Page images
PDF
EPUB
[graphic][merged small]

to be another case of pretension, and little dreamed of the triumph these men were destined to attain.

But while the public continued in its skeptical comments, and the World's Fair management had almost lost hope over its former disappointment, and while the press filled its columns with reports of the other exhibits of the Fair, paying little attention to the aëronautic concourse, the work of preparing the Arrow for its flight progressed steadily and surely. Curious crowds would peep in and utter contemptuous remarks about the big balloon now being cradled in its wooden trestles, and they would smile derisively at the slender, youthful Ohioan. The airship they were working on was far less imposing than the ill-starred Santos Dumont machine.

The big gas bag is made of closely woven

silk, varnished, and has a capacity of 8,000 cubic feet. It is said to have a lifting power of 1,135 pounds. The frame in which the daring little aëronaut rides is hitched to the bag by cotton cords. This is built of spruce, and

[graphic]

PROPELLER OF BALDWIN AIRSHIP. Mr. Baldwin standing in front of prow.

[graphic]

BALDWIN AIRSHIP ARROW, WHICH SUCCESSFULLY DEMONSTRATED ITS DIRIGIBILITY AT THE WORLD'S FAIR, OCTOBER 31.

Showing network of cotton cords by which gas bag is held to frame. One of the two propeller blades, located at the prow, may be seen above the heads of the spectators at the right. The rudder, at the stern, is seen at the left. Knabenshue, the aeronaut, is standing in the frame.

is merely a skeleton, bolted and braced with steel wires in such a way that strains all come as a pull on the fine wire. This permits an extremely light construction, the exact weight being but 520 pounds. It somewhat resembles the bridge trestle or the laced bicycle wheel. There is no basket or carriage. The seat for the aëronaut consists of a four-inch pine board near the stern. The motor, which was taken from an automobile, is situated forward of the middle; at a point where it exactly counterbalances the weight of the aëronaut when on his seat. It is of the 2-cylinder 2-cycle type, capable of developing 7 horse-power; is operated by gasoline from a small storage tank near the top of the craft; and is air-cooled. The propeller blades are in the bow, and are geared to the main shaft of the motor. They are also built of spruce in skeleton

A. ROY KNABENSHUE, OF TOLEDO, OHIO, SUCCESSFUL OPERATOR OF THE BALDWIN AIRSHIP.

Born in Lancaster, Ohio, July 15, 1875. Has experimented with balloons for years; and after visiting the World's Fair, became a partner in the Baldwin enterprise. His brother also is an experienced aeronaut.

form, the main body being of varnished cloth. Each blade is 42 feet long and 11⁄2 feet wide. In descending, only a small portion of gas is allowed to escape. The aëronaut throws his weight forward,

[merged small][graphic]
[graphic]

DIPPING THE PROW OF THE AIRSHIP TO DESCEND. The operator accomplishes this by throwing weight of his body forward.

was made to fly the machine, but it met with only partial success and attracted but little attention. It was Knabenshue's first attempt at sailing an airship; and while the Fair management seemed discouraged, Knabenshue was now confident. He had taken his first lesson and had learned the "how" of the new art.

Momentous Day Arrives

October 31 arrives. This is the momentous day Baldwin and Knabenshue had announced as the one on which they would surely make the airship fly. As a result of this announcement and the partial success of the previous experiment, the spectators are more numerous and somewhat more curious than before. They gather around the Stadium, and see the big gas bag inflated until it seems

THOMAS S. BALDWIN, OF SAN FRANCISCO, CAL. Designer and Constructor of the "Arrow."

restless and anxious to begin its upward flight. In the meantime, Baldwin, as his own navigator, had attempted to sail the machine and had failed. Knabenshue now seats himself on the narrow wooden seat. He tests the engine and tries the steering apparatus.

"Let her go!" he shouts. Baldwin orders the guy ropes cut. Like a racehorse when the line is lowered, the airship plunges forward. It rises above the heads of the crowd, its prow toward the west. Knabenshue turns the rudder; and the craft, answering to its helm, turns toward the south. It is going fast, and is flying too low to clear the fence which it is rapidly nearing. The people hold their breath. "It will be dashed to pieces!" they exclaim. Knabenshue again adjusts the propeller. The balloon now

points its nose upward, and Knabenshue tips his hat to the wildly yelling crowd as the ship lightly clears the Stadium wall and continues its flight onward and upward. Higher and higher it sailseasily, majestically. All the Fair grounds are in a wild turmoil of hurrying, applauding people. They rush from the main buildings and the Pike and the State buildings, out into the plazas and avenues. They run to follow the flight of the ship, which wheels and turns in air as gracefully as a sea gull. Knabenshue waves his hat at the throngs below; and they in response send up to greet him a mighty din of cheers, such as the World's Fair has never heard before. Still higher and higher he soars, the people's cheers becoming fainter and fainter, until at length he is beyond the hearing of them, and he sails in the quiet and peaceful ethereal regions between earth and sky which it has been the happiness. of few men to invade. Two thousand feet above earth he soars. The people below look to him like moping insects, while his ship to them resembles a huge bird without wings. The report has reached the city, and people rush to their porches and into the streets, and climb to the roofs of their homes and to the top of the sky-scrapers to see.

Knabenshue sails first to the northeast

[graphic]
[graphic][merged small]
[graphic]

and then to the southeast, now making complete turns in his flight, now describing the letter S. He continues in a generally easterly direction until over the Cascades, which are in the center of the Fair grounds and one and a-half miles in a direct line from the point of starting. Now the barely perceptible breeze that had been blowing from the northwest has increased to eight miles an hour. Knabenshue must breast the wind to return. He tries to turn the airship from before the wind, without success. Will he fail and be wafted on into space? Several times he attempts to turn to the left. Suddenly he swings the rudder sharply in the other direction. The Arrow comes into the wind, staggers a moment, and then, gaining power, comes toward the concourse at a speed that brings new roars of cheering. Without deviation the craft continues in the teeth of the wind, and even gains speed. It has approached to within a few hundred yards of the concourse. Knabenshue moves forward, and the Arrow responds immediately to the downward shift. It sails toward the grounds without diminishing its speed. It is now but 200 feet above the crowd, and the aëronaut again comes into the atmosphere vibrating with the cheers of the multitude. Knabenshue slows the Arrow's speed, and sends the craft directly over the wooden trestles that had supported it before its flight. He misses the trestles, and the airship settles gracefully to the ground within 100 feet from where it had started. The crowds press around, and lifting Knabenshue to their shoulders, carry him about in triumph.

Knabenshue's trip covered 31⁄2 miles, not including short circles, in twentyeight minutes; and for nearly half the time the machine had advanced steadily against the eight-mile breeze, at a height of 2,000 feet.

[blocks in formation]
« PreviousContinue »