods introduced into long horizontal hems sewed on both
sides to its stuff for a great part of the balloon's length. Again, in
order not to pass my 30 kilogrammes (66 lbs.), including varnish, I
was obliged to have recourse to my Japanese silk, which had proved so
staunch in the "Brazil."

After glancing at this order for the balloon envelope M. Lachambre at
first refused it plumply. He would not make himself a party to such
rashness. But when I recalled to his memory how he had said the same
thing with respect to the "Brazil," and went on to assure him that, if
necessary, I would cut and sew the balloon with my own hands, he gave
way to me and undertook the job. He would cut and sew and varnish the
balloon according to my plans.

The balloon envelope being thus put under way I prepared my basket,
motor, propeller, rudder, and machinery. When they were completed I made
many trials with them, suspending the whole system by a cord from the
rafters of the workshop, starting the motor, and measuring the force
of the forward swing caused by the propeller working on the atmosphere
behind it. Holding back this forward movement by means of a horizontal
rope attached to a dynamometer, I found that the traction power
developed by the motor in my propeller with two arms, each measuring
one metre across, was as high as 11·4 kilogrammes (25 lbs.). This
was a figure that promised good speed to a cylindrical balloon of my
dimensions, whose length was equal to nearly seven times its diameter.
With 1200 turns to the minute the propeller, which was attached
directly to the motor shaft, might easily, if all went well, give the
air-ship a speed of not less than 8 metres (26-1/2 feet) per second.

[Illustration: Fig. 3.]

The rudder I made of silk, stretched over a triangular steel frame.
There now remained nothing to devise but a system of shifting weights,
which from the very first I saw would be indispensable. For this purpose
I placed two bags of ballast, one fore and one aft, suspended from the
balloon envelope by cords. By means of lighter cords each of these two
weights could be drawn into the basket (see Fig. 3), thus shifting the
centre of gravity of the whole system. Pulling in the fore weight would
cause the stem of the balloon to point diagonally upward; pulling in
the aft weight would have just the opposite effect. Besides these I had
a guide rope some 60 metres (200 feet) long, which could also be used,
at need, as shifting ballast.

All this occupied several months, and the work was all carried on in the
little machine-shop of the Rue du Colisée, only a few steps from the
place where later the Paris Aéro Club was to have its first offices.



CHAPTER VII

MY FIRST AIR-SHIP CRUISES (1898)


In the middle of September 1898 I was ready to begin in the open air.
The rumour had spread among the aeronauts of Paris, who formed the
nucleus of the Aéro Club, that I was going to carry up a petroleum
motor in my basket. They were sincerely disquieted by what they
called my temerity, and some of them made friendly efforts to show
me the permanent danger of such a motor under a balloon filled with
a highly inflammable gas. They begged me instead to use the electric
motor--"which is infinitely less dangerous."

I had arranged to inflate the balloon at the Jardin d'Acclimatation,
where a captive balloon was already installed and furnished with
everything needful daily. This gave me facilities for obtaining, at
one franc per cubic metre, the 180 cubic metres (6354 cubic feet) of
hydrogen which I needed.

[Illustration: THE "SANTOS-DUMONT No. 1"

FIRST START]

On September 18th my first air-ship--the "Santos-Dumont No. 1," as it
has since been called to distinguish it from those which followed--lay
stretched out on the turf amid the trees of the beautiful Jardin
d'Acclimatation, the new Zoological Garden of the west of Paris. To
understand what happened I must explain the starting of spherical
balloons from such places where groups of trees and other obstructions
surround the open space.

When the weighing and balancing of the balloon are finished and the
aeronauts have taken their place in the basket the balloon is ready to
quit the ground with a certain ascensional force. Thereupon aids carry
it toward an extremity of the open space in the direction from which
the wind happens to be blowing, and it is there that the order: "Let
go all!" is given. In this way the balloon has the entire open space
to cross before reaching the trees or other obstructions which may be
opposite and toward which the wind would naturally carry it. So it has
space and time to rise high enough to pass over them. Moreover, the
ascensional force of the balloon is regulated accordingly: it is very
little if the wind be light; it is more if the wind be stronger.

I had thought that my air-ship would be able to go against the wind
that was then blowing, therefore I had intended to place it for the
start at precisely the other end of the open space from that which I
have described--that is, down stream, and not up stream in the air
current with relation to the open space surrounded by trees. I would
thus move out of the open space without difficulty, having the wind
against me--for under such conditions the relative speed of the air-ship
ought to be the difference between its absolute speed and the velocity
of the wind--and so by going against the air current I should have
plenty of time to rise and pass over the trees. Evidently it would be
a mistake to place the air-ship at a point suitable for an ordinary
balloon without motor and propeller.

And yet it was there that I did place it, not by my own will, but by the
will of the professional aeronauts who came in the crowd to be present
at my experiment. In vain I explained that by placing myself "up stream"
in the wind with relation to the centre of the open space I should
inevitably risk precipitating the air-ship against the trees before I
would have time to rise above them, the speed of my propeller being
superior to that of the wind then blowing.

All was useless. The aeronauts had never seen a dirigible balloon start
off. They could not admit of its starting under other conditions than
those of a spherical balloon, in spite of the essential difference
between the two. As I was alone against them all I had the weakness to
yield.

I started off from the spot they indicated, and within a second's time I
tore my air-ship against the trees, as I had feared I should do. After
this deny if you can the existence of a fulcrum in the air.

This accident at least served to show the effectiveness of my motor and
propeller in the air to those who doubted it before.

I did not waste time in regrets. Two days later, on September 20th, I
actually started from the same open space, this time choosing my own
starting-point.

I passed over the tops of the trees without mishap, and at once began
sailing around them, to give on the spot a first demonstration of the
air-ship to the great crowd of Parisians that had assembled. I had their
sympathy and applause then, as I have ever had it since; the Parisian
public has always been a kind and enthusiastic witness of my efforts.

Under the combined action of the propeller impulse, of the steering
rudder, of the displacement of the guide rope, and of the two sacks of
ballast sliding backward and forward as I willed, I had the satisfaction
of making my evolutions in every direction--to right and left, and up
and down.

Such a result encouraged me, and, being inexperienced, I made the great
mistake of mounting high in the air to 400 metres (1300 feet), an
altitude that is considered nothing for a spherical balloon, but which
is absurd and uselessly dangerous for an air-ship under trial.

At this height I commanded a view of all the monuments of Paris. I
continued my evolutions in the direction of the Longchamps racecourse,
which from that day I chose for the scene of my aerial experiments.

So long as I continued to ascend the hydrogen increased in volume as a
consequence of the atmospheric depression. So by its tension the balloon
was kept taut, and everything went well. It was not the same when I
began descending. The air pump, which was intended to compensate the
contraction of the hydrogen, was of insufficient capacity. The balloon,
a long cylinder, all at once began to fold in the middle like a pocket
knife, the tension of the cords became unequal, and the balloon envelope
was on the point of being torn by them. At that moment I thought that
all was over, the more so as the descent, which had begun, could no
longer be checked by any of the usual means on board, where nothing
worked.

The descent became a fall. Luckily, I was falling in the neighbourhood
of the grassy turf of Bagatelle, where some big boys were flying kites.
A sudden idea struck me. I cried to them to grasp the end of my guide
rope, which had already touched the ground, and to run as fast as they
could with it _against the wind_.

They were bright young fellows, and they grasped the idea and the rope
at the same lucky instant. The effect of this help _in extremis_ was
immediate, and such as I had hoped. By the manoeuvre we lessened the
velocity of the fall, and so avoided what would have otherwise have been
a bad shaking-up, to say the least.

I was saved for the first time. Thanking the brave boys, who continued
aiding me to pack everything into the air-ship's basket, I finally
secured a cab and took the relics back to Paris.



CHAPTER VIII

HOW IT FEELS TO NAVIGATE THE AIR


Notwithstanding the breakdown I felt nothing but elation that night. The
sentiment of success filled me: I had navigated the air.

I had performed every evolution prescribed by the problem. _The
breakdown itself had not been due to any cause foreseen by the
professional aeronauts._

I had mounted without sacrificing ballast. I had descended without
sacrificing gas. My shifting weights had proved successful, and it would
have been impossible not to recognise the capital triumph of these
oblique flights through the air. No one had ever made them before.

Of course, when starting, or shortly after leaving the ground, one has
sometimes to throw out ballast to balance the machine, as one may have
made a mistake and started with the air-ship far too heavy. What I have
referred to are manoeuvres in the air.

[Illustration: "No. 4" FREE DIAGONAL MOVEMENT UP]

[Illustration: "No. 6." FREE DIAGONAL MOVEMENT DOWN]

My first impression of aerial navigation was, I confess, surprise to
feel the air-ship going straight ahead. It was astonishing to feel the
wind in my face. In spherical ballooning we go with the wind, and do not
feel it. True, in rising and descending the spherical balloonist feels
the friction of the atmosphere, and the vertical oscillation makes the
flag flutter, but in the horizontal movement the ordinary balloon seems
to stand still, while the earth flies past under it.

As my air-ship ploughed ahead the wind struck my face and fluttered my
coat, as on the deck of a transatlantic liner, though in other respects
it will be more accurate to liken aerial to river navigation with a
steamboat. It is not like sail navigation, and all talk about "tacking"
is meaningless. If there is any wind at all it is in a given direction,
so that the analogy with a river current is complete. When there is no
wind at all we may liken it to the navigation of a smooth lake or pond.
It will be well to understand this matter.

Suppose that my motor and propeller push me through the air at the rate
of 20 miles an hour, I am in the position of a steamboat captain whose
propeller is driving him up or down the river at the rate of 20 miles
an hour. Imagine the current to be 10 miles per hour. If he navigates
against the current he accomplishes 10 miles an hour with respect to
the shore, though he has been travelling at the rate of 20 miles an
hour through the water. If he goes with the current he accomplishes 30
miles an hour with respect to the shore, though he has not been going
any faster through the water. This is one of the reasons why it is so
difficult to estimate the speed of an air-ship.

It is also the reason why air-ship captains will always prefer to
navigate for their own pleasure in calm weather, and, when they find an
air current against them, will steer obliquely upward or downward to get
out of it. Birds do the same thing. The sailing yachtsman whistles for
a fair breeze, without which he can do nothing, but the river steamboat
captain will always hug the shore to avoid the freshet, and will time
his descent of the river by the outgoing, rather than the incoming,
tide. We air-shipmen are steamboat captains and not sailing yachtsmen.

The navigator of the air, however, has the one great advantage--he can
leave one current for another. The air is full of varying currents.
Mounting, he will find an advantageous breeze or else a calm. These
are strictly practical considerations, having nothing to do with the
air-ship's ability to battle with the breeze when obliged to do it.

Before going on my first trip I had wondered if I should be sea-sick.
I foresaw that the sensation of mounting and descending obliquely with
my shifting weights might be unpleasant. And I looked forward to a good
deal of pitching (_tangage_), as they say on board ship--of rolling
there would not be so much--but both sensations would be novel in
ballooning, for the spherical balloon gives no sensation of movement at
all.

In my first air-ship, however, the suspension was very long,
approximating that of a spherical balloon. For this reason there
was very little pitching. And, speaking generally, since that time,
though I have been told that on this or that trip my air-ship pitched
considerably, I have never been sea-sick. It may be due in part to the
fact that I am rarely subject to this ill upon the water. Back and forth
between Brazil and France and between France and the United States
I have had experience of all kinds of weather. Once, on the way to
Brazil, the storm was so violent that the grand piano went loose and
broke a lady's leg, yet I was not sea-sick.

I know that what one feels most distressingly at sea is not so much the
movement as that momentary hesitation just before the boat pitches,
followed by the malicious dipping or mounting, which never comes quite
the same, and the shock at top and bottom. All this is powerfully aided
by the smells of the paint, varnish, tar, mingled with the odours of the
kitchen, the heat of the boilers, and the stench of the smoke and the
hold.

In the air-ship there is no smell--all is pure and clean--and the
pitching itself has none of the shocks and hesitations of the boat at
sea. The movement is suave and flowing, which is doubtless owing to the
lesser resistance of the air waves. The pitches are less frequent and
rapid than those at sea; the dip is not brusquely arrested, so that the
mind can anticipate the curve to its end; and there is no shock to give
that queer, "empty" sensation to the solar plexus.

Furthermore, the shocks of a transatlantic liner are due first to the
fore, and then to the after, part of the giant construction rising out
of the water to plunge into it again. The air-ship never leaves its
medium--the air--in which it only swings.

This consideration brings me to the most remarkable of all the
sensations of aerial navigation. On my first trip it actually shocked
me! This is the utterly new sensation of movement in an extra dimension!

Man has never known anything like free vertical existence. Held to the
plane of the earth, his movement "down" has scarcely been more than to
return to it after a short excursion "up," our minds remaining always on
the plane surface even while our bodies may be mounting; and this is so
much the case that the spherical balloonist as he rises has no sense of
movement, but gains the impression that the earth is descending below
him.

_With respect to combinations of vertical and horizontal movements,
man is absolutely without experience of them._ Therefore, as all our
sensations of movement are practically in two dimensions, this is
the extraordinary novelty of aerial navigation that it affords us
experiences--not in the fourth dimension, it is true--but in what
is practically an extra dimension--the third--so that the miracle
is similar. Indeed, I cannot describe the delight, the wonder, and
intoxication of this free diagonal movement onward and upward or onward
and downward, combined at will with brusque changes of direction
horizontally when the air-ship answers to a touch of the rudder! The
birds have this sensation when they spread their great wings and go
tobogganning in curves and spirals through the sky!

        Por mares nunca d'antes navegados!
           (O'er seas hereto unsailed.)

The line of our great poet echoed in my memory from childhood. After
this first of all my cruises I had it put on my flag.

It is true that spherical ballooning had prepared me for the mere
sensation of height; but that is a very different matter. It is,
therefore, curious that, prepared on this head as I was, the mere
thought of height should have given me my only unpleasant experience.
What I mean is this:

The wonderful new combinations of vertical and horizontal movements,
utterly out of previous human experience, caused me neither surprise
nor trouble. I would find myself ploughing diagonally upward through
the air with a kind of instinctive liberty. And yet when moving
horizontally--as you would say, in the natural position--a glance
downwards at the house-tops disquieted me.

[Illustration: THE HOUSETOPS LOOK SO DANGEROUS]

"What if I should fall?" the thought came. The house-tops looked so
dangerous with their chimney-pots for spikes. One seldom has this
thought in a spherical balloon, because we know that the danger in the
air is _nil_: the great spherical balloon can neither suddenly lose
its gas nor burst. My little air-ship balloon had to support not only
exterior but interior pressure as well--which is not the case with a
spherical balloon, as I shall explain in the next chapter--and any
injury to the cylindrical form of my air-ship balloon by loss of gas
might prove fatal.

While over the house-tops I felt that it would be bad to fall, but as
soon as I left Paris and was navigating over the forest of the Bois de
Boulogne the idea left me entirely. Below there seemed to be an ocean of
greenery, soft and safe.

It was while over the continuation of this greenery in the grassy
_pelouse_ of the Longchamps racecourse that my balloon, having lost a
great deal of its gas, began to double on itself. Previously I had heard
a noise. Looking up, I saw that the long cylinder of the balloon was
beginning to break. Then I was astonished and troubled. I wondered what
I could do.

I could not think of anything to do. I might throw out ballast. That
would cause the air-ship to rise, and the decreased pressure of the
atmosphere would doubtless permit the expanding gas to straighten out
the balloon again taut and strong. But I remembered that I must always
come down again when all the danger would repeat itself, and worse even
than before, from the more gas I should have lost. There was nothing to
do but to go on down instantly.

I remember having the sure idea: "If that balloon cylinder doubles any
more, the ropes by which I am suspended to it will work at different
strengths and will begin to break one by one as I go down!"

For the moment I was sure that I was in the presence of death. Well, I
will tell it frankly, my sentiment was almost entirely that of waiting
and expectation.

"What is coming next?" I thought. "What am I going to see and know in a
few minutes? Whom shall I see after I am dead?"

[Illustration: OVER THE BOIS DE BOULOGNE. BELOW THERE SEEMED TO BE AN
OCEAN OF GREENERY, SOFT AND SAFE]

The thought that I should be meeting my father in a few minutes
thrilled me. Indeed, I think that in such moments there is no room
either for regret or terror. The mind is too full of looking forward.
One is frightened only so long as one still has a chance.



CHAPTER IX

EXPLOSIVE ENGINES AND INFLAMMABLE GASES


I have been so often and so sincerely warned against what is taken for
granted to be the patent danger of operating explosive engines under
masses of inflammable gases that I may be pardoned for stopping a moment
to disclaim undue or thoughtless rashness.

Very naturally, from the first, the question of physical danger to
myself called for consideration. I was the interested party, and I
tried to view the question from all points. Well, the outcome of these
meditations was to make me fear fire very little, while doubting other
possibilities against which no one ever dreamed of warning me.

[Illustration: THE QUESTION OF PHYSICAL DANGER]

I remember that while working on the first of all my air-ships in that
little carpenter shop of the Rue du Colisée I used to wonder how the
vibrations of the petroleum motor would affect the system when it got in
the air.

In those days we did not have the noiseless automobiles, free from
great vibration, of the present. Nowadays, even the colossal 80 and
90 horse-power motors of the latest racing types can be started and
stopped as gently as those great steel hammers in iron foundries, whose
engineers make a trick of cracking the top of an egg with them without
breaking the rest of the shell.

My tandem motor of two cylinders, working the same connecting-rod and
fed by a single carburator, realised 3-1/2 horse-power--at that time a
considerable force for its weight--and I had no idea how it would act
off terra firma. I had seen motors "jump" along the highway. What would
mine do in its little basket, that weighed almost nothing, and suspended
from a balloon that weighed less than nothing?

You know the principle of these motors? One may say that there is
gasoline in a receptacle. Air passing through it comes out mixed with
gasoline gas, ready to explode. You give a whirl to a crank, and the
thing begins working automatically. The piston goes down, sucking
combined gas and air into the cylinder. Then the piston comes back and
compresses it. At that moment an electric spark is struck. An explosion
follows instantly; and the piston goes down, producing work. Then it
goes up, throwing out the product of combustion. Thus with the two
cylinders there was one explosion for every turn of the shaft.

Wishing to have my mind clear on the question I took my tricycle, just
as it was after I had left the Paris-Amsterdam race, and, accompanied
by a capable companion, I steered it to a lonely part of the Bois de
Boulogne. There in the forest I chose a great tree with low-hanging
limbs. From two of them we suspended the motor tricycle by three ropes.

When we had well established the suspension my companion aided me to
climb up and seat myself on the tricycle saddle. I was as in a swing.
In a moment I would start the motor and learn something of my future
success or failure.

Would the vibration of the explosive engine shake me back and forth,
strain at the ropes until it had unequalised their tension, and then
break them one by one? Would it jar the interior air balloon's pump and
derange the big balloon's valves? Would it continually jerk and pull
at the silk hems and the thin rods which were to hold my basket to the
balloon? Free from the steadying influence of the solid ground, would
the jumping motor jar itself until it broke? And, breaking, might it not
explode?

All this and more had been predicted by the professional aeronauts, and
I had as yet no proof outside of reasoning that they might not be right
on this or that topic.

I started the motor. I felt no particular vibration, and I was certainly
not being shaken. I increased the speed, and felt _less_ vibration!
There could be no doubt about it--there was less vibration in this
light-weight tricycle hanging in the air than I had regularly felt while
travelling on the ground. It was my first triumph in the air!

I will say frankly that as I rose in the air on my first trip I had no
fear of fire. What I feared was that the balloon might burst by reason
of its interior pressure. I still fear it.

Before going up I had minutely tried the valves. I still try them
minutely before each of my trips. The danger, of course, was that the
valves might not work adequately, in which case the expanding of the
gas as the balloon rose would cause the dreaded explosion. Here is the
great difference between spherical and dirigible balloons. The spherical
balloon is always open. When it is taut with gas it is shaped like an
apple; when it has lost part of its gas it takes the shape of a pear;
but in each case there is a great hole in the bottom of the spherical
balloon where the stem of the apple or the pear would be, and it is
through this hole that the gas has opportunity to ease itself in the
constant alternations of condensation and dilatation. Having such a free
vent, the spherical balloon runs no risk of bursting in the air; but the
price paid for this immunity is great loss of gas and, consequently, a
fatal shortening of the spherical balloon's stay in the air. Some day a
spherical balloonist will close up that hole; indeed, they already talk
of doing it.

I was obliged to do it in my air-ship balloon, whose cylindrical form
must be preserved at all cost. For me there must be no transformations
as from apple to pear. Interior pressure only could guarantee me this.
The valves to which I refer have since my first experiments been of all
kinds--some very ingeniously interacting, others of extreme simplicity.
But their object in each case has always been the same: to hold the gas
tight in the balloon up to a certain pressure and then let only enough
out to relieve dangerous interior pressure. It is easy to realise,
therefore, that should these valves refuse to act adequately the danger
of bursting would be there.

This possible danger I acknowledged to myself, but it had nothing to do
with fire from the explosive motor. Yet during all my preparations, and
up to the moment of calling: "Let go all!" the professional aeronauts,
completely overlooking this weak point of the air-ship, continued to
warn me against fire, of which I had no fear at all!

"Do we dare strike matches in the basket of a spherical balloon?" they
asked.

"Do we even permit ourselves the solace of a cigarette on trips that
last for many hours?"

To me the cases did not seem the same. In the first place, why should
one not light a match in the basket of a spherical balloon? If it be
only because the mind vaguely connects the ideas of gas and flame the
danger remains as ideal. If it be because of a real possibility of
igniting gas that has escaped from the free hole in the stem of the
spherical balloon it would not apply to me. My balloon, hermetically
closed, except when excessive pressure should let either air or a
very little gas escape through one of the automatic valves, might
for a moment leave a little trail of gas _behind_ it as it moved on
horizontally or diagonally, but there would be none in front where the
motor was. (See Fig. 4.)

[Illustration: Fig. 4]

In this first air-ship I had placed the gas escape valves even farther
from the motor than I place them to-day. The suspension cords being very
long I hung in my basket far below the balloon. Therefore I asked myself:

"How could this motor, so far below the balloon, and so far in front of
its escape valves, set fire to the gas enclosed in it when such gas is
not inflammable until mixed with air?"

On this first trial, as in most since, I used hydrogen gas. Undoubtedly
when mixed with air it is tremendously inflammable--but it must first
mix with air. All my little balloon models are kept filled with
hydrogen, and, so filled, I have more than once amused myself by burning
_inside them_, not their hydrogen, but its mixture with the oxygen of
the atmosphere. All one has to do is to insert in the balloon model a
little tube to furnish a jet of the room's atmosphere from an air pump
and light it with the electric spark. Similarly, should a pin-prick have
made ever so slight a vent in my air-ship balloon, the interior pressure
would have sent out into the atmosphere a long thin stream of hydrogen
that _might_ have ignited had there been any flame near enough to do it.
But there was none.

This was the problem. My motor did undoubtedly send out flames for,
say, half-a-yard round about it. They were, however, mere flames, not
still-burning products of incomplete combustion like the sparks of a
coal-burning steam-engine. This admitted, how was the fact that I had a
mass of hydrogen unmixed with air and well secured in a tight envelope
so high above the motor to prove dangerous?

Turning the matter over and over in my mind I could see but one
dangerous possibility from fire. This was the possibility of the
petroleum reservoir itself taking fire by a _retour de flamme_ from the
motor. During five years, I may here say in passing, I enjoyed complete
immunity from the _retour de flamme_ (sucking back of the flame). Then,
in the same week in which Mr Vanderbilt burned himself so severely, 6th
July 1903, the same accident overtook me in my little "No. 9" runabout
air-ship just as I was crossing the Seine to land on the Ile de Puteaux.
I promptly extinguished the flame with my Panama hat ... without other
incident.

[Illustration: "No. 9" CATCHES FIRE OVER THE ILE DE PUTEAUX]

For reasons like these I went up on my first air-ship trip without
fear of fire, but not without doubt of a possible explosion due to
insufficient working of my balloon's escape valves. Should such a "cold"
explosion occur, the flame-spitting motor would probably ignite the mass
of mixed hydrogen and air that would surround me; but it would have no
decisive influence on the result. The "cold" explosion itself would
doubtless be sufficient....

Now, after five years of experience, and in spite of the _retour de
flamme_ above the Ile de Puteaux, I continue to regard the danger from
fire as practically _nil_; but the possibility of a "cold" explosion
remains always with me, and I must continue to purchase immunity from
it at the cost of vigilant attention to my gas escape valves. Indeed,
the possibility of the thing is greater technically now than in the
early days which I describe. My first air-ship was not built for
speed--consequently, it needed very little interior pressure to
preserve the shape of its balloon. Now that I have great speed, as in
my "No. 7," I must have enormous interior pressure to withstand the
exterior pressure of the atmosphere in front of the balloon as I drive
against it.



CHAPTER X

I GO IN FOR AIRSHIP BUILDING


In the early spring of 1899 I built another air-ship, which the Paris
public at once called "The Santos-Dumont No. 2." It had the same length
and, at first sight, the same form as the "No. 1"; but its greater
diameter brought its volume up to 200 cubic metres--over 7000 cubic
feet--and gave me 20 kilogrammes (44 lbs.) more ascensional force. I
had taken account of the insufficiency of the air pump that had all but
killed me, and had added a little aluminium ventilator to make sure of
permanency in the form of the balloon.

[Illustration: ACCIDENT TO "No. 2," MAY 11, 1899

(FIRST PHASE)]

This ventilator was a rotary fan, worked by the motor, to send air into
the little interior air balloon, which was sewed inside to the bottom of
the great balloon like a kind of closed pocket. In Fig. 5, _G_ is the
great balloon filled with hydrogen gas, _A_ the interior air balloon,
_VV_ the automatic gas valves, _AV_ the latter's air valve, and _TV_
the tube by which the rotary ventilator fed the interior air balloon.

[Illustration: Fig. 5]

The air valve _AV_ was an exhaust valve similar to the two gas valves
_VV_ in the great balloon, with the one exception that it was weaker.
In this way, when there happened to be too much fluid (_i.e._ gas or
air, or both) distending the great balloon, all the air would leave the
interior balloon before any of the gas would leave the great balloon.

The first trial of my "No. 2" was set for 11th May 1899. Unfortunately,
the weather, which had been fine in the morning, grew steadily rainy in
the afternoon. In those days I had no balloon house of my own. All the
morning the balloon had been slowly filling with hydrogen gas at the
captive balloon station of the Jardin d'Acclimatation. As there was no
shed there for me the work had to be done in the open, and it was done
vexatiously, with a hundred delays, surprises, and excuses.

When the rain came on, it wetted the balloon. What was to be done? I
must either empty it and lose the hydrogen and all my time and trouble,
or go on under the disadvantage of a rain-soaked balloon envelope,
heavier than it ought to be.

I chose to go up in the rain. No sooner had I risen than the weather
caused a great contraction of the hydrogen, so that the long cylindrical
balloon shrunk visibly. Then before the air pump could remedy the fault,
a strong wind gust of the rainstorm doubled it up worse than the "No.
1," and tossed it into the neighbouring trees.

My friends began at me again, saying:

"This time you have learned your lesson. You must understand that it is
impossible to keep the shape of your cylindrical balloon rigid. You must
not again risk your life by taking a petroleum motor up beneath it."

I said to myself:

"What has the rigidity of the balloon's form to do with danger from a
petroleum motor? Errors do not count. I have learned my lesson, but it
is not that lesson."

[Illustration: ACCIDENT TO "No. 2," MAY 11, 1899

(SECOND PHASE)]

Accordingly I immediately set to work on a "No. 3," with a shorter and
very much thicker balloon, 20 metres (66 feet) long and 7·50 metres
(25 feet) at its greatest diameter (Fig. 6). Its much greater gas
capacity--500 cubic metres (17,650 cubic feet)--would give it, with
hydrogen, three times the lifting power of my first, and twice that
of my second air-ship. This permitted me to use common illuminating
gas, whose lifting power is about half that of hydrogen. The hydrogen
plant of the Jardin d'Acclimatation had always served me badly. With
illuminating gas I should be free to start from the establishment of my
balloon constructor or elsewhere as I desired.

[Illustration: Fig. 6]

It will be seen that I was getting far away from the cylindrical shapes
of my first two balloons. In the future I told myself that I would at
least avoid doubling up. The rounder form of this balloon also made it
possible to dispense with the interior air balloon and its feeding air
pump that had twice refused to work adequately at the critical moment.
Should this shorter and thicker balloon need aid to keep its form rigid
I relied on the stiffening effect of a 10-metre (33-foot) bamboo pole
(Fig. 6) fixed lengthwise to the suspension cords above my head and
directly beneath the balloon.

While not yet a true keel, this pole keel supported basket and guide
rope and brought my shifting weights into much more effectual play.

On November 13th, 1899, I started in the "Santos-Dumont No. 3," from the
establishment of Vaugirard, on the most successful flight that I had yet
made.

[Illustration: ACCIDENT TO "No. 2," MAY 11, 1899

(THIRD PHASE)]

From Vaugirard I went directly to the Champ de Mars, which I had
chosen for its clear, open space. There I was able to practise aerial
navigation to my heart's content--circling, driving ahead in straight
courses, forcing the air-ship diagonally onward and upward, and shooting
diagonally downward, by propeller force, and thus acquiring mastery of
my shifting weights. These, because of the greater distance they were
now set apart at the extremities of the pole keel (Fig. 6), worked with
an effectiveness that astonished even myself. This proved my greatest
triumph, for it was already clear to me that the central truth of
dirigible ballooning must be ever: "To descend without sacrificing gas
and to mount without sacrificing ballast."

During these first evolutions over the Champ de Mars I had no particular
thought of the Eiffel Tower. At most it seemed a monument worth going
round, and so I circled round it at a prudent distance again and again.
Then--still without any dream of what the future had in store for me--I
made a straight course for the Parc des Princes, _over almost the exact
line that, two years later, was to mark the Deutsch prize route_.

I steered to the Parc des Princes because it was another fine open
space. Once there, however, I was loth to descend, so, making a hook, I
navigated to the manoeuvre grounds of Bagatelle, where I finally landed,
in souvenir of my fall of the year previous. It was almost at the exact
spot where the kite-flying boys had pulled on my guide rope and saved me
from a bad shaking-up. At this time, remember, neither the Aéro Club nor
myself possessed a balloon park or shed from which to start and to which
to return.

On this trip I considered that had the air been calm my speed in
relation to the ground would have been as much as 25 kilometres (15
miles) per hour. In other words, I went at that rate through the air,
the wind being strong though not violent. Therefore, even had not
sentimental reasons led me to land at Bagatelle, I should have hesitated
to return _with the wind_ to the Vaugirard balloon house--itself of
small size, and difficult of access, and surrounded by all the houses
of a busy quarter. Landing in Paris, in general, is dangerous for any
kind of balloon, amid chimney-pots that threaten to pierce its belly,
and tiles that are always ready to be knocked down on the heads of
passers-by. When in the future air-ships become as common as automobiles
are at present, spacious public and private landing-stages will have to
be built for them in every part of the capital. Already they have been
foretold by Mr Wells in his strange book, "When the Sleeper Wakes."

[Illustration: ACCIDENT TO "No. 2," MAY 11, 1899

(FINALE)]

Considerations of this order made it desirable for me to have a plant
of my own. I needed a building for the housing of my air-ship between
trips. Heretofore I had emptied the balloon of all its gas at the end
of each trip, as one is bound to do with spherical balloons. Now I saw
very different possibilities for dirigibles. The significant thing
was the fact that my "No. 3" had lost so little gas (or, perhaps, none
at all) at the end of its first long trip that I could well have housed
it overnight and gone out again in it the next day.

I had no longer the slightest doubt of the success of my invention. I
foresaw that I was going into air-ship construction as a sort of life
work. I should need my own workshop, my own balloon house, hydrogen
plant, and connection with the illuminating gas mains.

The Aéro Club had just acquired some land on the newly-opened Côteaux
de Longchamps at St Cloud, and I concluded to build on it a great
shed, long and high enough to house my air-ship with its balloon fully
inflated, and furnished with all the facilities mentioned.

This aerodrome, which I built at my own expense, was 30 metres long
(100 feet), 7 metres (25 feet) wide, and 11 metres (36 feet) high. Even
here I had to contend with the conceit and prejudice of artisans which
had already given me so much trouble at the Jardin d'Acclimatation. It
was declared that the sliding doors of my aerodrome could not be made
to slide on account of their great size. I had to insist. "Follow
my directions," I said, "and do not concern yourselves with their
practicability!" Although the men had named their own pay, it was a long
time before I could get the better of this vainglorious stubbornness of
theirs. When finished the doors worked, naturally. Three years later the
aerodrome built for me by the Prince of Monaco on my plans had still
greater sliding doors.

While this first of my balloon houses was under construction, I made a
number of other successful trips in the "No. 3," the last time losing my
rudder and luckily landing on the plain at Ivry. I did not repair the
"No. 3." Its balloon was too clumsy in form and its motor was too weak.
I had now my own aerodrome and gas plant. I would build a new air-ship,
and with it I would be able to experiment for longer periods and with
more method.

[Illustration: START OF "No. 3," NOVEMBER 13, 1899]



CHAPTER XI

THE EXPOSITION SUMMER


The Exposition of 1900, with its learned congresses, was now
approaching. Its International Congress of Aeronautics being set for the
month of September I resolved that the new air-ship should be ready to
be shown to it.

This was my "No. 4," finished 1st August 1900, and by far the most
familiar to the world at large of all my air-ships. This is due to the
fact that when I won the Deutsch prize, nearly eighteen months later and
in quite a different construction, the newspapers of the world came out
with old cuts of this "No. 4," which they had kept on file.

It was the air-ship with the bicycle saddle. In it the 10-metre
(33-foot) bamboo pole of my "No. 3" came nearer to being a real keel
in that it no longer hung above my head, but, amplified by vertical
and horizontal cross pieces and a system of tightly-stretched cords,
sustained within itself motor, propeller, and connecting machinery,
petroleum reservoir, ballast, and navigator in a kind of spider web
without a basket (see photograph, page 135).

I was obliged to sit in the midst of the spider web below the balloon
on the saddle of a bicycle frame which I had incorporated into it.
Thus the absence of the traditional balloon basket appeared to leave
me astride a pole in the midst of a confusion of ropes, tubes, and
machinery. Nevertheless, the device was very handy, because round this
bicycle frame I had united cords for controlling the shifting weights,
for striking the motor's electric spark, for opening and shutting the
balloon's valves, for turning on and off the water-ballast spigots
and certain other functions of the air-ship. Under my feet I had the
starting pedals of a new 7 horse-power petroleum motor, driving a
propeller with two wings 4 metres (13 feet) across each. They were of
silk, stretched over steel plates, and very strong. For steering, my
hands reposed on the bicycle handle-bars connected with my rudder.

[Illustration: "SANTOS-DUMONT No. 4"]

Above all this there stretched the balloon, 39 metres (129 feet) long,
with a middle diameter of 5·10 metres (17 feet) and a gas capacity of
420 cubic metres (nearly 15,000 cubic feet). In form it was a compromise
between the slender cylinders of my first constructions and the clumsy
compactness of the "No. 3." (See Fig. 7.) For this reason I thought it
prudent to give it an interior compensating air balloon fed by a rotary
ventilator like that of the "No. 2," and as the balloon was smaller
than its predecessor I was obliged to return again to hydrogen to get
sufficient lifting power. For that matter, there was no longer any
reason why I should not employ hydrogen. I now had my own hydrogen gas
generator, and my "No. 4," safely housed in the aerodrome, might be kept
inflated during weeks.

[Illustration: Fig. 7]

In the "Santos-Dumont, No. 4," I also tried the experiment of placing
the propeller at the stem instead of the stern of the air-ship. So,
attached to the pole keel in front, the screw pulled, instead of
pushing it through the air. The new 7 horse-power motor with two
cylinders turned it with a velocity of 100 revolutions per minute, and
produced, from a fixed point, a traction effort of some 30 kilogrammes
(66 lbs.).

The pole keel with its cross pieces, bicycle frame, and mechanism
weighed heavy. Therefore, although the balloon was filled with hydrogen,
I could not take up more than 50 kilogrammes (110 lbs.) of ballast.

I made almost daily experiments with this new air-ship during August
and September 1900 at the Aéro Club's grounds at St Cloud, but my most
memorable trial with it took place on 19th September in presence of
the members of the International Congress of Aeronautics. Although an
accident to my rudder at the last moment prevented me from making a free
ascent before these men of science I, nevertheless, held my own against
a very strong wind that was blowing at the time, and gave what they were
good enough to proclaim a satisfying demonstration of the effectiveness
of an aerial propeller driven by a petroleum motor.

[Illustration: MOTOR OF "No. 4"]

A distinguished member of the Congress, Professor Langley, desired to be
present a few days later at one of my usual trials, and from him I
received the heartiest kind of encouragement.

The result of these trials was, nevertheless, to decide me to double
the propeller's power by the adoption of the four-cylinder type of
petroleum motor without water jacket--that is to say, the system of
cooling _à ailettes_. The new motor was delivered to me very promptly,
and I immediately set about adapting the air-ship to it. Its extra
weight demanded either that I should construct a new balloon or else
enlarge the old one. I tried the latter course. Cutting the balloon in
half I had a piece put in it, as one puts a leaf in an extension table.
This brought the balloon's length to 33 metres (109 feet). Then I found
that the aerodrome was too short by 3 metres (10 feet) to receive it. In
prevision of future needs I added 4 metres (13 feet) to its length.

Motor, balloon, and shed were all transformed in fifteen days. The
Exposition was still open, but the autumn rains had set in. After
waiting, with the balloon filled with hydrogen, through two weeks of the
worst possible weather I let out the gas and began experimenting with
the motor and propeller. It was not lost time, for, bringing the speed
of the propeller up to 140 revolutions per minute, I realised, from a
fixed point, a traction effort of 55 kilogrammes (120 lbs.). Indeed, the
propeller turned with such force that I took pneumonia in its current of
cold air.

I betook myself to Nice for the pneumonia, and there, while
convalescing, an idea came to me.

This new idea took the form of my first true air-ship keel.

In a small carpenter shop at Nice I worked it out with my own hands--a
long, triangular-sectioned pine framework of great lightness and
rigidity. Though 18 metres (59-1/2 feet) in length it weighed only 41
kilogrammes (90 lbs.). Its joints were in aluminium, and, to secure its
lightness and rigidity, to cause it to offer less resistance to the air
and make it less subject to hygrometric variations, it occurred to me to
reinforce it with tightly-drawn piano wires instead of cords.

[Illustration: VISIT OF PROFESSOR LANGLEY]

Then what turned out to be an utterly new idea in aeronautics followed.
I asked myself why I should not use this same piano wire for all my
dirigible balloon suspensions in place of the cords and ropes used in
all kinds of balloons up to this time. I did it, and the innovation
turned out to be peculiarly valuable. These piano wires, 8/10ths of
a millimetre (0·032 inch) in diameter, possess a high coefficient of
rupture and a surface so slight that their substitution for the ordinary
cord suspensions constitutes a greater progress than many a more showy
device. Indeed, it has been calculated that the cord suspensions offered
almost as much resistance to the air as did the balloon itself.

[Illustration: "No. 4." FLIGHT BEFORE PROFESSOR LANGLEY]

At the stern of this air-ship keel I again established my propeller.
I had found no advantage result from placing it in front of the "No.
4," where it was an actual hindrance to the free working of the guide
rope. The propeller was now driven by a new 12 horse-power four-cylinder
motor without water jacket, through the intermediary of a long, hollow
steel shaft. Placing this motor in the centre of the keel I balanced its
weight by taking my position in my basket well to the front, while the
guide rope hung suspended from a point still farther forward (Fig. 8).
To it, some distance down its length, I fastened the end of a lighter
cord run up to a pulley fixed in the after part of the keel, and thence
to my basket, where I fastened it convenient to my hand. Thus I made the
guide rope do the work of shifting weights. Imagine, for example, that
going on a straight horizontal course (as in Fig. 8) I should desire to
rise. I would have but to pull in the guide rope shifter. It would pull
the guide rope itself back (Fig. 9), and thus shift back the centre of
gravity of the whole system that much. The stem of the air-ship would
rise (as in Fig. 9), and, consequently, my propeller force would push me
up along the new diagonal line.

[Illustration: Fig. 8]

The rudder was fixed at the stern as usual, and water-ballast cylinders,
accessory shifting weights, petroleum reservoir, and the other parts
of the machinery, were disposed in the new keel, well balanced. For
the first time in these experiments, as well as the first time in
aeronautics, I used liquid ballast. Two brass reservoirs, very thin,
and holding altogether 54 litres (12 gallons), were filled with water
and fixed in the keel, as above stated, between motor and propeller, and
their two spigots were so arranged that they could be opened and shut
from my basket by means of two steel wires.

[Illustration: Fig. 9]

Before this new keel was fitted to the enlarged balloon of my "No. 5,"
and in acknowledgment of the work I had done in 1900, the Scientific
Commission of the Paris Aéro Club had awarded me its Encouragement
prize, founded by M. Deutsch (de la Meurthe), and consisting of the
yearly interest on 100,000 francs. To induce others to follow up the
difficult and expensive problem of dirigible ballooning I left this 4000
francs at the disposition of the Aéro Club to found a new prize. I made
the conditions of winning it very simple:

"The Santos-Dumont prize shall be awarded to the aeronaut, a member of
the Paris Aéro Club, and not the founder of this prize, who between
1st May and 1st October 1901, starting from the Parc d'Aerostation
of St Cloud, shall turn round the Eiffel Tower and come back to the
starting-point, at the end of whatever time, without having touched
ground, and by his self-contained means on board alone.

"If the Santos-Dumont prize is not won in 1901 it shall remain open the
following year, always from 1st May to 1st October, and so on, until it
be won."

The Aéro Club signified the importance of such a trial by deciding
to give its highest reward, a gold medal, to the winner of the
Santos-Dumont prize, as may be seen by its minutes of the time. Since
then the 4000 francs have remained in the treasury of the Club.

[Illustration: "SANTOS-DUMONT No. 5"]



CHAPTER XII

THE DEUTSCH PRIZE AND ITS PROBLEMS


This brings me to the Deutsch prize of aerial navigation, offered in the
spring of 1900, while I was navigating my "No. 3," and after I had on at
least one occasion--all unknowing--steered over what was to be its exact
course from the Eiffel Tower to the Seine at Bagatelle (see page 127).

This prize of 100,000 francs, founded by M. Deutsch (de la Meurthe),
a member of the Paris Aéro Club, was to be awarded by the Scientific
Commission of that organisation to the first dirigible balloon or
air-ship that between 1st May and 1st October 1900, 1901, 1902, 1903,
and 1904 should rise from the Parc d'Aerostation of the Aéro Club at St
Cloud and, without touching ground and by its own self-contained means
on board alone, describe a closed curve in such a way that the axis
of the Eiffel Tower should be within the interior of the circuit, and
return to the point of departure in the maximum time of half-an-hour.
Should more than one accomplish the task in the same year the 100,000
francs were to be divided in proportion to the respective times.

The Aéro Club's Scientific Commission had been named expressly for the
purpose of formulating these and such other conditions of the foundation
as it might deem proper, and by reason of certain of them I had made no
attempt to win the prize with my "Santos-Dumont, No. 4." The course from
the Aéro Club's Parc d'Aerostation to the Eiffel Tower and return was 11
kilometres (nearly 7 miles), and this distance, _plus the turning round
the Tower_, must be accomplished in thirty minutes. This meant in a
perfect calm a necessary speed of 25 kilometres (15-1/2 miles) per hour
for the straight stretches--a speed I could not be sure to maintain all
the way in my "No. 4."

Another condition formulated by the Scientific Commission was that its
members, who were to be the judges of all trials, must be notified
twenty-four hours in advance of each attempt. Naturally, the operation
of such a condition would be to nullify as much as possible all minute
time calculations based either on a given rate of speed through perfect
calm or such air current as might be prevailing twenty-four hours
previous to the hour of trial. Though Paris is situated in a basin,
surrounded on all sides by hills, its air currents are peculiarly
variable, and brusque meteorological changes are extremely common.

I foresaw also that when a competitor had once committed the formal act
of assembling a Scientific Commission on a slope of the River Seine
so far away from Paris as St Cloud he would be under a kind of moral
pressure to go on with his trial, no matter how the air currents might
have increased, and no matter in what kind of weather--wet, dry, or
simply humid--he might find himself.

Again, this moral pressure to go on with the trial against the
aeronaut's better judgment must extend even to the event of an unlucky
change in the state of the air-ship itself. One does not convoke a body
of prominent personages to a distant riverside for nothing, yet in the
twenty-four hours between notification and trial even a well-watched
elongated balloon might well lose a little of its tautness unperceived.
A previous day's preliminary trial might easily derange so uncertain
an engine as the petroleum motor of the year 1900. And, finally, I saw
that the competitor would be barred by common courtesy from convoking
the Commission at the very hour most favourable for dirigible balloon
experiments over Paris--the calm of the dawn. The duellist may call out
his friends at that sacred hour, but not the air-ship captain.

In founding the Santos-Dumont prize with the 4000 francs awarded to me
by the Aéro Club for my work in the year 1900 it will be observed that
I made no such conditions by the way. I did not wish to complicate the
trial by imposing a minimum velocity, the check of a special committee,
or any limitation of time of trial during the day. I was sure that even
under the widest conditions it would be a great deal to come back to
the starting-point after having reached a post publicly pointed out in
advance--a thing that was unheard of before the year 1901.

The conditions of the Santos-Dumont prize, therefore, left competitors
free to choose the state of the air least unfavourable to them, as the
calm of late evening or early morning. Nor would I inflict on them
the possible surprises of a period of waiting between the convocation
and the meeting of a Scientific Commission, itself in my eyes quite
unnecessary in these days, when the army of newspaper reporters of a
great capital is always ready to mobilise without notice, at any hour
and spot, on the bare prospect of news. The newspaper men of Paris would
be my Scientific Commission.

[Illustration: "No. 5." LEAVING AËRO CLUB GROUNDS, JULY 12, 1901]

As I had excluded myself from trying for the Santos-Dumont prize I
naturally wished to show that it would not be impossible to fulfil its
conditions. My "No. 5"--composed of the enlarged balloon of the "No. 4"
and the new keel, motor, and propeller already described--was now ready
for trial. In it, on the first attempt, I fulfilled the conditions of my
own prize foundation.

This was on July 12th, 1901, after a practice flight the day before.
At 4.30 A.M. I steered my air-ship from the park of the Aéro Club at
St Cloud to the Longchamps racecourse. I did not at that moment take
time to ask permission of the Jockey Club, which, however, a few days
later placed that admirable open space at my disposition. Ten times in
succession I made the circuit of Longchamps, stopping each time at a
point designed beforehand.

After these first evolutions, which altogether made up a distance of
about 35 kilometres (22 miles), I set out for Puteaux, and after an
excursion of about 3 kilometres (2 miles), done in nine minutes, I
steered back again to Longchamps.

I was by this time so well satisfied with the dirigibility of my "No.
5" that I began looking for the Eiffel Tower. It had disappeared in
the mists of the morning, but its direction was well known to me, so I
steered for it as well as I might.

In ten minutes I had come within 200 metres (40 rods) of the Champ
de Mars. At this moment one of the cords managing my rudder broke.
It was absolutely necessary to repair it at once, and to repair it I
must descend to earth. With perfect ease I pulled forward the guide
rope, shifted my centre of gravity, and drove the air-ship diagonally
downward, landing gently in the Trocadero Gardens. Good-natured workmen
ran to me from all directions.

Did I need anything? they asked.

Yes; I needed a ladder. And in less time than it takes to write it a
ladder was found and placed in position. While two of these discreet and
intelligent volunteers held it I climbed some twenty rounds to its top,
and was able to repair the damaged rudder connection.

[Illustration: "No. 5." RETURNING FROM THE EIFFEL TOWER]

I started off again, mounting diagonally to my chosen altitude, turned
the Eiffel Tower in a wide curve, and returned to Longchamps in a
straight course without further incident after a trip which, including
the stop for repairs, had lasted one hour and six minutes. Then after
a few minutes' conversation I took my flight back to the St Cloud
Aerodrome, passing the Seine at an altitude of 200 metres (over 600
feet), and housing the still perfectly-inflated air-ship in its shed as
though it were a simple automobile.



CHAPTER XIII

A FALL BEFORE A RISE


My "No. 5" had proved itself so much more powerful than its predecessors
that I now found courage to inscribe myself for the Deutsch prize
competition.

Having taken this decisive step I at once convoked the Scientific
Commission of the Aéro Club for a trial in accordance with the
regulations.

The Commission assembled in the grounds of the Aéro Club at St Cloud on
July 13th, 1901 at 6.30 A.M. At 6.41 I started off. I turned the Eiffel
Tower in the tenth minute and came back against an unexpected head wind,
reaching the timekeepers at St Cloud in the fortieth minute, at an
altitude of 200 metres, and after a terrific struggle with the element.

[Illustration: "No. 5." ACCIDENT IN THE PARK OF M. EDMOND DE ROTHSCHILD]

Just at this moment my capricious motor stopped, and the air-ship,
bereft of its power, was carried off, and fell on the tallest
chestnut-tree in the park of M. Edmond de Rothschild. The inhabitants
and servants of the villa, who came running, very naturally imagined
that the air-ship must be wrecked and myself probably hurt. They were
astonished to find me standing in my basket high up in the tree, while
the propeller touched the ground. Considering the force with which the
wind had blown when I was battling with it on the home stretch I was
myself surprised to note how little the balloon was torn. Nevertheless,
all its gas had left it.

This happened very near the house of the Princess Isabel, Comtesse d'Eu,
who, hearing of my plight, and learning that I must be occupied some
time in disengaging the air-ship, sent a lunch to me up in my tree, with
an invitation to come and tell her the story of my trip. When the story
was finished the daughter of Dom Pedro said to me:

"Your evolutions in the air make me think of the flight of our great
birds of Brazil. I hope you will do as well with your propeller as they
do with their wings, and that you will succeed for the glory of our
common country."

A few days later I received the following letter:--

    "_1st August 1901._

    "MONSIEUR SANTOS-DUMONT,--Here is a medal of St Benedict
    that protects against accidents.

    "Accept it, and wear it at your watch-chain, in your
    card-case, or at your neck.

    "I send it to you, thinking of your good mother, and praying
    God to help you always and to make you work for the glory of our
    country.

    (Signed) "ISABEL, COMTESSE D'EU."

As the newspapers have often spoken of my "bracelet" I may say that the
thin gold chain of which it consists is simply the means I have taken to
wear this medal, which I prize.

[Illustration: AN ACCIDENT]

The air-ship, as a whole, was damaged very little, considering the force
of the wind and the nature of the accident. When it was ready to be
taken out again I nevertheless thought it prudent to make several trials
with it over the grassy lawn of the Longchamps racecourse. One of these
trials I will mention, because it gave me--something rare--a fairly
accurate idea of the air-ship's speed in perfect calm. On this occasion
Mr Maurice Farman followed me round the racecourse in his automobile at
its second speed. His estimate was between 26 and 30 kilometres (16
and 18-1/2 miles) per hour with my guide rope dragging. Of course, when
the guide rope drags it acts exactly like a brake. How much it holds one
back depends upon the length that actually drags along the ground. Our
calculation at the time was about 5 kilometres (3 miles) per hour, which
would have brought my proper speed up to between 30 and 35 kilometres
(18-1/2 and 21-1/2 miles) per hour. All this encouraged me to make
another trial for the Deutsch prize.

And now I come to a terrible day--8th August 1901. At 6.30 A.M., in
presence of the Scientific Commission of the Aéro Club, I started again
for the Eiffel Tower.

I turned the Tower at the end of nine minutes and took my way back to
St Cloud; but my balloon was losing hydrogen through one of its two
automatic gas valves, whose spring had been accidentally weakened.

I had perceived the beginning of this loss of gas even before reaching
the Eiffel Tower, and ordinarily, in such an event, I should have come
at once to earth to examine the lesion. But here I was competing for a
prize of great honour, and my speed had been good. Therefore I risked
going on.

The balloon now shrunk visibly. By the time I had got back to the
fortifications of Paris, near La Muette, it caused the suspension wires
to sag so much that those nearest to the screw propeller caught in it as
it revolved.

I saw the propeller cutting and tearing at the wires. I stopped the
motor instantly. Then, as a consequence, the air-ship was at once driven
back toward the Tower by the wind, which was strong.

At the same time I was falling. The balloon had lost much gas. I might
have thrown out ballast and greatly diminished the fall, but then the
wind would have time to blow me back on the Eiffel Tower. I, therefore,
preferred to let the air-ship go down as it was going. It may have
seemed a terrific fall to those who watched it from the ground, but
to me the worst detail was the air-ship's lack of equilibrium. The
half-empty balloon, fluttering its empty end as an elephant waves his
trunk, caused the air-ship's stem to point upward at an alarming angle.
What I most feared, therefore, was that the unequal strain on the
suspension wires would break them one by one and so precipitate me to
the ground.

Why was the balloon fluttering an empty end and causing all this extra
danger? How was it that the rotary ventilator was not fulfilling its
purpose in feeding the interior air balloon and in this manner swelling
out the gas balloon around it? The answer must be looked for in the
nature of the accident. The rotary ventilator stopped working when
the motor itself stopped, and I had been obliged to stop the motor to
prevent the propeller from tearing the suspension wires near it when
the balloon first began to sag from loss of gas. It is true that the
ventilator, which was working at that moment, had not proved sufficient
to prevent the first sagging. It may have been that the interior air
balloon refused to fill out properly. The day after the accident, when
my balloon constructor's man came to me for the plans of a "No. 6"
balloon envelope, I gathered from something he said that the interior
air balloon of the "No. 5," not having been given time for its varnish
to dry before being adjusted, might have stuck together or stuck to the
sides or bottom of the outer balloon. Such are the rewards of haste.

I was falling. At the same time the wind was carrying me toward the
Eiffel Tower. It had already carried me so far that I was expecting to
land on the Seine embankment beyond the Trocadero. My basket and the
whole of the keel had already passed the Trocadero hotels, and had my
balloon been a spherical one, it too would have cleared the building.
But now, at the last critical moment, the end of the long balloon
that was still full of gas came slapping down on the roof just before
clearing it. It exploded with a great noise--exactly like a paper bag
struck after being blown up. This was the "terrific explosion" described
in the newspapers of the day.

I had made a mistake in my estimate of the wind's force by a few yards.
Instead of being carried on to fall on the Seine embankment I now found
myself hanging in my wicker basket high up in the courtyard of the
Trocadero hotels, supported by my air-ship's keel, which stood braced
at an angle of about 45 degrees between the courtyard wall above and
the roof of a lower construction farther down. The keel, in spite of my
weight, that of the motor and machinery, and the shock it had received
in falling, resisted wonderfully. The thin pine scantlings and piano
wires of Nice had saved my life!

[Illustration: PHASE OF AN ACCIDENT]

After what seemed tedious waiting I saw a rope being lowered to me
from the roof above. I held to it, and was hauled up, when I perceived
my rescuers to be the brave firemen of Paris. From their station at
Passy they had been watching the flight of the air-ship. They had seen
my fall, and immediately hastened to the spot. Then, having rescued me,
they proceeded to rescue the air-ship.

The operation was painful. The remains of the balloon envelope and the
suspension wires hung lamentably, and it was impossible to disengage
them except in strips and fragments!

So I escaped--and my escape may have been narrow--but it was not from
the particular danger always present in my mind during this period of
trials around the Eiffel Tower. A Parisian journalist said that had the
Eiffel Tower not existed it would have been necessary to invent it for
the needs of aerostation. It is true that the engineers who remain at
its summit have at their hands all necessary instruments for observing
aerial and meteorological conditions: their chronometers are exact;
and, as Professor Langley has said in a communication to the Louisiana
Purchase Exposition Committee, the position of the Tower as a central
landmark, visible to everyone from considerable distances, made it a
unique winning-post for an aerial contest. I myself had circled round
it at a respectful distance, of my own free will, in 1899, before the
stipulation of the Deutsch prize competition was dreamed of. Yet none of
these considerations altered the other fact that the necessity to round
the Eiffel Tower attached a unique element of danger to the task.

What I feared was that in my eagerness to make a quick turning, by some
error in steering or by the influence of some unexpected side wind, I
might be dashed against the Tower. The impact would certainly burst my
balloon, and I should fall to the ground like a stone. Nor could the
utmost prudence and self-control in making a wide turn guarantee me
against the danger. Should my capricious motor stop as I approached the
Tower--exactly as it stopped after I had passed over the timekeepers'
heads at St Cloud, returning from my first trial on 13th July 1903--I
should be powerless to hold the air-ship back.

Therefore I always dreaded the turn round the Eiffel Tower, looking
on it as my principal danger. While never seeking to go high in my
air-ships--on the contrary, I hold the record for the low altitudes in
a free balloon--in passing over Paris I must necessarily move above and
out of the way of the chimney-pots and steeples. The Eiffel Tower was my
one danger, yet it was my winning-post!

Such were my fears while on the ground; while in the air I had no time
for fear. I have always kept a cool head. Alone in the air-ship I am
always busy, for there is more than enough work for one man. Like the
captain of a yacht, I must not let go the rudder for an instant. Like
its chief engineer, I must watch the motor. The balloon's rigidity of
form must be preserved. And with this capital detail is connected the
whole complex problem of the air-ship's altitude, the manoeuvring of
guide rope and shifting weights, the economising of ballast, and the
surveillance of the air pump attached to the motor. Besides all this
occupation there is also the strong joy of commanding rapid movement.
The pleasurable sensations of aerial navigation experienced in my first
air-ships were intensified in the powerful "No. 5." As M. Jaurès has
well put it, I now felt myself a man in the air, commanding movement. In
my spherical balloons I had felt myself to be only the shadow of a man!



CHAPTER XIV

THE BUILDING OF MY "NO. 6"


On the very evening of my fall to the roof of the Trocadero hotels I
gave out the specifications of a "Santos-Dumont, No. 6," and after
twenty-two days of continuous labour it was finished and inflated.

[Illustration: Fig. 10]

The new balloon had the shape of an elongated ellipsoid (Fig. 10), 33
metres (110 feet) by its great axis and 6 metres (20 feet) by its small
axis, terminated fore and aft by cones.

[Illustration: "No. 6." FIRST TRIP]

I now gave more care than ever to the devices on which I depended
to maintain the balloon's rigidity of form. I had fallen to the
roof of the Trocadero hotels by the fault of the smallest and most
insignificant-looking piece of mechanism of the entire system--a
weakened valve that let out the balloon's hydrogen. In very much the
same way the fall of the first of all my air-ships had been occasioned
by the failure of a little air-pump.

In all my constructions, except the big-bellied balloon of the "No.
3," I had depended much on the interior compensating air balloon
(Fig. 5, page 119) fed by air pump or rotary ventilator. Sewed like a
closed patch pocket to the inside bottom of the great balloon, this
compensating air balloon would remain flat and empty so long as the
great balloon remained distended with its gas. Then, as hydrogen might
be condensed from time to time by changes of altitude and temperature,
the air pump or ventilator worked by the motor would begin to fill the
compensating air balloon, make it take up more room inside the great
balloon, and so keep the latter distended.

Inside the balloon of my "No. 6" I now sewed such a compensating
balloon, capable of holding 60 cubic metres (2118 cubic feet). The
ventilator that was to feed it formed practically a part of the motor
itself. Revolving continually while the motor worked, it would serve air
continually to the compensating balloon whether or not the latter would
be able to hold it. What air it could not hold would escape through a
comparatively weak valve ("Air Valve," Fig. 10) communicating with the
outer atmosphere through the bottom of the air balloon, which was also
the bottom of the great outer balloon.

To relieve the great balloon of its dilated hydrogen when necessary I
supplied it with two of the best valves I could make ("Gas Valves,"
Fig. 10). These also communicated with the outer atmosphere. Imagine,
now, that after a certain condensation of my hydrogen the interior
compensating balloon should have filled up in part with air from the
ventilator and so maintained the form of the great balloon rigid.
Shortly after, by a change of temperature or altitude, the hydrogen
would begin to dilate again. Something would have to give way, or the
balloon would burst in a "cold explosion." What ought to give way first?
Evidently the weaker air valve ("Air Valve," Fig. 10). Letting out
part or all of the air in the interior balloon, it would relieve the
tension of the swelling hydrogen; and only afterwards, should this not
be sufficient, would the stronger gas valves (Fig. 10) let out precious
hydrogen.

All three valves were automatic, opening outward on a given pressure
from within. One of the hypotheses to account for the terrible accident
to the unhappy Severo's dirigible "Pax"[A] is concerned with this
all-important problem of valves. The "Pax," as originally constructed,
had two. M. Severo, who was not a practical aeronaut, stopped up one of
them with wax before starting on his first and last voyage. In view of
the decreasing pressure of the atmosphere as one goes higher the ascent
of a dirigible should always be slow and never great, for gas will
expand on the rise of a few yards. It is quite different from the case
of the spherical balloon, which has no interior pressure to withstand. A
dirigible whose envelope is distended by great pressure depends on its
valves not to burst. With one of its valves stopped with wax the "Pax"
was allowed to shoot up from the earth, and immediately its occupants
seem to have lost their heads. Instead of checking their rapid rise
one of them threw out ballast--a handful of which will send up a great
spherical balloon perceptibly. The mechanician of Severo is said to have
been last seen throwing out a whole bag in his excitement. Up shot the
"Pax" higher and higher, and the expansion, the explosion, and the awful
fall came as a chain of consequences.

    [A] In the early morning of 12th May 1902 M. Augusto Severo,
        accompanied by his mechanician, Sachet, started from Paris
        on a first trial with the "Pax," the invention and
        construction of M. Severo. The "Pax" rose at once to a
        height almost double that of the Eiffel Tower, when, for
        reasons not precisely known, it exploded, and came crashing
        to earth with its two passengers. The fall took eight
        seconds to accomplish, and the luckless experimenters were
        picked up broken and shapeless masses.

The tonnage of my new balloon was 630 cubic metres (22,239 cubic feet),
affording an absolute lifting power of 690 kilogrammes (1518 lbs.),
but the increased weight of the new motor and machinery, nevertheless,
put my disposable ballast at 110 kilogrammes (242 lbs.). It was a
four-cylinder motor of 12 horse-power, cooled automatically by the
circulation of water round the top of the piston (culasse). While the
water cooler brought extra weight, I was glad to have it, for the
arrangement would permit me to utilise, without fear of overheating or
jamming _en route_, the full power of the motor, which was able to
communicate to the propeller a traction effort of 66 kilogrammes (145
lbs.).

[Illustration: AN ACCIDENT TO "No. 6"]

My daily practice with the new air-ship ended, 6th September 1901, in a
slight accident. The balloon was reinflated by 15th September, but four
days later it crashed against a tree in making a too sudden turn. Such
accidents I have always taken philosophically, looking on them as a kind
of insurance against more terrible ones. Were I to give a single word of
caution to all dirigible balloonists, it would be: "Keep close to earth."

The place of the air-ship is not in high altitudes, and it is better to
catch in the tops of trees, as I used to do in the Bois de Boulogne,
than to risk the perils of the upper air without the slightest practical
advantage.



CHAPTER XV

WINNING THE DEUTSCH PRIZE


And now, 19th October 1901, the air-ship "Santos-Dumont No. 6," having
been repaired with great celerity, I tried again for the Deutsch prize
and won it.

On the day before the weather had been wretched. Nevertheless, I had
sent out the necessary telegrams convoking the Commission. Through
the night the weather had improved, but the atmospheric conditions at
2 o'clock in the afternoon--the hour announced for the trial--were,
nevertheless, so unfavourable that of the twenty-five members composing
the Commission only five made their appearance--MM. Deutsch (de la
Meurthe), de Dion, Fonvielle, Besançon, and Aimé.

The Central Meteorological Bureau, consulted at this hour by telephone,
reported a south-east wind blowing 6 metres per second at the altitude
of the Eiffel Tower. When I consider that I was content when my first
air-ship in 1898 had, in the opinion of myself and friends, been going
at the rate of 7 metres per second I am still surprised at the progress
realised in those three years, for I was now setting out to win a race
against a time limit in a wind blowing almost as fast as the highest
speed I had realised in my first air-ship.

[Illustration: SCIENTIFIC COMMISSION OF AËRO CLUB AT THE WINNING OF THE
DEUTSCH PRIZE]

The official start took place at 2.42 P.M. In spite of the wind striking
me sidewise, with a tendency to take me to the left of the Eiffel Tower,
I held my course straight to that goal. Gradually I drove the air-ship
onward and upward to a height of about 10 metres above its summit. In
doing this I lost some time, but secured myself against accidental
contact with the Tower as much as possible.

As I passed the Tower I turned with a sudden movement of the rudder,
bringing the air-ship round the Tower's lightning conductor at a
distance of about 50 metres from it. The Tower was thus turned at 2.51
P.M., the distance of 5-1/2 kilometres, _plus the turning_, being done
in nine minutes.

The return trip was longer, being in the teeth of this same wind. Also,
during the trip to the Tower the motor had worked fairly well. Now,
after I had left it some 500 metres behind me, the motor was actually on
the point of stopping. I had a moment of great uncertainty. I must make
a quick decision. It was to abandon the steering wheel for a moment, at
the risk of drifting from my course, in order to devote my attention to
the carburating lever and the lever controlling the electric spark.

The motor, which had almost stopped, began to work again. I had now
reached the Bois, where, by a phenomenon known to all aeronauts, the
cool air from the trees began making my balloon heavier and heavier--or
in true physics, smaller by condensation. By an unlucky coincidence
the motor at this moment began slowing again. Thus the air-ship was
descending, while its motive power was decreasing.

To correct the descent I had to throw back both guide rope and shifting
weights. This caused the air-ship to point diagonally upward, so that
what propeller-force remained caused it to remount continually in the
air.

[Illustration: "No. 6." MAKING FOR EIFFEL TOWER; ALTITUDE 1000 FEET]

I was now over the crowd of the Auteuil racetrack, already with a sharp
pointing upward. I heard the applause of the mighty throng, when
suddenly my capricious motor started working at full speed again. The
suddenly-accelerated propeller being almost under the high-pointed
air-ship exaggerated the inclination, so that the applause of the crowd
changed to cries of alarm. As for myself, I had no fear, being over the
trees of the Bois, whose soft greenery, as I have already stated, always
reassured me.

All this happened very quickly--before I had a chance to shift my
weights and guide rope back to the normal horizontal positions. I was
now at an altitude of 150 metres. Of course, I might have checked the
diagonal mounting of the air-ship by the simple means of slowing the
motor that was driving it upward; but I was racing against a time limit,
and so I just went on.

I soon righted myself by shifting the guide rope and the weights
forward. I mention this in detail because at the time many of my friends
imagined something terrible was happening. All the same, I did not have
time to bring the air-ship to a lower altitude before reaching the
timekeepers in the Aéro Club's grounds--a thing I might easily have done
by slowing the motor. This is why I passed so high over the judges'
heads.

On my way to the Tower I never looked down on the house-tops of Paris:
I navigated in a sea of white and azure, seeing nothing but the goal. On
the return trip I had kept my eyes fixed on the verdure of the Bois de
Boulogne and the silver streak of river where I had to cross it. Now, at
my high altitude of 150 metres and with the propeller working at full
power, I passed above Longchamps, crossed the Seine, and continued on at
full speed over the heads of the Commission and the spectators gathered
in the Aéro Club's grounds. At that moment it was eleven minutes and
thirty seconds past three o'clock, making the time exactly twenty-nine
minutes and thirty-one seconds.

The air-ship, carried by the impetus of its great speed, passed on as
a racehorse passes the winning-post, as a sailing yacht passes the
winning-line, as a road racing automobile continues flying past the
judges who have snapped its time. Like the jockey of the racehorse, I
then turned and drove myself back to the aerodrome to have my guide rope
caught and be drawn down at twelve minutes forty and four-fifths seconds
past three, or thirty minutes and forty seconds from the start.

I did not yet know my exact time.

I cried: "Have I won?"

And the crowd of spectators cried back to me: "Yes!"

[Illustration: ROUND EIFFEL TOWER]

       *       *       *       *       *

For a while there were those who argued that my time ought to be
calculated up to the moment of my second return to the aerodrome instead
of to the moment when I first passed over it, returning from the Eiffel
Tower. For a while, indeed, it seemed that it might be more difficult
to have the prize awarded to me than it had been to win it. In the end,
however, common-sense prevailed. The money of the prize, amounting in
all to 125,000 francs, I did not desire to keep. I, therefore, divided
it into unequal parts. The greater sum, of 75,000 francs, I handed over
to the Prefect of Police of Paris to be used for the deserving poor. The
balance I distributed among my employees, who had been so long with me
and to whose devotion I was glad to pay this tribute.

At this same time I received another grand prize, as gratifying as it
was unexpected. This was a sum of 100 contos (125,000 francs), voted to
me by the Government of my own country, and accompanied by a gold medal
of large size and great beauty, designed, engraved, and struck off in
Brazil. Its obverse shows my humble self led by Victory and crowned
with laurel by a flying figure of Renown. Above a rising sun there is
engraved the line of Camoëns, altered by one word, as I adopted it to
float on the long streamer of my air-ship: "Por _ceos_ nunca d'antes
navegados!"[B] The reverse bears these words: "Being President of the
Republic of the United States of Brazil, the Doctor Manoel Ferraz de
Campos Salles has given order to engrave and strike this medal in homage
to Alberto Santos-Dumont. 19th October 1901."

    [B] "Through _heavens_ hereto unsailed," instead of

            "_Por mares nunca d'antes navegados_"--
            "O'er _seas_ hereto unsailed."


[Illustration: ROUNDING EIFFEL TOWER]



CHAPTER XVI

A GLANCE BACKWARD AND FORWARD


Just as I had not gone into air-ship constructing for the sake of
winning the Deutsch prize, so now I had no reason to stop experimenting
after I had won it. When I built and navigated my first air-ships
neither Aéro Club nor Deutsch prize were yet in existence. The two, by
their rapid rise and deserved prominence, had brought the problem of
aerial navigation suddenly before the public--so suddenly, indeed, that
I was really not prepared to enter into such a race with a time limit.
Naturally anxious to have the honour of winning such a competition,
I had been forced on rapidly in new constructions at both danger and
expense. Now I would take time to perfect myself systematically as an
aerial navigator.

Suppose you buy a new bicycle or automobile. You will have a perfect
machine to your hand without having had any of the labour, the
deceptions, the false starts and recommencements, of the inventor and
constructor. Yet with all these advantages you will soon find that
possession of the perfected machine does not necessarily mean that you
shall go spinning over the highways with it. You may be so unpractised
that you will fall off the bicycle or blow up the automobile. The
machine is all right, but you must learn to run it.

To bring the modern bicycle to its perfection thousands of amateurs,
inventors, engineers, and constructors laboured during more than
twenty-five years, trying endless innovations, one by one rejecting
the great mass of them, and, after endless failures by the way of half
successes, slowly nearing to the perfect organism.

So it is to-day with the automobile. Imagine the united labours and
financial sacrifices of the engineers and manufacturers that led,
step by step, up to the road-racing automobiles of the Paris-Berlin
competition in 1901--the year in which the only working dirigible
balloon then in existence won the Deutsch prize against a time limit
that was thought by many a complete bar to success. Yet of the 170
perfected automobiles registered for entry to the Paris-Berlin
competition only 109 completed the first day's run, and of these only 26
finally reached Berlin.

[Illustration: RETURNING TO AËRO CLUB GROUNDS ABOVE AQUEDUCT]

Out of 170 automobiles entered for the race only 26 reached the goal.
And of these 26 arriving at Berlin how many do you imagine made the trip
without serious accident? Perhaps none.

It is perfectly natural that this should be so. People think nothing of
it. Such is the natural development of a great invention. But if I break
down while in the air I cannot stop for repairs: I must go on, and the
whole world knows it.

Looking back, therefore, on my progress since the time I doubled up
above the Bagatelle grounds in 1898 I was surprised at the rapid pace at
which I had allowed the notice of the world and my own ardour to push me
on in what was in reality an arbitrary task. At the risk of my neck and
the needless sacrifice of a great deal of money I had won the Deutsch
prize. I might have arrived at the same point of progress by less forced
and more reasonable stages. Throughout I had been inventor, patron,
manufacturer, amateur, mechanician, and air-ship captain all united!
Yet any one of these qualities is thought to bring sufficient work and
credit to the individual in the world of automobiles.

With all these cares I often found myself criticised for choosing calm
days for my experiments. Yet who, experimenting over Paris--as I had to
do when trying for the Deutsch prize--would add to his natural risks
and expenses the vexations of who knows what prosecution for knocking
down the chimney-pots of a great capital on the heads of a population of
pedestrians?

One by one I tried the assurance companies. None would make a rate for
me against the damage I might do on a squally day. None would give me a
rate on my own air-ship to insure it against destruction.

To me it was now clear that what I most needed was navigation practice
pure and simple. I had been increasing the speed of my air-ships--that
is to say, I had been constructing at the expense of my education as an
air-ship captain.

The captain of a steamboat obtains his certificate only after years of
study and experience of navigation in inferior capacities. Even the
"chauffeur" on the public highway must pass his examination before the
authorities will give him his papers.

[Illustration: MEDAL AWARDED BY THE BRAZILIAN GOVERNMENT]

In the air, where all is new, the routine navigation of a dirigible
balloon, requiring for foundation the united experiences of the
spherical balloonist and the automobile "chauffeur," makes demands upon
the lone captain's coolness, ingenuity, quick reasoning, and a kind of
instinct that comes with long habit.

Urged on by these considerations, my great object in the autumn of 1901
was to find a favourable place for practice in aerial navigation.

My swiftest and best air-ship--"The Santos-Dumont No. 6"--was in perfect
condition. The day after winning the Deutsch prize in it my chief
mechanician asked me if he should tighten it up with hydrogen. I told
him yes. Then, seeking to let some more hydrogen into it, he discovered
something curious. The balloon would not take any more! It had not lost
a single cubic unit of hydrogen!

The actual winning of the Deutsch prize had cost only a few litres of
petroleum!

Just as the Paris winter of biting winds, cold rains, and lowering skies
was approaching I received an intimation that the Prince of Monaco,
himself a man of science celebrated for his personal investigations,
would be pleased to build a balloon house directly on the beach of La
Condamine, from which I might dart out on the Mediterranean, and so
continue my aerial practice through the winter.

The situation promised to be ideal. The little bay of Monaco, sheltered
from behind against the wind and cold by mountains, and from the wind
and sea on either side by the heights of Monte Carlo and Monaco town,
would make a well-protected manoeuvre ground.

The air-ship would be always ready, filled with hydrogen gas. It could
slip out of the balloon house to profit by good weather, and back again
for shelter at the approach of squalls. The balloon house would be
erected on the edge of the shore, and the whole Mediterranean would lie
before me for guide-roping.

[Illustration: "No. 9." SHOWING CAPTAIN LEAVING BASKET FOR MOTOR]



CHAPTER XVII

MONACO AND THE MARITIME GUIDE ROPE


When I arrived at Monte Carlo, in the latter part of January 1902, the
balloon house of the Prince of Monaco was already practically completed
from suggestions I had given.

The new aerodrome rose on the Boulevard de la Condamine, just across
the electric tramcar tracks from the sea wall. It was an immense empty
shell of wood and canvas over a stout iron skeleton 55 metres (180 feet)
long, 10 metres (33 feet) wide, and 15 metres (50 feet) high. It had to
be solidly constructed, not to risk the fate of the all-wood aerodrome
of the French Maritime Ballooning Station at Toulon, twice wrecked, and
once all but carried away, like a veritable wooden balloon, by tempests.

In spite of the aerodrome's risky form and curious construction its
sensational features were its doors. Tourists told each other (quite
correctly) that doors so great as these had never been before in
ancient times or modern. They had been made to slide open and shut,
above on wheels hanging from an iron construction that extended from the
façade on each side, and below on wheels that rolled over a rail. Each
door was 15 metres (50 feet) high by 5 metres (16-1/2 feet) wide, and
each weighed 4400 kilogrammes (9680 lbs.). Yet their equilibrium was so
well calculated that on the day of the inauguration of the aerodrome
these giant doors were rolled apart by two little boys of eight and ten
years respectively, the young Princes Ruspoli, grandsons of the Duc de
Dino, my host at Monte Carlo.

While the new situation attracted me by its promise of convenient and
protected winter practice the prospect of doing some oversea navigation
with my air-ship was even more alluring. Even to the spherical
balloonist the oversea problem has great temptations, concerning which
an expert of the French Navy has said:

"The balloon can render the navy immense services, _on condition that
its direction can be assured_.

"Floating over the sea, it can be at once scout and offensive auxiliary
of so delicate a character that the general service of the navy has
not yet allowed itself to pronounce on the matter. We can no longer
conceal it from ourselves, however, that the hour approaches when
balloons, now become military engines, will acquire, from the point of
view of battle results, a great and, perhaps, decisive influence in war."

[Illustration: IN THE BAY OF MONACO]

As for myself, I have never made it any secret that, to my mind,
the first practical use of the air-ship will be found in war, and
the far-seeing Henri Rochefort, who was in the habit of coming to
the aerodrome from his hotel at La Turbie, wrote a most significant
editorial in this sense after I had laid before him the speed
calculations of my "No. 7," then in course of building.

"The day when it shall be established that a man can make his air-ship
travel in a given direction and manoeuvre it at will during the four
hours which the young Santos demands to go from Monaco to Calvi," wrote
Henri Rochefort, "there will remain little more for the nations to do
than to throw down their arms....

"I am astonished that the capital importance of this matter has not yet
been grasped by all the professionals of aerostation. To mount in a
balloon that one has not constructed, and which one is not in a state
to guide, constitutes the easiest of performances. A little cat has done
it at the Folies-Bergère."

Now in war service overland the air-ship will, doubtless, have often to
mount to considerable heights to avoid the rifle fire of the enemy, but,
as the maritime auxiliary described by the expert of the French Navy,
its scouting _rôle_ will for the most part be performed at the end of
its guide rope, comparatively close to the waves, and yet high enough to
take in a wide view. Only when for easily-imagined reasons it is desired
to mount high for a short time will it quit the convenient contact of
its guide rope with the surface of the sea.

For these considerations--and particularly the last--I was anxious to
do a great deal of guide-roping over the Mediterranean. If the maritime
experiment promises so much to spherical ballooning it is doubly
promising to the air-ship, which, from the nature of its construction,
carries comparatively little ballast. This ballast ought not to be
currently sacrificed, as it is by the spherical balloonist, for the
remedying of every little vertical aberration. Its purpose is for use
in great emergencies. Nor ought the aerial navigator, particularly if
he be alone, be forced to rectify his altitude continually by means of
his propeller and shifting weights. He ought to be free to navigate
his air-ship; if on pleasure bent, with ease and leisure to enjoy his
flight; if on war service, with facility for his observations and
hostile manoeuvres. Therefore any _automatic_ guarantee of vertical
stability is peculiarly welcome to him.

You know already what the guide rope is. I have described it in my
first experience of spherical ballooning. Overland, where there are
level plains or roads or even streets, where there are not too many
troublesome trees, buildings, fences, telegraph and trolley poles and
wires and like irregularities, the guide rope is as great an aid to the
air-ship as to the spherical balloon. Indeed, I have made it more so,
for with me it is the central feature of my shifting weights (Figs. 8
and 9, page 148).

Over the uninterrupted stretches of the sea my first Monaco flight
proved it to be a true _stabilisateur_. Its very slight dragging
resistance through the water is out of all proportion to the
considerable weight of its floating extremity. According to its greater
or less immersion, therefore, it ballasts or unballasts the air-ship
(Fig. 11). The balloon is held by the weight of the guide rope down to
a fixed level over the waves without danger of being drawn into contact
with them. For the moment that the air-ship descends the slightest
distance nearer to them that very moment it becomes relieved of just so
much weight, and must naturally rise again by that amount of momentary
unballasting. In this way an incessant little tugging toward and away
from the waves is produced, infinitely gentle, an automatic ballasting
and unballasting of the air-ship without loss of ballast.

[Illustration: Fig. 11]

My first flight over the Mediterranean, which was made on the morning
of 29th January 1902, proved more than this, unfortunately. It was
seen that a miscalculation had been made with respect to the site of
the aerodrome itself. In the navigation of the air, where all is new,
such surprises meet the experimenter at every turn. This ought to be
remembered when one takes account of progress. In the Paris-Madrid
automobile race of 1903 what minute precautions were not taken to
secure the competitors against the perils of quick turnings and grade
crossings? And yet how notably insufficient did they not turn out to be.

As the air-ship was being taken out from its house for its first flight
on the morning of 29th January 1902 the spectators could see that
nothing equivalent to the landing-stages which the air-ships of the
future must have built for them existed in front of the building. The
air-ship, loaded with ballast until it was a trifle heavier than the
surrounding atmosphere, had to be towed, or helped, out of the aerodrome
and across the Boulevard de la Condamine before it could be launched
into the air over the sea wall.

Now that sea wall proved to be a dangerous obstruction. From the side
walk it was only waist high, but on the other side of it the surf
rolled over pebbles from four to five metres below.

The air-ship had to be lifted over the sea wall more than waist high;
also, not to risk damaging the arms of its propeller, and when half
over, there was no one to sustain it from the other side. Its stem
pointed obliquely downward, while its stern threatened to grind on the
wall. Scuffling among the pebbles below, on the sea side, half-a-dozen
workmen held their arms high toward the descending keel as it was let
down and pushed on toward them by the workmen in charge of it on the
boulevard in front of the wall, and they were at last able to catch and
right it only in time to prevent me from being precipitated from the
basket.

[Illustration: FROM THE BALLOON HOUSE OF LA CONDAMINE AT MONACO, FEB.
12, 1902]

For this reason my return to the aerodrome after this first flight
became the occasion of a real triumph, for the crowd promptly took
cognisance of the perils of the situation and foresaw difficulties
for me when I should attempt to re-enter the balloon house. As there
was no wind, however, and as I steered boldly, I was able to make a
sensational entry without damage--and without aid. Straight as a dart
the air-ship sped to the balloon house. The police of the prince had
with difficulty cleared the boulevard between the sea wall and the
wide-open doors. Assistants and supernumeraries leaned over the wall
with outstretched arms waiting for me; below on the beach were others,
but this time I did not need them. I slowed the speed of the propeller
as I came to them. Just as I was half way over the sea wall, well above
them all, I stopped the motor. Carried onward by the dying momentum,
the air-ship glided over their heads on toward the open door. They
had grasped my guide rope to draw me down, but as I had been coming
diagonally there was no need of it. Now they walked beside the air-ship
into the balloon house, as its trainer or the stable-boys grasp the
bridle of their racehorse after the course and lead him back in honour
to the stable with his jockey in the saddle.

It was admitted, nevertheless, that I ought not to be obliged to steer
so closely on returning from my flights--to enter the aerodrome as a
needle is threaded by a steady hand--because a side gust of wind might
catch me at the critical moment and dash me against a tree or lamp-post,
or telegraph or telephone pole, not to speak of the sharp-cornered
buildings on either side of the aerodrome. When I went out again for a
short spin that same afternoon of 29th January 1902 the obstruction of
the sea wall made itself only too evident. The prince offered to tear
down the wall.

"I will not ask you to do so much," I said. "It will be enough to
build a landing-stage on the sea side of the wall at the level of the
boulevard."

This was done after twelve days of work, interrupted by persistent
rain, and the air-ship, when it issued for its third flight, 10th
February 1902, had simply to be lifted a few feet by men on each side
of the wall. They drew it gently on until its whole length floated in
equilibrium over the new platform that extended so far out into the surf
that its farthermost piles were always in six feet of water.

Standing on this platform they steadied the air-ship while its motor
was beings started, while I let out the overplus of water ballast and
shifted my guide rope so as to point for an oblique drive upward. The
motor began spitting and rumbling. The propeller began turning.

"Let go all!" I cried, for the third time at Monaco.

Lightly the air-ship slid along its oblique course, onward and upward.
Then as the propeller gathered force a mighty push sent me flying over
the bay. I shifted forward the guide rope again to make a level course.
And out to sea the air-ship darted, its scarlet pennant fluttering
symbolic letters as upon a streak of flame. They were the initial
letters of the first line of Camoëns' "Lusiad," the epic poet of my race:

        Por mares nunca d'antes navegados!
            (O'er seas hereto unsailed.)



CHAPTER XVIII

FLIGHTS IN MEDITERRANEAN WINDS


In my two previous experiments I had kept fairly within the
wind-protected limits of the bay of Monaco, whose broad expanse afforded
ample room both for guide-roping and practice in steering. Furthermore,
a hundred friends and thousands of friendly spectators stood around it
from the terraces of Monte Carlo to the shore of La Condamine and up the
other side to the heights of Old Monaco. As I circled round and round
the bay, mounted obliquely and swooped down, fetched a straight course,
and then stopped abruptly to turn and begin again, their applause came
up to me agreeably. Now, on my third flight, I steered for the open sea.

Out into the open Mediterranean I sped. The guide rope held me at a
steady altitude of about 50 metres above the waves, as if in some
mysterious way its lower end were attached to them.

In this way, automatically secure of my altitude, I found the work of
aerial navigation become wonderfully easy. There was no ballast to
throw out, no gas to let out, no shifting of the weights except when I
expressly desired to mount or descend. So with my hand upon the rudder
and my eye fixed on the far-off point of Cap Martin I gave myself up to
the pleasure of this voyaging above the waves.

Here in these azure solitudes there were no chimney-pots of Paris, no
cruel, threatening roof-corners, no tree-tops of the Bois de Boulogne.
My propeller was showing its power, and I was free to let it go. I had
only to hold my course straight in the teeth of the breeze and watch the
far-off Mediterranean shore flit past me.

I had plenty of leisure to look about. Presently I met two sailing
yachts scudding towards me down the coast. I noticed that their sails
were full-bellied. As I flew on over them, and they beneath me, I heard
a faint cheer, and a graceful female figure on the foremost yacht waved
a red foulard. As I turned to answer the politeness I perceived with
some astonishment that we were far apart already.

I was now well up the coast, about half-way to Cap Martin. Above was
the limitless blue void. Below was the solitude of white-capped waves.
From the appearance of sailing boats here and there I could tell that
the wind was increasing to a squall, and I would have to turn in it
before I could fly back upon it in my homeward trip.

Porting my helm I held the rudder tight. The air-ship swung round like a
boat; then as the wind sent me flying down the coast my only work was to
maintain the steady course. In scarcely more time than it takes to write
it I was opposite the bay of Monaco again.

With a sharp turn of the rudder I entered the protected harbour, and
amid a thousand cheers stopped the propeller, pulled in the forward
shifting weight, and let the dying impetus of the air-ship carry it
diagonally down to the landing-stage. This time there was no trouble. On
the broad landing-stage stood my own men, assisted by those put at my
disposition by the prince. The air-ship was grasped as it came gliding
slowly to them, and, without actually coming to a stop, it was "led"
over the sea wall across the Boulevard de la Condamine and into the
aerodrome. The trip had lasted less than an hour, and I had been within
a few hundred metres (yards) of Cap Martin.

Here was an obvious trip, first against and then with a stiff wind, and
the curious may render themselves an account of the fact by glancing at
the two photographs marked "Wind A" and "Wind B." As they happened to
be taken by a Monte Carlo professional intent simply on getting good
photographs they are impartial.

"Wind A" shows me leaving the bay of Monaco against a wind that is
blowing back the smoke of the two steamers seen on the horizon.

"Wind B" was taken up the coast just before I met the two little sailing
yachts which are obviously scudding toward me.

The loneliness in which I found myself in the middle of this first
extended flight up the Mediterranean shore was not part of the
programme. During the manufacture of the hydrogen gas and the filling
of the balloon I had received the visits of a great many prominent
people, several of whom signified their ability and readiness to lend
valuable aid to these experiments. From Beaulieu, where his steam-yacht,
_Lysistrata_, was at anchor, came Mr James Gordon Bennett, and Mr
Eugene Higgins had already brought the _Varuna_ up from Nice on more
than one occasion. The beautiful little steam-yacht of M. Eiffel also
held itself in readiness.

It had been the intention of these owners, as it had been that of the
prince with his _Princesse Alice_, to follow the air-ship in its flights
over the Mediterranean, so as to be on the spot in case of accident.
This first flight, however, had been taken on impulse before any
programme for the yachts had been arranged, and my next long flight,
as will be seen, demonstrated that this kind of protection must not be
counted on overmuch by air-ship captains.

It was on the 12th of February 1902. One steam chaloupe and two
petroleum launches, all three of them swift goers, together with three
well-manned row-boats, had been stationed at intervals down the coast to
pick me up in case of accident. The steam _chaloupe_ of the Prince of
Monaco, carrying His Highness, the Governor-General, and the captain of
the _Princesse Alice_, had already started on the course ahead of time.
The 40 horse-power Mors automobile of Mr Clarence Grey Dinsmore and the
30 horse-power Panhard of M. Isidore Kahenstein were prepared to
follow along the lower coast road.

[Illustration: "WIND A"]

[Illustration: "WIND B"]

Immediately on leaving the bay of Monaco I met the wind head on as
I steered my course straight down the coast in the direction of the
Italian frontier. Putting on all speed I held the rudder firm and let
myself go. I could see the ragged outlines of the coast flit past me on
the left. Along the winding road the two racing automobiles kept abreast
with me, being driven at high speed.

"It was all we could do to follow the air-ship along the curves of the
coast road," said one of Mr Dinsmore's passengers to the reporter of a
Paris journal, "so rapid was its flight. In less than five minutes it
had arrived opposite the Villa Camille Blanc, which is about a kilometre
(3/4 of a mile) distant from Cap Martin as the crow flies.

"At this moment the air-ship was absolutely alone. Between it and Cap
Martin I saw a single row-boat, while far behind was visible the smoke
from the prince's _chaloupe_. It was really no commonplace sight to see
the air-ship thus hovering isolated over the immense sea."

The wind instead of subsiding had been increasing. Here and there around
the horizon I could see the bent white sails of yachts driven before
it. The situation was new to me, so I made an abrupt turn and started
back on the home stretch.

Now again the wind was with me, stronger than it had been on the
preceding flight down the coast. Yet it was easy steering, and I
remarked with pleasure that going thus with the wind the pitching or
_tangage_ of the air-ship was much less. Though going fast with my
propeller, and aided by the wind behind me, I felt no more motion,
indeed even less, than before.

For the rest, how different were my sensations from those of the
spherical balloonist! It is true that he sees the earth flying backward
beneath him at tremendous speed. But he knows that he is powerless.
The great sphere of gas above him is the plaything of the air current,
and he cannot change his direction by a hair's-breadth. In my air-ship
I could see myself flying over the sea, but I had my hands on a helm
that made me master of my direction in this splendid course. Once or
twice, merely to give myself an account of it, I shoved the helm around
a short arc. Obedient, the air-ship's stem swung to the other side, and
I found myself speeding in a new diagonal course. But these manoeuvres
only occupied a few instants each, and each time I swung myself back on
a straight line to the entrance to the bay of Monaco, for I was flying
homeward like an eagle, and must keep my course.

To those watching my return, from the terraces of Monte Carlo and Monaco
town, as they told me afterwards, the air-ship increased in size at
every instant, like a veritable eagle bearing down upon them. As the
wind was coming toward them they could hear the low, crackling rumble
of my motor a long distance off. Faintly, now, their own shouts of
encouragement came to me. Almost instantly the shouts grew loud. Around
the bay a thousand handkerchiefs were fluttering. I gave a sharp turn to
the helm, and the air-ship leaped into the bay amid the cheering and the
waving just as great raindrops were beginning to fall.[C]

    [C] "Half-an-hour after the aeronaut's return the wind became
        violent, a heavy storm followed, and the sea became very
        rough." (Paris edition, _New York Herald_, 13th February
        1902.)

I had first slowed and then stopped the motor. As the air-ship now
gently approached the landing-stage, borne on by its dying momentum, I
gave the usual signal for those in the boats to seize my guide rope. The
steam _chaloupe_ of the prince, which had turned back midway between
Monte Carlo and Cap Martin after I had overtaken and passed it on my out
trip, had by this time reached the bay. The prince, who was still on
board, desired to catch the guide rope; and those with him, having no
experience of its weight and the force with which the air-ship drags it
through the water, did not seek to dissuade him. Instead of catching the
heavy floating cordage as the darting _chaloupe_ passed it His Highness
managed to get struck by it on the right arm, an accident which knocked
him fairly to the bottom of the little vessel and produced severe
contusions.

A second attempt to catch the guide rope was more successful, and the
air-ship was easily drawn to the sea wall, over it, and into its house.
Like everything in this new navigation, the particular manoeuvre was
new. I was still going faster than I appeared to be, and such attempts
to catch and stop an air-ship even on its dying momentum are apt to
upset someone. The only way not to get too abrupt a shock is to run with
the machine and slow it down gently.



CHAPTER XIX

SPEED


What speed my "No. 6" made on those Mediterranean flights was not
published at the time because I had not sought to calculate it closely.
Fresh from the troubling time limit of the Deutsch prize competition I
amused myself frankly with my air-ship, making observations of great
value to myself, but not seeking to prove anything to anyone.

The speed problem is, doubtless, the first of all air-ship problems.
Speed must always be the final test between rival air-ships, and
until high speed shall be arrived at certain other problems of aerial
navigation must remain in part unsolved. For example, take that of
the air-ship's pitching (_tangage_). I think it quite likely that a
critical point in speed will be found, beyond which, on each side, the
pitching will be practically _nil_. When going slowly or at moderate
speed I have experienced no pitching, which in an air-ship like my
"No. 6" seems always to commence at 25 to 30 kilometres (15 to 18
miles) per hour through the air. Now, probably, when one passes this
speed considerably--say at the rate of 50 kilometres (30 miles) per
hour--all _tangage_ or pitching will be found to cease again, as I
myself experienced when flying homeward on the wind in the voyage last
described.

Speed must always be the final test between rival air-ships, because,
in itself, speed sums up all other air-ship qualities, including
"stability." At Monaco, however, I had no rivals to compete with.
Furthermore, my prime study and amusement there was the beautiful
working of the maritime guide rope; and this guide rope, dragging
through the water, must of necessity retard whatever speed I made. There
could be no help for it. Such was the price I must pay for automatic
equilibrium and vertical stability--in a word, easy navigation--so long
as I remained the sole and solitary navigator of the air-ship.

Nor is it an easy task to calculate an air-ship's speed. On those
flights up and down the Mediterranean coast the speed of my return
to Monaco, wonderfully aided by the wind, could bear no relation to
the speed out, retarded by the wind, and there was nothing to show
that the force of the wind going and coming was constant. It is true
that on those flights one of the difficulties standing in the way of
such speed calculations--the "shoot the chutes" (_montagnes Russes_)
of ever-varying altitude--was done away with by the operation of the
maritime guide rope; but, on the other hand, as has been said, the
dragging of the guide rope's weight through the water acted as a
very effectual brake. As the speed of the air-ship is increased this
brake-like action of the guide rope (like that of the resistance of
the atmosphere itself) grows, not in proportion to the speed, but in
proportion to the square of it.

On those flights along the Mediterranean coast the easy navigation
afforded me by the maritime guide rope was purchased, as nearly as I
could calculate, by the sacrifice of about 7 or 8 kilometres (4 or 5
miles) per hour of speed; but with or without maritime guide rope the
speed calculation has its own almost insurmountable difficulties.

From Monte Carlo to Cap Martin at 10 o'clock of a given morning may
be quite a different trip from Monte Carlo to Cap Martin at noon of
the same day; while from Cap Martin to Monte Carlo, except in perfect
calm, must always be a still different proposition. Nor can any accurate
calculations be based on the markings of the anemometer, an instrument
which I, nevertheless, carried. Out of simple curiosity I made note of
its readings on several occasions during my trip of 12th February 1902.
It seemed to be marking between 32 and 37 kilometres (20 and 23 miles)
per hour; but the wind, complicated by side gusts, acting at the same
time on the air-ship and the wings of the anemometer windmill--_i.e._
on two moving systems whose inertia cannot possibly be compared--would
alone be sufficient to falsify the result.

When, therefore, I state that, according to my best judgment, the
average of my speed through the air on those flights was between 30 and
35 kilometres (18 and 22 miles) per hour, it will be understood that it
refers to speed through the air whether the air be still or moving and
to speed retarded by the dragging of the maritime guide rope. Putting
this adverse influence at the moderate figure of 7 kilometres (4-1/2
miles) per hour my speed through the still or moving air would be
between 37 and 42 kilometres (22 and 27 miles) per hour.

Rather than spend time over illusory calculations on paper I have always
preferred to go on materially improving my air-ships. Later, when they
come in competition with the rivals which no one awaits more ardently
than myself, all speed calculations made on paper and all disputes based
on them must of necessity yield to the one sublime test of air-ship
racing.

Where speed calculations have their real importance is in affording
necessary _data_ for the construction of new and more powerful
air-ships. Thus the balloon of my racing "No. 7," whose motive power
depends on two propellers each 5 metres (16-1/2 feet) in diameter,
and worked by a 60 horse-power motor with a water cooler, has its
envelope made of two layers of the strongest French silk, four times
varnished, capable of standing, under dynamometric test, a traction of
3000 kilogrammes (6600 pounds) for the linear metre (3·3 feet). I will
now try to explain why the balloon envelope must be made so very much
stronger as the speed of the air-ship is designed to be increased; and
in so doing I shall have to reveal the unique and paradoxical danger
that besets high-speed dirigibles, threatening them, not with beating
their heads in against the outer atmosphere, but with blowing their
tails out behind them.

Although the interior pressure in the balloons of my air-ships is
very considerable, as balloons go, the spherical balloon, having a
hole in its bottom, is under no such pressure: it is so little in
comparison with the general pressure of the atmosphere, that we measure
it, not by "atmospheres," but by centimetres or millimetres of water
pressure--_i.e._ the pressure that will send a column of water up that
distance in a tube. One "atmosphere" means one kilogramme of pressure
to the square centimetre (15 lbs. to the square inch), and it is
equivalent to about 10 metres of water pressure, or, more conveniently,
1000 centimetres of "water." Now, supposing the interior pressure in
my slower "No. 6" to have been close up to 3 centimetres of water
(it required that pressure to open its gas valves), it would have
been equivalent to 1/333 of an atmosphere; and as one atmosphere is
equivalent to a pressure of 1000 grammes (1 kilogramme) on one square
centimetre the interior pressure of my "No. 6" would have been 1/333
of 1000 grammes, or 3 grammes. Therefore on one square metre (10,000
square centimetres) of the stem head of the balloon of my "No. 6"
the interior pressure would have been 10,000 multiplied by 3, or 30,000
grammes _i.e._--30 kilogrammes (66 lbs.).

[Illustration: "SANTOS-DUMONT No. 7"]

How is this interior pressure maintained without being exceeded?
Were the great exterior balloon filled with hydrogen and then sealed
up with wax at each of its valves, the sun's heat might expand the
hydrogen, make it exceed this pressure, and burst the balloon; or should
the sealed balloon rise high, the decreasing pressure of the outer
atmosphere might let its hydrogen expand, with the same result. The
gas valves of the great balloon, therefore, must _not_ be sealed; and,
furthermore, they must always be very carefully made, so that they will
open of their own accord at the required and calculated pressure.

This pressure (of 3 centimetres in the "No. 6"), it ought to be noted,
is attained by the heating of the sun or by a rise in altitude only
when the balloon is completely filled with gas: what may be called its
working pressure--about one-fifth lower--is maintained by the rotary air
pump. Worked continually by the motor, it pumps air continually into the
smaller interior balloon. As much of this air as is needed to preserve
the outer balloon's rigidity remains inside the little interior
balloon, but all the rest pushes its way out into the atmosphere again
through its air valve, which opens at a little less pressure than do the
gas valves.

Let us now return to the balloon of my "No. 6." The _interior_ pressure
on each square metre of its stem head being continuously about 30
kilogrammes the silk material composing it must be normally strong
enough to stand it; nevertheless, it will be easy to see how it becomes
more and more relieved of that interior pressure as the air-ship gets
in motion and increases speed. Its striking against the atmosphere
makes a counter pressure _against the outside_ of the stem head. Up
to 30 kilogrammes to the square metre, therefore, all increase in the
air-ship's speed tends to reduce strain, so that the faster the air-ship
goes the less will it be liable to burst out its head!

How fast may the balloon be carried on by motor and propeller before its
head stem strikes the atmosphere hard enough to more than neutralise the
interior pressure? This, too, is a matter of calculation; but, to spare
the reader, I will content myself with pointing out that my flights over
the Mediterranean proved that the balloon of my "No. 6" could safely
stand a speed of 36 to 42 kilometres (22 to 27 miles) per hour without
giving the slightest hint of strain. Had I wanted an air-ship of the
proportions of the "No. 6" to go twice as fast under the same conditions
its balloon must have been strong enough to stand four times its
interior pressure of 3 centimetres of "water," because the resistance of
the atmosphere grows not in proportion to the speed but in proportion to
the square of the speed.

The balloon of my "No. 7" is not, of course, built in the precise
proportions of that of my "No. 6," but I may mention that it has been
tested to resist an interior pressure of much more than 12 centimetres
of "water"; in fact, its gas valves open at that pressure only. This
means just four times the interior pressure of my "No. 6." Comparing
the two balloons in a general way, it is obvious, therefore, that with
no risk from outside pressure, and with positive relief from interior
pressure on its stem or head, the balloon of my "No. 7" may be driven
twice as fast as my easy-going Mediterranean pace of 42 kilometres (25
miles) per hour, or 80 kilometres (50 miles).

This brings us to the unique and paradoxical weakness of the fast-going
dirigible. Up to the point where the exterior shall equal the interior
pressure we have seen how every increase of speed actually guarantees
safety to the stem of the balloon. Unhappily, it does not remain true
of the balloon's stern head. On it the interior pressure is also
continuous, but speed cannot relieve it. On the contrary, the _suction_
of the atmosphere behind the balloon, as it speeds on, increases also
almost in the same proportion as the pressure caused by driving the
balloon against the atmosphere. And this suction, instead of operating
to neutralise the interior pressure on the balloon's stern head,
_increases_ the strain just that much, the pull being added to the push.
Paradoxical as it may seem, therefore, the danger of the swift dirigible
is to blow its tail out rather than its head in. (See Fig. 12.)

[Illustration: Fig. 12]

How is this danger to be met? Obviously by strengthening the stern
part of the balloon envelope. We have seen that when the speed of
my "No. 7" shall be just great enough to completely neutralise the
interior pressure on its stem head the strain on its stern head will be
practically doubled. For this reason I have doubled the balloon material
at this point.

I have reason to be careful of the balloon of my "No. 7." In it the
speed problem will be attacked definitely. It has two propellers, each
5 metres (16-1/2 feet) in diameter. One will push, as usual, from the
stern, while the other will pull from the stem, as in my "No. 4." Its
60 horse-power Clement motor will, if my expectations are fulfilled,
give it a speed of between 70 and 80 kilometres (40 and 50 miles) per
hour. In a word, the speed of my "No. 7" will bring us very close to
practical, everyday aerial navigation, for as we seldom have a wind
blowing as much even as 50 kilometres (30 miles) per hour such an
air-ship will surely be able to go out daily during more than ten months
in the twelve.



CHAPTER XX

AN ACCIDENT AND ITS LESSONS


At half-past two o'clock on the afternoon of the 14th of February 1902
the staunch air-ship which won the Deutsch prize left the aerodrome of
La Condamine on what was destined to be its last voyage.

Immediately on quitting the aerodrome it began behaving badly, dipping
heavily. It had left the balloon house imperfectly inflated, hence it
lacked ascensional force. To keep my proper altitude I increased its
diagonal pointing and kept the propeller pushing it on upward. The
dipping, of course, was due to the counter effort of gravity.

In the shaded atmosphere of the aerodrome the air had been comparatively
cool. The balloon was now out in the hot, open sunlight. As a
consequence, the hydrogen nearest to the silk cover rarefied rapidly.
As the balloon had left the aerodrome imperfectly inflated the
rarefied hydrogen was able to rush to the highest possible point--the
up-pointing stem. This exaggerated the inclination which I had made
purposely. The balloon pointed higher and higher. Indeed, for a time, it
seemed almost to be pointing perpendicularly.

Before I had time to correct this "rearing up" of my aerial steed many
of the diagonal wires had begun to give way, as the slanting pressure on
them was unusual, and others, including those of the rudder, caught in
the propeller.

Should I leave the propeller to grind on the rigging the balloon
envelope would be torn the next moment, the gas would leave the balloon
in a mass, and I would be precipitated into the waves with violence.

I stopped the motor. I was now in the position of an ordinary spherical
balloonist--at the mercy of the winds. These were taking me in shore,
where I would be presently cast upon the telegraph wires, trees, and
house corners of Monte Carlo.

There was but one thing to do.

Pulling on the manoeuvre valve I let out a sufficient quantity of
hydrogen and came slowly down to the surface of the water, in which the
air-ship sank.

Balloon, keel, and motor were successfully fished up the next day and
shipped off to Paris for repairs. Thus abruptly ended my maritime
experiments; but thus also I learned that, while a properly inflated
balloon, furnished with the proper valves, has nothing to fear from
gas displacement, it is best to be on the safe side and guard oneself
against the possibility of such displacement, when by some neglect or
other the balloon is allowed to go out imperfectly inflated.

For this reason, in all my succeeding air-ships, the balloon is divided
into many compartments by vertical silk partitions, not varnished. The
partitions remaining unvarnished, the hydrogen gas can slowly pass
through their meshes from one compartment to another to ensure an equal
pressure throughout. But as they are, nevertheless, partitions, they
are always ready to guard against any precipitous rushing of gas toward
either extremity of the balloon.

Indeed, the experimenter with dirigible balloons must be continually
on his guard against little errors and neglects of his aids. I have
four men who have now been with me four years. They are in their way
experts, and I have every confidence in them. Yet this thing happened:
the air-ship was allowed to leave the aerodrome imperfectly inflated.
Imagine, then, what might be the danger of an experimenter with a set of
inexperienced subordinates.

In spite of their great simplicity my air-ships require constant
surveillance on a few capital heads:

Is the balloon properly filled?

Is there any possibility of a leak?

Is the rigging in condition?

Is the motor in condition?

Do the cords commanding rudder, motor, water ballast, and the shifting
guide rope work freely?

Is the ballast properly weighed?

Looked on as a mere machine the air-ship requires no more care than an
automobile, but, from the point of view of consequences, the need of
faithful and intelligent surveillance is simply imperious. This very day
all the highways of France are dotted with a thousand automobiles _en
panne_, with their enthusiastic drivers crawling underneath them in the
dust, oil-can and wrench in hand, repairing momentary accidents. They
think no less of their automobile for this reason. Yet let the air-ship
have the same trifling accident and all the world is likely to hear of
the fact.

In the first years of my experiments I insisted on doing everything for
myself. I "groomed" my balloons and motors with my own hands. My present
aids understand my present air-ships, and nine times out of ten they
hand them over to me in good condition for the voyage. Yet were I to
begin experiments with a new type I should have to train them all anew,
and during that time I should have to care for the air-ships with my own
hands again.

On this occasion the air-ship left the aerodrome imperfectly weighed
and inflated, not so much by the neglect of my men as by reason of the
imperfect situation of the aerodrome. In spite of the care that had been
given to designing and constructing it, from the very nature of its
situation there was no space outside in which to send up the air-ship
and ascertain if its ballast were properly distributed. Could this
have been done the imperfect inflation of the balloon would have been
perceived in time.

Looking back over all my varied experiences I reflect with astonishment
that one of my greatest dangers passed unperceived, even by myself at
the end of my most successful flight over the Mediterranean.

[Illustration: "MY PRESENT AIDS UNDERSTAND MY PRESENT AIRSHIPS"

MOTOR OF "No. 6"]

It was at the time the prince attempted to grasp my guide rope and was
knocked into the bottom of his steam _chaloupe_. I had entered the bay
after flying homeward up the coast, and they were towing me toward the
aerodrome. The air-ship had descended very close to the surface of
the water, and they were pulling it still lower by means of the guide
rope, until it was not many feet above the smoke-stack of the steam
_chaloupe_--and that smoke-stack was belching red-hot sparks.

Any one of those red-hot sparks might have, ascending, burned a hole in
my balloon, set fire to the hydrogen, and blown balloon and myself to
atoms.



CHAPTER XXI

THE FIRST OF THE WORLD'S AIR-SHIP STATIONS


Air-ship experimenters labour under one peculiar disadvantage, quite
apart from the proper difficulties of the problem. It is due to the
utter newness of travel in a third dimension, and consists in the
slowness with which our minds realise the necessity of providing for
the diagonal mountings and descents of the air-ships starting from and
returning to the ground.

When the Aéro Club of Paris laid out its grounds at St Cloud it was
with the sole idea of facilitating the vertical mounting of spherical
balloons. Indeed, no provisions were made even for the landing of
spherical balloons, because their captains never hoped to bring them
back to the St Cloud balloon park otherwise than by rail, packed in
their boxes. The spherical balloon lands where the wind takes it.

When I built my first air-ship house in the Club's grounds at St Cloud
I dare say that the then novel advantages of possessing my own gas
plant, workshop, and a shelter in which the inflated dirigibles could
be housed indefinitely withheld my attention from this other almost
vital problem of surroundings. It was already a great progress for
me not to be obliged to empty the balloon and waste its hydrogen at
the end of each trip. Thus I was content to build simply an air-ship
house with great sliding doors without even taking precautions to
guarantee a flat, open space in front, and, less still, on either side
of it. When, little by little, trenches something like a metre (yard)
deep--vague foundation outlines for constructions that were never
finished--began appearing here and there to the right of my open doors
and on beyond I realised that my aids might risk falling into them in
running to catch my guide rope when I should be returning from a trip.
And when the gigantic skeleton of M. Henry Deutsch's air-ship house,
designed to shelter the air-ship he built on the lines of my "No. 6,"
and called "La Ville de Paris," rose directly in front of my sliding
doors, scarcely two air-ships' lengths distant from them, it dawned on
me at last that here was something of a peril, and more than a simple
inconvenience due to natural crowding in a club's grounds. In spite of
the new peril the Deutsch prize was won. Returning from the Eiffel Tower
I passed high above the skeleton. I may say here, however, that the
foundation trenches innocently caused the painful controversy about my
time, to which I have made a brief allusion in the chapter. Seeing that
they might easily break their legs by stumbling into those foundation
trenches I had positively forbidden my men to run across that space to
catch my guide rope with their eyes and arms up in the air. Not dreaming
that such a point could be raised, my men obeyed the injunction.
Observing that I was quite master of my rudder, motor, and propeller,
able to turn and return to the spot where the judges stood, they let me
pass on over their heads without seeking to catch and run along with the
guide rope, a thing they might have done easily--at the risk of their
legs.

Again, at Monaco, after a well-planned air-ship house had been
erected in what seemed an ideal spot, we have seen what dangers were,
nevertheless, threatened by the sea wall, the Boulevard de la Condamine
with its poles, wires, and traffic, and the final disaster, due entirely
to the absence of a weighing ground beside the aerodrome. These are
dangers and inconveniences against which we come in time to be on our
guard by actual and often dire experience.

[Illustration: "SANTOS-DUMONT No. 5"

SHOWING HOW AËRO CLUB GROUNDS WERE CUT UP]

During the spring and summer of 1902 I took trips to England and the
United States, of which I shall have a word to say later. Returning
from those trips to Paris I at once set about selecting the site of an
aerodrome that should be all my own and in which the experience gained
at such cost should be taken advantage of. This time I resolved my
air-ship house should have an ample space around it. And, succeeding in
a way, I realised--if I may say it--the first of the air-ship stations
of the future.

After long search I came on a fair-sized lot of vacant ground surrounded
by a high stone wall, inside the police jurisdiction of the Bois de
Boulogne, but private property, situated on the Rue de Longchamps, in
Neuilly St James. First, I had to come to an understanding with its
owner; then I had to come to an understanding with the Bois authorities,
who took time to give a building permit to such an unusual construction
as a house from which air-ships would go and come.

The Rue de Longchamps is a narrow suburban street, little built on at
this end, that gives on the Bagatelle Gate to the Bois de Boulogne,
beside the training ground of the same name. To go and come in my
air-ships from this side is, however, inconvenient because of the walls
of the various properties, the trees that line the Bois so thickly, and
the great park gates. To the right and left of my little property are
other buildings. Behind me, across the Boulevard de la Seine, is the
river itself, with the Ile de Puteaux in it. It is from this side that
I must go and come in my air-ships. Mounting diagonally in the air from
my own open grounds I pass over my wall, the Boulevard de la Seine, and
turn when well above the river. Regularly I turn to the left and make my
way, in a great arc, to the Bois by way of the training ground, itself a
fairly open space.

[Illustration: FIRST OF THE WORLD'S AIRSHIP STATIONS (NEUILLY ST JAMES)]

There it stands in its grounds, the first of the air-ship stations of
the future, capable of housing seven air-ships all inflated and prepared
to navigate at an instant's notice! But in spite of all the needs that
I attempted to provide for in it what a small and hampered place it is
compared with the great, highly-organised stations which the future must
produce for itself, with their high-placed and spacious landing-stages,
to which air-ships will descend with complete safety and convenience,
like great birds that seek nests on flat rocks! Such stations may
have little car tracks running out from their interior to the wide
landing-spaces. The cars that run over them will pull the air-ships
in and out by their guide ropes, without loss of time or the aid of a
dozen or more men. Their observation towers will serve for judges timing
stations in aerial races; fitted with wireless telegraph apparatus
they may be able to communicate with distant goals and, perhaps, even
with the air-ships in motion. Attached to their air-ship stations
there will be gas-generating plants. There may be a casemated workshop
for the testing of motors. There will certainly be sleeping-rooms for
experimenters who desire to make an early start and profit by the calm
of the dawn. It is quite probable that there will also be balloon
envelope workshops for repairs and changes, a carpenter shop, and a
machine shop, with intelligent and experienced workmen ready and able to
seize an idea and execute it.

Meanwhile my air-ship station of the present is said to resemble a great
square tent, striped red and white, set in the midst of a vacant lot
surrounded by a high stone wall. Its tent-like appearance is due to the
fact that, being in a hurry to utilise it, I saw no reason to construct
its walls or roof of wood. The framework consists of long rows of
parallel wooden pillars. Across their tops is stretched a canvas roof,
and the four sides are made of the same striped canvas. This makes a
construction stronger than it at first appears, the outside tent stuff
weighing some 2600 kilogrammes (5720 lbs.), and being sustained between
the pillars by metallic cordage.

Inside, the central stalls are 9-1/2 metres (31 feet) wide, 50 metres
(165 feet) long, and 13-1/2 metres (44-1/2 feet) high, affording room
for the largest dirigibles without permitting them to come into contact
with each other. The great sliding doors are but a repetition of those
of Monaco.

When in the spring of 1903 I found my air-ship station completed I had
three new air-ships ready to house in it. They were:

[Illustration: "No. 7"]

My "No. 7." This I call my racing air-ship. It is designed and reserved
for important competitions, the mere cost of filling it with hydrogen
being more than 3000 francs (£120). It is true that, once filled, it
may be kept inflated for a month at the expense of 50 francs (£2)
per day for hydrogen to replace what is lost by the daily play of
condensation and dilatation. Having a gas capacity of 1257 cubic metres
(nearly 45,000 cubic feet) it possesses twice the lifting power of my
"No. 6," in which the Deutsch prize was won; and such is the necessary
weight of its 60 horse-power, water-cooled, four-cylinder motor and its
proportionally strong machinery that I shall probably take up no more
ballast in it than I took up in the "No. 6." Comparing their sizes and
lifting powers, it would make five of

My "No. 9," the novel little "runabout," which I shall describe in the
succeeding chapter. The third of the new air-ships is

My "No. 10," which has been called "The Omnibus." Its gas capacity of
2010 cubic metres (nearly 80,000 cubic feet) makes its balloon greater
in size and lifting power than even the racing "No. 7"; and should
I, indeed, desire at any time to shift to it the latter's keel, all
furnished with the racing motor and machinery, I might combine a very
swift air craft capable of carrying myself, several aids and a large
supply of both petroleum and ballast--not to speak of war munitions were
the sudden need of a belligerent character.

The prime purpose of my "No. 10," however, is well indicated in its
name: "The Omnibus." Its keel, or, rather, keels, as I have fashioned
them, are double--that is to say, hanging underneath its usual keel, in
which my basket is situated, there is a passenger keel that holds three
similar baskets and a smaller basket for my aid. Each passenger basket
is large enough to contain four passengers; and it is to carry such
passengers that "The Omnibus" has been constructed.

[Illustration: Fig. 13.--"No. 10" rising]

[Illustration: "No. 10"

WITHOUT PASSENGER KEEL]

Indeed, after mature reflection, it seemed to me that this must be the
most practical and rapid way to popularise aerial navigation. In my
other air-ships I have shown that it is possible to mount and travel
through the air on a prescribed course with no greater danger than one
risks in any racing automobile. In "The Omnibus" I shall demonstrate
to the world that there are very many men--and women--possessed of
sufficient confidence in the aerial idea to mount with me as passengers
in the first of the air omnibuses of the future.

[Illustration: Fig. 14.--"No. 10" descending]



CHAPTER XXII

MY "NO. 9," THE LITTLE RUNABOUT


Once I was enamoured of high-power petroleum automobiles: they can go at
express-train speed to any part of Europe, finding fuel in any village.
"I can go to Moscow or Lisbon!" I said to myself. But when I discovered
that I did not want to go to Moscow or to Lisbon the small and handy
electric runabout in which I do my errands about Paris and the Bois
proved more satisfactory.

Speaking from the standpoint of my pleasure and convenience as a
Parisian my air-ship experience has been similar. When the balloon and
motor of my 60 horse-power "No. 7" were completed I said to myself:

[Illustration: "SANTOS-DUMONT No. 9"]

"I can race any air-ship that is likely to be built!" But when I found
that, in spite of the forfeits I paid into the Aéro Club's treasury,
there was no one ready to race with me I determined to build a small
air-ship runabout for my pleasure and convenience only. In it I
would pass the time while waiting for the future to bring forth
competitions worthy of my race craft.

So I built my "No. 9," the smallest of possible dirigibles, yet very
practical indeed. As originally constructed, its balloons capacity was
but 220 cubic metres (7770 cubic feet), permitting me to take up less
than 30 kilogrammes (66 lbs.) of ballast--and thus I navigated it for
weeks, without inconvenience. Even when I enlarged its balloon to 261
cubic metres (9218 cubic feet) the balloon of my "No. 6," in which I won
the Deutsch prize, would have made almost three of it, while that of my
"Omnibus" is fully eight times its size. As I have already stated, its 3
horse-power Clement motor weighs but 12 kilogrammes (26-1/2 lbs.). With
such a motor one cannot expect great speed; nevertheless, this handy
little runabout takes me over the Bois at between 20 and 25 kilometres
(12 and 15 miles) per hour, and this notwithstanding its egg-shaped form
(Fig. 15), which would seemingly be little calculated for cutting the
air. Indeed, to make it respond promptly to the rudder, I drive it thick
end first.

I have said that, as it was originally proportioned, the balloon of
this smallest of possible dirigibles permitted me to take up less than
30 kilogrammes (66 lbs.) of ballast. As now enlarged its lifting power
is greater; but when account is taken of my own weight and the weight
of keel, motor, screw, and machinery, the whole system becomes neither
lighter nor heavier than the surrounding atmosphere when I have loaded
it with 60 kilogrammes (132 lbs.) of ballast; and it is just in this
connection that it will be easiest to explain why I have called this
little air-ship very practical. On Monday, 29th June 1903, I landed
with it on the grounds of the Aéro Club at St Cloud in the midst of six
inflated spherical balloons. After a short call I started off again.

[Illustration: Fig. 15]

"Can we not give you some gas?" politely asked my fellow-clubmen.

[Illustration: "No. 9." SHOWING RELATIVE SIZE]

"You saw me coming all the way from Neuilly," I replied; "did I throw
out any ballast?"

"You threw out no ballast," they admitted.

"Then why should I be in need of gas?"

As a matter of scientific curiosity I may relate that I did not either
lose or sacrifice a cubic foot of gas or a single pound of ballast that
whole afternoon--nor has that experience been at all exceptional in the
very practical little "No. 9" or even in its predecessors. It will be
remembered that on the day succeeding the winning of the Deutsch prize
my chief mechanician found that the balloon of my "No. 6" would take no
gas because none had been lost.

After leaving my fellow-clubmen at St Cloud that afternoon I made a
typically practical trip. To go from Neuilly St James to the Aéro Club's
grounds I had already passed the Seine. Now, crossing it again, I made
the café-restaurant of "The Cascade," where I stopped for refreshments.
It was by this time 5 P.M. Not wishing to return yet to my station I
crossed the Seine for a third time and went in a straight course as
close to the great fort of Mount Valerien as delicacy permitted. Then,
returning, I traversed the river once again and came to earth in my own
grounds at Neuilly.

During the whole trip my greatest altitude was 105 metres (346 feet).
Taking into consideration that my guide rope hangs 40 metres (132 feet)
below me, and that the tops of the Bois trees extend up some 20 metres
(70 feet) from the ground, this extreme altitude left me but 40 metres
(140 feet) of clear space for vertical manoeuvring.

It was enough; and the proof of it is that I do not go higher on these
trips of pleasure and experiment. Indeed, when I hear of dirigibles
going up 400 metres (1300 feet) in the air without some special
justifying object I am filled with amazement. As I have already
explained, the place of the dirigible is, normally, in low altitudes;
and the ideal is to guide-rope on a sufficiently low course to be left
free from vertical manoeuvring. This is what M. Armengaud, _Jeune_,
referred to in his learned inaugural discourse delivered before the
Société Française de Navigation Aérienne in 1901, when he advised me to
quit the Mediterranean and go guide-roping over great plains like that
of La Beauce.

[Illustration: "No. 9" JUMPING MY WALL]

It is not necessary to go to the plain of La Beauce. One can guide-rope
even in the centre of Paris if one goes about it at the proper
moment. I have done it.

I have guide-roped round the Arc de Triomphe and down the Avenue des
Champs Elysées at as low an altitude as the house-tops on either side,
fearing no ill and finding no difficulty. My first flight of this kind
occurred when I sought for the first time to land in my "No. 9" in front
of my own house door, at the corner of the Avenue des Champs Elysées and
the Rue Washington, on Tuesday, 23rd June 1903.

Knowing that the feat must be accomplished at an hour when the imposing
pleasure promenade of Paris would be least encumbered, I had instructed
my men to sleep through the early part of the night in the air-ship
station at Neuilly St James so as to be able to have the "No. 9" ready
for an early start at dawn. I myself rose at 2 A.M., and in my handy
electric automobile arrived at the station while it was yet dark. The
men still slept. I climbed the wall, waked them, and succeeded in
quitting the earth on my first diagonally upward course over the wall
and above the River Seine before the day had broken. Turning to the
left, I made my way across the Bois, picking out the open spaces so as
to guide-rope as much as possible.

When I came to trees I jumped over them. So, navigating through the
cool air of the delicious dawn, I reached the Porte Dauphine and the
beginning of the broad Avenue du Bois de Boulogne, which leads directly
to the Arc de Triomphe. This carriage promenade of Tout-Paris was empty.

"I will guide-rope up the avenue of the Bois," I said to myself
gleefully.

What this means you will perceive when I recall that my guide-rope's
length is barely 40 metres (132 feet), and that one guide-ropes best
with at least 20 metres (66 feet) of it trailing along the ground. Thus
at times I went lower than the roofs of the houses on each side. I call
this practical air-ship navigation because:

(_a_) It leaves the aerial navigator free to steer his course without
pitching and without care or effort to maintain his steady altitude.

(_b_) It can be done with absolute safety from falling, not only to the
navigator, but also to the air-ship--a consideration not without its
merit when the cost, both of repairs and hydrogen gas, is taken into
count; and

(_c_) When the wind is against one--as it was on this occasion--one
finds less of it in these low altitudes.

[Illustration: "No. 9." GUIDE-ROPING ON A LEVEL WITH THE HOUSETOPS]

So I guide-roped up the avenue of the Bois. So, some day, will explorers
guide-rope to the North Pole from their ice-locked steamship after it
has reached its farthest point north. Guide-roping over the ice pack,
they will make the very few hundreds of miles to the Pole at the rate
of from 60 to 80 kilometres (40 to 50 miles) per hour. Even at the rate
of 50 kilometres (30 miles), the trip to the Pole and back to the ship
could be taken between breakfast and supper time. I do not say that they
will land the first time at the Pole, but they will circle round about
the spot, take observations, and return ... for supper.

I might have guide-roped under the Arc de Triomphe had I thought myself
worthy. Instead, I rounded the national monument to the right, as the
law directs. Naturally, I had intended to go on straight down the
Avenue des Champs Elysées, but here I met a difficulty. All the avenues
meeting at the great "Star" look alike from the air-ship. Also, they
look narrow. I was surprised and confused for a moment, and it was only
by looking back to note the situation of the Arc that I could find my
avenue.

Like that of the Bois, it was deserted. Far down its length I saw a
solitary cab. As I guide-roped along it to my house at the corner of the
Rue Washington I thought of the time, sure to come, when the owners of
handy little air-ships will not be obliged to land in the street, but
will have their guide ropes caught by their domestics on their own roof
gardens. But such roof gardens must be broad and unencumbered.

So I reached my corner, to which I pointed my stem, and descended very
gently. Two servants caught, steadied, and held the air-ship, while I
mounted to my apartment for a cup of coffee. From my round bay window
at the corner I looked down upon the air-ship. Were I to receive the
municipal permission it would not be difficult to build an ornamental
landing-stage out from that window.

[Illustration: "No. 9." M. SANTOS-DUMONT LANDS AT HIS OWN DOOR]

Projects like these will constitute work for the future. Meanwhile the
aerial idea is making progress. A small boy of seven years of age has
mounted with me in the "No. 9," and a charming young lady has actually
navigated it alone for something like a mile. The boy will surely
make an air-ship captain if he gives his mind to it. The occasion was
the children's _fête_ at Bagatelle 26th June 1903. Descending among them
in the "No. 9," I asked:

"Does any little boy want to go up?"

Such were the confidence and courage of young France and America that
instantly I had to choose among a dozen volunteers. I took the nearest
to me.

"Are you not afraid?" I asked Clarkson Potter as the air-ship rose.

"Not a bit," he answered. The cruise of the "No. 9" on this occasion
was, naturally, a short one; but the other, in which the first woman to
mount, accompanied or unaccompanied, in any air-ship, actually mounted
alone and drove the "No. 9" free from all human contact with its guide
rope for a distance of considerably over a kilometre (half-mile), is
worthy of preservation in the annals of aerial navigation.

The heroine, a very beautiful young Cuban lady, well known in New
York society, having visited my station with her friends on several
occasions, confessed an extraordinary desire to navigate the air-ship.

"Would you have the courage to be taken up in the free air-ship with no
one holding its guide rope?" I asked. "Mademoiselle, I thank you for the
confidence."

"Oh, no," she said; "I do not want to be taken up. I want to go up alone
and navigate it freely, as you do."

I think that the simple fact that I consented on condition that she
would take a few lessons in the handling of the motor and machinery
speaks eloquently in favour of my own confidence in the "No. 9." She
had three such lessons, and then on 29th June 1903, a date that will be
memorable in the Fasti of dirigible ballooning, rising from my station
grounds in the smallest of possible dirigibles, she cried: "Let go all!"

From my station at Neuilly St James she guide-roped to Bagatelle. The
guide rope, trailing some 10 metres (30 feet), gave her an altitude and
equilibrium that never varied. I will not say that no one ran along
beside the dragging guide rope, but, certainly, no one touched it until
the termination of the cruise at Bagatelle, when the moment had arrived
to pull down the intrepid girl navigator.



CHAPTER XXIII

THE AIR-SHIP IN WAR


On Saturday morning, 11th July 1903, at about 10 A.M., the wind blowing
at the time in gusts, I accepted a wager to go to luncheon at the sylvan
restaurant of "The Cascade" in my little "No. 9" air-ship. While the
"No. 9," with its egg-shaped balloon, and motor of but 3 horse-power,
was not built for speed--or, what amounts to the same thing, for
battling with the wind--I thought that I could do it. Reaching my
station at Neuilly St James at about 11.30 A.M. I had the little craft
brought out and carefully weighed and balanced. It was in perfect
condition, having lost none of its gas from the previous day. At 11.50 I
started off. Fortunately, the wind came to me head-on as I steered for
"The Cascade." My progress was not rapid, but I, nevertheless, met my
friends on the lawn of that café-restaurant of the Bois de Boulogne at
12.30 noon. We took our luncheon, and I was preparing to depart when
began an adventure that may take me far.

As everybody knows, the restaurant of "The Cascade" is close to
Longchamps. While we lunched, officers of the French army engaged in
marking out the positions of the troops for the grand review of the 14th
of July observed the air-ship on the lawn and came to inspect it.

"Shall you come to the review in it?" they asked me. The year previous
there had been question of such a demonstration in presence of the army,
but I had hesitated for reasons that may be readily divined. After the
visit of the King of England I was asked on every hand why I had not
brought out the air-ship in his honour, and the same questions had
arisen in anticipation of the visit of the King of Italy, who had been
expected to be present at this review.

I answered the officers that I could not make up my mind; that I was not
sure how such an apparition would be viewed; and that my little "No.
9"--the only one of my fleet actually "in commission"--not being built
for battling with high winds I could not be sure to keep an engagement
in it.

[Illustration: "No. 9." OVER BOIS DE BOULOGNE]

"Come and choose a place to land," they said; "we will mark it out
for you in any case." And, as I continued to insist on my uncertainty
of being present, they very courteously picked out and marked a place
for me themselves, opposite the spot to be occupied by the President of
the Republic, in order that M. Loubet and his staff might have a perfect
view of the air-ship's evolutions.

"You will come if you can," the officers said. "You need not fear to
make such a provisional engagement, for you have already given your
proofs."

I hope I shall not be misunderstood when I say that it may be possible
that those superior officers did good work for their army and country
that morning--because, in order to begin, one must make a beginning--and
I should scarcely have ventured to the review without some kind of
invitation.

Venturing to the review, as I did in consequence, a whole train of
events followed.

In the early morning of 14th July 1903, as the "No. 9" was weighed and
balanced, I was nervous lest some unforeseen thing might happen to it
in my very grounds. One is often thus on great occasions, and I did not
seek to conceal it from myself that this--the first presentation of an
air-ship to any army--would be a great occasion.

On ordinary days I never hesitate to mount from my grounds, over the
stone wall and the river, and so on to Bagatelle. This morning I had the
"No. 9" towed to the railing of Bagatelle by means of its guide rope.

At 8.30 A.M. I called: "Let go all!" Rising, I found my level course at
an altitude of less than 100 metres (330 feet), and in a few moments was
circling and manoeuvring above the heads of the soldiers nearest to me.
Thence I passed over Longchamps, and arriving opposite the president I
fired a salute of twenty-one blank revolver cartridges.

I did not take the place marked out for me. Fearing to disturb the good
order of the review by prolonging an unusual sight I made my evolutions
in the presence of the army last, all told, less than ten minutes.
After this I steered for the polo grounds, where I was congratulated by
numbers of my friends.

[Illustration: "No. 9." AT MILITARY REVIEW, JULY 14, 1903]

These congratulations I found the next day repeated in the Paris
papers, together with conjectures of all kinds concerning the use of
the air-ship in war. The superior officers who came to me at "The
Cascade" that morning had said: "It is practical, and will have to be
taken account of in war."

"I am entirely at your service!" had been my answer at the time; and
now, under these influences, I sat down and wrote to the Minister of
War, offering, in case of hostilities with any country save those of
the two Americas, to put my aerial fleet at the disposition of the
Government of the Republic.

In doing this I merely put into formal written words the offer which
I certainly should feel bound to make in case of the breaking out of
such hostilities at any future time during my residence in France. It
is in France that I have met with all my encouragement; in France and
with French material I have made all my experiments; and the mass of
my friends are French. I excepted the two Americas because I am an
American, and I added that in the impossible case of a war between
France and Brazil I should feel bound to volunteer my services to the
land of my birth and citizenship.

A few days later I received the following letter from the French
Minister of War:--

        REPUBLIQUE FRANÇAISE,
        PARIS, _le 19 Juillet 1903_.

    MINISTERE DE LA GUERRE,
    CABINET DU MINISTRE.

    MONSIEUR,--During the Review of the Fourteenth of July, I
    had remarked and admired the ease and security with which the
    balloon you were steering made its evolutions. It was impossible
    not to acknowledge the progress which you have given to aerial
    navigation. It seems that, thanks to you, such navigation must,
    henceforward, lend itself to practical applications, especially
    from the military point of view.

    I consider that, in this respect, it may render very
    substantial services in time of war. I am very happy, therefore,
    to accept the offer which you make, of putting, in case of need,
    your aerial flotilla at the disposition of the Government of
    the Republic, and, in its name, I thank you for your gracious
    proposition, which shows your lively sympathy for France.

    I have appointed Chief of Battalion Hirschauer, commanding
    the Battalion of Balloonists in the First Regiment of Engineers,
    to examine, in agreement with you, the dispositions to take
    for putting the intentions you have manifested into execution.
    Lieutenant-Colonel Bourdeaux, Sous-Chef of my Cabinet, will also
    be associated with this superior officer, in order to keep me
    personally aware of the results of your joint labours.

    Recevez, Monsieur, les assurances de ma considération la
    plus distinguée.

        (Signed) General Andre.

    A Monsieur Alberto Santos-Dumont.

On Friday, 31st July 1903, Commandant Hirschauer and Lieutenant-Colonel
Bourdeaux spent the afternoon with me at my air-ship station at Neuilly
St James, where I had my three newest air-ships--the racing "No. 7,"
the omnibus "No. 10," and the runabout "No. 9"--ready for their study.
Briefly, I may say that the opinions expressed by the representatives
of the Minister of War were so unreservedly favourable that a practical
test of a novel character was decided to be made. Should the air-ship
chosen pass successfully through it the result will be conclusive of its
military value.

Now that these particular experiments are leaving my exclusively private
control I will say no more of them than what has been already published
in the French press. The test will probably consist of an attempt to
enter one of the French frontier towns, such as Belfort, or Nancy, on
the same day that the air-ship leaves Paris. It will not, of course, be
necessary to make the whole journey in the air-ship. A military railway
waggon may be assigned to carry it, with its balloon uninflated, with
tubes of hydrogen to fill it, and with all the necessary machinery and
instruments arranged beside it. At some station a short distance from
the town to be entered the waggon may be uncoupled from the train, and
a sufficient number of soldiers accompanying the officers will unload
the air-ship and its appliances, transport the whole to the nearest open
space, and at once begin inflating the balloon. Within two hours from
the time of quitting the train the air-ship may be ready for its flight
to the interior of the technically-besieged town.

Such may be the outline of the task--a task presented imperiously to
French balloonists by the events of 1870-1, and which all the devotion
and science of the Tissandier brothers failed to accomplish. To-day
the problem may be set with better hope of success. All the essential
difficulties may be revived by the marking out of a hostile zone around
the town that must be entered; from beyond the outer edge of this zone,
then, the air-ship will rise and take its flight--across it.

Will the air-ship be able to rise out of rifle range? I have always
been the first to insist that the normal place of the air-ship is
in low altitudes, and I shall have written this book to little
purpose if I have not shown the reader the real dangers attending any
_brusque_ vertical mounting to considerable heights. For this we have
the terrible Severo accident before our eyes. In particular, I have
expressed astonishment at hearing of experimenters rising to these
altitudes without adequate purpose in their early stages of experience
with dirigible balloons. All this is very different, however, from a
reasoned, cautious mounting, whose necessity has been foreseen and
prepared for.

To keep out of rifle range the air-ship will but seldom be obliged
to make these tremendous vertical leaps. Its navigator, even at a
moderate altitude, will enjoy a very extended view of the surrounding
country. Thus he will be able to perceive danger afar off, and take
his precautions. Even in my little "No. 9," which carries only 60
kilogrammes (132 lbs.) of ballast, I could rise, materially aided by my
shifting weights and propeller, to great heights. If I have not done so
it is because it would have served no useful purpose during a period of
pleasure navigation, while it would but have added danger to experiments
from which I have sought to eliminate all danger. Dangers like these are
to be accepted only when a good cause justifies them.

The experiments above named are, of course, of a nature interesting
warfare by land. I cannot abandon this topic, however, without
referring to one unique maritime advantage of the air-ship. This is
its navigator's ability to perceive bodies moving beneath the surface
of the water. Cruising at the end of its guide rope, the air-ship will
carry its navigator here and there at will at the right height above the
waves. Any submarine boat, stealthily pursuing its course underneath
them, will be beautifully visible to him, while from a warship's deck
it would be quite invisible. This is a well-observed fact, and depends
on certain optical laws. Thus, very curiously, the twentieth century
air-ship must become from the beginning the great enemy of that other
twentieth century marvel--the submarine boat--and not only its enemy
but its master. For, while the submarine boat can do no harm to the
air-ship, the latter, having twice its speed, can cruise about to find
it, follow all its movements, and signal them to the warships against
which it is moving. Indeed, it may be able to destroy the submarine boat
by sending down to it long arrows filled with dynamite, and capable of
penetrating to depths underneath the waves impossible to gunnery from
the decks of a warship.



CHAPTER XXIV

PARIS AS A CENTRE OF AIR-SHIP EXPERIMENTS


After leaving Monte Carlo, in February 1902, I received many invitations
from abroad to navigate my air-ships. In London, in particular, I was
received with great friendliness by the Aéro Club of Great Britain,
under whose auspices my "No. 6," fished from the bottom of the bay of
Monaco, repaired and once again inflated, was exhibited at the Crystal
Palace.

From St Louis, where the organisers of the Louisiana Purchase Centennial
Exposition had already decided to make air-ship flights a feature of
their World's Fair in 1904, I received an invitation to inspect the
grounds, suggest a course, and confer with them on conditions. As it was
officially announced that a sum of 200,000 dollars had been voted and
set apart for prizes it might be expected that the emulation of air-ship
experimenters would be well aroused.

Arriving at St Louis in the summer of 1902, I at once saw that the
splendid open spaces of the Exposition Grounds offered the best of
racecourses. The prevailing idea at that moment in the minds of some of
the authorities was to set a long course of many hundreds of miles--say,
from St Louis to Chicago. This, I pointed out, would be impracticable,
if only for the reason that the Exposition public would desire to see
the flights from start to finish. I suggested that three great towers or
flagstaffs be erected in the grounds at the corners of an equal-sided
triangle. The comparatively short course around them--between 10 and
20 miles--would afford a decisive test of dirigibility no matter in
what way the wind might blow; while as for speed, the necessary average
might be increased 50 per cent. over that fixed for the Deutsch prize
competition in Paris.

Such was my modest advice. I also thought that, out of the appropriation
of 200,000 dollars (1,000,000 francs), a grand prize for dirigible
aerostation of 100,000 dollars should be offered; only by means of such
an inducement, it seemed to me, could the necessary emulation among
air-ship experimenters be aroused.

While never seeking to make profit from my air-ships, I have always
offered to compete for prizes. While in London, and again in New
York, both before and after my St Louis visit, competitions with prize
sanctions were suggested to me for immediate effort. I accepted all
of them to this point, that I had my air-ships brought to the spot at
considerable cost and effort, and had the prize funds been deposited I
would have done my best to win them. Such deposits failing, I, in each
case, returned to my home in Paris to continue my experiments in my own
way, awaiting the great competition of St Louis.

Prize or no prize, I must work, and I shall always work in this my
chosen field of aerostation. For this my place is Paris, where the
public, in particular the kindly and enthusiastic populace, both knows
and trusts me. Here, in Paris, I go up for my own pleasure day by day,
as my reward for long and costly experiment.

In England and America it is quite different. When I take my air-ships
and my employees to those countries, build my own balloon house, furnish
my own gas plant, and risk breaking machines that cost more than any
automobile, I want it to be done with a settled aim.

I say that I want it to be done with a settled aim, so that, if I fulfil
the aim, I may no longer be criticised, at least on that particular
head. Otherwise I might go to the moon and back and yet accomplish
nothing in the estimation of my critics and--though, perhaps, to a less
extent--in the mind of the public which they sway.

Why have I sought to win prizes? Because the most rational consecration
of such effort and its fulfilment is found in a serious money prize. The
mind of the public makes the obvious connection. When a valuable prize
is handed over it concludes that something has been done to win it.

To win such prizes, then, I waited long in London and New York; but, as
they never passed from words to deeds, after having enjoyed myself very
thoroughly, both socially and as a tourist, I returned to my work and
pleasure in the Paris which I call my home.

And really, after all is said and done, there is no place like Paris for
air-ship experiments. Nowhere else can the experimenter depend on the
municipal and State authorities to be so liberal.

Take the development of automobilism as an example. It is universally
admitted, I imagine, that this great and peculiarly French industry
could not have developed without the speed licence which the French
authorities have wide-mindedly permitted. In spite of the most powerful
social and industrial influences, and in spite of it being England's
turn to offer hospitality to the James Gordon Bennett cup race of 1903,
the English automobilists were not allowed to put their splendid roads
out of the public use for its accommodation for a single day. So the
great event had to come off in Ireland.

In France, and in France only, are not only the authorities, but
the great mass of citizens, so much alive to their advantage in the
development of this national industry that, day by day, year in and year
out, they permit ten thousand automobiles to go tearing through the
highroads at a really dangerous speed. In Paris, in particular, one sees
a "scorching" average in its great Park and its very avenues and streets
that causes Londoners and tourists from New York to stand aghast.

In this same order of ideas I may here state that, in spite of the
tragic air-ship accidents of 1902, I have never once been limited or
in any way impeded in the course of my experiments by the Parisian
authorities; while as for the public, no matter where I land with an
air-ship--in the country roads of the suburbs, in private gardens,
even of great villas, in the avenues and parks and public places of the
capital--I meet with unvarying friendly aid, protection, and enthusiasm.

From that first memorable day when the big boys flying their kites
over Bagatelle seized my guide rope and saved me from an ugly fall as
promptly and intelligently as they had seized the idea of pulling me
against the wind, to the critical moment on that summer day in 1901
when, in my first trial for the Deutsch prize, I descended to repair my
rudder, and good-natured working-men found me a ladder in less time than
it takes me to write the words--and on down to the present moment, when
I take my pleasure in the Bois in my small "No. 9"--I have had nothing
but unvarying friendliness from the intelligent Parisian populace.

I need not say that it is a great thing for an air-ship experimenter
thus to have the confidence and friendly aid of a whole population. Over
certain European frontiers spherical balloons have even been shot at.
And I have often wondered what kind of a reception one of my air-ships
would meet with in the country districts of England itself.

For these reasons, and a hundred others, I consider that my air-ship's
home, like my own, is in Paris. As a boy, in Brazil, my heart turned
to the City of Light, above which in 1783 the first Montgolfier had
been sent up; where the first of the world's aeronauts had made his
first ascension; where the first hydrogen balloon had been set loose;
where first an air-ship had been made to navigate the air with its
steam-engine, screw propeller, and rudder.

As a youth I made my own first balloon ascension from Paris. In Paris I
have found balloon constructors, motor makers, and machinists possessed
not only of skill but of patience. In Paris I made all my first
experiments. In Paris I won the Deutsch prize in the first dirigible
to do a task against a time limit. And, now that I have not only what
I call my racing air-ship but a little "runabout," in which to take my
pleasure over the trees of the Bois, it is in Paris that I am enjoying
my reward in it as--what I was once called reproachfully--an "aerostatic
sportsman!"

[Illustration: "No. 9." SEEN FROM CAPTIVE BALLOON, JUNE 11, 1903]



CONCLUDING FABLE

MORE REASONING OF CHILDREN


During these years Luis and Pedro, the ingenious country boys whom we
found reasoning of mechanical inventions in the Introductory Fable of
this book, have spent some time in Paris. They were present at the
winning of the Deutsch prize of aerial navigation; they spent the winter
of 1901-2 at Monte Carlo; had good places at the review of the 14th July
1903; and have broadened their education by the sedulous reading of
scientific weeklies and the daily newspapers. Now they are preparing to
return to Brazil.

The other day, seated on a café terrace of the Bois de Boulogne, they
chatted of the problem of aerial navigation.

"These tentatives with dirigible balloons, so called, can bring us no
nearer to its solution," said Pedro. "Look you, they are filled with a
substance--hydrogen--fourteen times lighter than the medium in which it
floats--the atmosphere. It would be just as possible to force a tallow
candle through a brick wall!"

"Pedro," said Luis, "do you remember your objections to my waggon
wheels?"

....

"To the locomotive engine?"

....

"To the steamboat?"

"Our only hope to navigate the air," continued Pedro, "must, in the
nature of things, be found in devices heavier than the air--in flying
machines or aeroplanes. Reason by analogy. Look at the bird...."

"Once you desired me to look at the fish," said Luis. "You said the
steamboat ought to wriggle through the water...."

"Do be serious, Luis," said Pedro in conclusive tones. "Exercise
common-sense. Does man fly? No. Does the bird fly? Yes. Then, if man
would fly, let him imitate the bird. Nature has made the bird. Nature
never goes wrong."


       *       *       *       *       *


Transcriber's Notes:

Simple typographical errors were corrected.

Punctuation and spelling were made consistent when a predominant
preference was found in this book; otherwise they were not changed.





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