Historic UFOs - Trying To Solve
The Problem Of How Men
Will Fly Soon -1896
From Frank Warren

The Evening Bee Friday, November 20, 1896
Aerial Investigators Trying To Solve The Problem Of How Men Will Fly Soon
The fascination of the Art Outweighs the Dangers-Recent Experiments of Profs. Langley and Maxim.
With the death of Lilienthal, the mantle of the foremost aeronautical experimenter falls almost without dissent on Professor Samuel P. Langley, Secretary of the Smithsonian Institution, who is so reticent in regard to his achievements in this line that the general public knows little of them. It is over ten years ago that Professor Langley first interested himself in perfecting a flying machine, by which man could navigate the air. His work on his flying machine, or "bird," as the officials at the Smithsonian Institution call it, has been but an offshoot from his customary scientific experiments. It has been his hobby, but so much secrecy has attended the flights of this machine that but four or five scientists and several workmen are the only persons who have been allowed to see the strange object.
Professor Langley studied with great care the movements of turkey buzzards and sea gulls. From boyhood he had noticed turkey buzzards high in the air, floating with outspread wings, of which not a feather moved, going neither up nor down, upheld as if by some invisible force. And so when it came to devising a practical machine, his ruling principle was borrowed from the element itself. It was borrowed from the element itself. It was, however, impossible to imitate mechanically the construction of the wings of a bird, it was only the principle of the bird-soaring which was adopted.
He had industriously studied the problem until now he had constructed an aerodrome which, without the use of any gas, has made several flights of over a half a mile. Longer flights have been made except for the motive power, which at present is steam and has a limited power supply. Professor Langley thinks, however, that this is an obstacle which will be speedily overcome, and to this end has been experimenting with gas, gasoline and other motors for the purpose of getting an engine light enough and at the same time strong enough to do the work required of it, if necessary during a long period of time. Professor Langley's machine weighs complete about twenty-four pounds, and measures from tip to tip of one plane to the other fourteen feet. It is very simple in construction, there being no complicated machinery or anything like balloon or parachute attachments. Professor Langley's machine is only built for experimental purposes, and is not large enough to carry any weight beyond that of its motive power.
Professor Hiram Maxim is another American inventor who has gone seriously into the question of upper-air navigation. His experiments are being conducted in England, and he has succeeded in demonstrating on several occasions that his machine will rise and fly. He has spent a small fortune on his preparations for his experiments, which include an enormous house on his grounds for housing his machine and a railroad track for speeding it in its start for an aerial flight. The total weight of this machine ia about 7000 pounds, and he calculates that he can drive through the air at a speed of thirty-five miles per hour. Some time ago Mr. Maxim finished a machine in which he took a start of five or six hundred feet along his railroad track, put his propeller into operation, and succeeded in getting well up off the another machine constructed of strongering its construction broke and machine and hopes to the ground. Undismayed, he immediately commenced another machine constructed of a stronger material, and he confidently expects, in his next attempt to see a successful flight by a machine which will carry a man.
Senator Lodge of Massachusetts, in the last Congress, introduced a bill authorizing the Secretary of the Treasury to pay $100,000 to anybody who at anytime prior to 1901, should construct an apparatus within or near the city of Washington which would demonstrate to a committee appointed by the Secretary of War the practicability of safely navigating the air at not less than thirty miles an hour and capable of carrying passengers and freight weighing 400 pounds. The bill is still in committee, and, whether or not it will be withdrawn from that oblivion is a matter of conjecture. It is enough to say that should it be passed, an impetus would be given to aerial experiment which would most likely bring practical results.


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