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172 AIRCRAFT rT.m

shreds of our insularity, and, in common with all
civilised nations, come to a better and franker
understanding with other countries. Aircraft
may unfortunately bring nations closer together,
for the purpose of waging war, if future wars
there must be ; but let us realise that although
aircraft can bring nations closer for warfare, it
will also serve far more effectively as a medium
to bind them immeasurably closer in times of
peace. Let us realise this emphatically, because
upon the universal appreciation of that possi-
bility alone depends the realisation of the
peaceful vista which it opens, and, therefore,
ultimately the further emancipation of the world.
Let us resolve when this War is over if it is
possible at the moment to envisage seriously a
thought of fraternal peace and its endurance
that the perfecting of aircraft -will, as far as
lies within our power, see a parallel im-
provement in the understanding and sympathy
between the civilised nations which share the
earth always assuming, of course, that we
prosecute the War to a successful consummation.
There will, let us hope, be a proper agitation
for a command of the air ; and, assuredly, very
necessary will it be for us to see that we always



CH.XH A NEW ERA 173

have the finest and most powerful air fleet.
But it would be an injustice to mankind to
contend that the air could not be shared amicably
and peaceably ; and it would be a crime not to
strive for that end. There is such an infinite
amount of room aloft that there is certainly
enough space not only to satisfy the needs of all,
but to enable every nation to move in sufficient
breathing space.

Finally, to quote Mr. Kipling's lines :

Oh, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain
shall meet

Till Earth and Sky stand presently a God's great Judg-
ment Seat ;

But there is neither East nor West, Border, nor Breed,
nor Birth,

When two strong men stand face to face, tho' they come
from the ends of the earth !

The significance of those lines, in relation to
the past condition of the world, is infinitely
profound. It is indeed true that, so self-centred
is each corner of the earth, that to-day it needs
some special distinguishing quality, some merit
such as strength of will, to be the common
attribute of men from strange lands in order to
overcome the usual ignorant prejudice and deep-
rooted racial mistrust between one nationality



174 AIKCEAFT p T .m

and another. To bind them to a close under-
standing still more is needed.

Mr. Kipling, to accentuate his argument,
takes East and West. But it is not necessary
to go to nearly such far extremes to find in-
tangible barriers not much less pronounced than
those which separate Orient from Occident.
Indeed, even within the bounds, of every con-
tinent, one might almost say, there are to be
found nations so utterly separated that they lack
all feeling for each other but that of blind
hatred ; or, perhaps, complete indifference.

Aviation can, and will, deliver us from much
of this stupid perversity. The conquest of the
air by man may prove an opportunity for
countries to co-operate, rather than compete
in the manner in which they have so inevitably
done in the past. After all, have we not over-
whelming proof of the good feeling which inter-
communication arouses when we regard our
relations with France, which in a few short
years became transformed from the result of a
liberal exchange of ideas and feelings ? And in
order to realise the full significance of this friend-
ship of ours with France, it is necessary to con-
template the essential difference in most ways



CH.XH A NEW EKA 175

between the English and the French tempera-
ment.

Perhaps it would be putting a too literal
meaning into Mr. Kipling's verse to say that
aircraft will enable the earth and sky, if not, in
his own words, to " stand at God's great Judg-
ment Seat," at least to stand, in a measure,
united for the first time in the history of the
world. At any rate, Mr. Kipling might possibly
allow that aircraft will in time enable earth and
sky to stand close enough together to fulfil the
conditions necessary for the breaking down of
the barrier between East and West.

With such a poignant incentive for ever
hidden somewhere in their minds, with such an
inspired vision for ever firing their imaginations,
can it be wondered that men, almost since time
immemorial, have given their lives, their work,
their all, to the cause of Flight ? Do not let us
forget that men have been trying to fly ever
since the time of Leonardo da Vinci, and that it
is only by infinite good luck that the problem
of mechanical flight just happened to be solved
in this century. So let us appreciate and make
the most of our good fortune.

Lastly, let us trust in the belief that the



176 AIRCRAFT pr.ni

pioneers of our own generation will continue to
progress for ever onwards, with, renewed con-
fidence and greater impulse, and that their
efforts will speedily lead to an absolute conquest
of the air. For the sympathy and co-operation
of the world they serve mean much to those
who strive along hidden paths.



THE END



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Online LibraryWilliam Alexander RobsonAircraft in war and peace → online text (page 9 of 9)