William James Jackman.

Flying Machines: construction and operation; a practical book which shows, in illustrations, working plans and text, how to build and navigate the modern airship online

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Produced by Charles Keller


By W.J. Jackman and Thos. H. Russell

A Practical Book Which Shows, in Illustrations, Working Plans and Text,
How to Build and Navigate the Modern Airship.

W.J. JACKMAN, M.E., Author of "A B C of the Motorcycle," "Facts for
Motorists," etc. etc.


THOS. H. RUSSELL, A.M., M.E., Charter Member of the Aero Club of
Illinois, Author of "History of the Automobile," "Motor Boats:
Construction and Operation," etc. etc.

With Introductory Chapter By Octave Chanute, C.E., President Aero Club
of Illinois



This book is written for the guidance of the novice in aviation - the
man who seeks practical information as to the theory, construction and
operation of the modern flying machine. With this object in view the
wording is intentionally plain and non-technical. It contains some
propositions which, so far as satisfying the experts is concerned, might
doubtless be better stated in technical terms, but this would defeat the
main purpose of its preparation. Consequently, while fully aware of its
shortcomings in this respect, the authors have no apologies to make.

In the stating of a technical proposition so it may be clearly
understood by people not versed in technical matters it becomes
absolutely necessary to use language much different from that which an
expert would employ, and this has been done in this volume.

No man of ordinary intelligence can read this book without obtaining
a clear, comprehensive knowledge of flying machine construction and
operation. He will learn, not only how to build, equip, and manipulate
an aeroplane in actual flight, but will also gain a thorough
understanding of the principle upon which the suspension in the air of
an object much heavier than the air is made possible.

This latter feature should make the book of interest even to those who
have no intention of constructing or operating a flying machine. It will
enable them to better understand and appreciate the performances of the
daring men like the Wright brothers, Curtiss, Bleriot, Farman, Paulhan,
Latham, and others, whose bold experiments have made aviation an

For those who wish to engage in the fascinating pastime of construction
and operation it is intended as a reliable, practical guide.

It may be well to explain that the sub-headings in the articles by Mr.
Chanute were inserted by the authors without his knowledge. The purpose
of this was merely to preserve uniformity in the typography of the book.
This explanation is made in justice to Mr. Chanute.



Octave Chanute, "the father of the modern flying machine," died at his
home in Chicago on November 23, 1910, at the age of 72 years. His last
work in the interest of aviation was to furnish the introductory chapter
to the first edition of this volume, and to render valuable assistance
in the handling of the various subjects. He even made the trip from his
home to the office of the publishers one inclement day last spring,
to look over the proofs of the book and, at his suggestion, several
important changes were made. All this was "a labor of love" on Mr.
Chanute's part. He gave of his time and talents freely because he was
enthusiastic in the cause of aviation, and because he knew the authors
of this book and desired to give them material aid in the preparation of
the work - a favor that was most sincerely appreciated.

The authors desire to make acknowledgment of many courtesies in the way
of valuable advice, information, etc., extended by Mr. Octave Chanute,
C. E., Mr. E. L. Jones, Editor of Aeronautics, and the publishers of,
the New England Automobile Journal and Fly.



I. Evolution of the Two-Surface Flying Machine
Introductory Chapter by Octave Chanute, C. E.
II. Theory Development and Use
Origin of the Aeroplane - Developments by Chanute
and the Wrights - Practical Uses and Limits.
III. Mechanical Bird Action
What the Motor Does - Puzzle in Bird Soaring.
IV. Various Forms of Flying Machines
Helicopters, Ornithopters and Aeroplanes -
Monoplanes, Biplanes and Triplanes.
V. Constructing a Gliding Machine
Plans and Materials Required - Estimate of Cost -
Sizes and Preparation of Various Parts - Putting the
Parts Together
VI. Learning to Fly
How to Use the Glider - Effect of Body Movements
- Rules for Beginners - Safest Place to Glide.
VII. Putting On the Rudder
Its Construction, Application and Use.
VIII. The Real Flying Machine
Surface Area Required - Proper Size of Frame and
Auxiliaries - Installation of Motor - Cost of
Constructing Machine.
IX. Selection of the Motor
Essential Features - Multiplicity of Cylinders - Power
Required - Kind and Action of Propellers - Placing
of the Motor
X. Proper Dimensions of Machines
Figuring Out the Details - How to Estimate Load
Capacity - Distribution of the Weight - Measurements
of Leading Machines.
XI. Plane and Rudder Control
Various Methods in Use - Wheels and Hand and
Foot Levers
XII. How to Use the Machine
Rules of Leading Aviators - Rising from the Ground
- Reasonable Altitude - Preserving Equilibrium -
Learning to Steer.
XIII. Peculiarities of Aeroplane Power
Pressure of the Wind - How to Determine Upon
Power - Why Speed Is Required - Bird find Flying
Machine Areas.
XIV. About Wind Currents, Etc.
Uncertainty of Direct Force - Trouble With Gusty
Currents - Why Bird Action Is Imitated.
XV. The Element of Danger
Risk Small Under Proper Conditions - Two Fields
of Safety - Lessons in Recent Accidents.
XVI. Radical Changes Being Made
Results of Recent Experiments - New Dimensions
- Increased Speed - The One Governing Rule.
XVII. Some of the New Designs
Automatic Control of Plane Stability - Inventor
Herring's Devices - Novel Ideas of Students.
XVIII. Demand for Flying Machines
Wonderful Results in a Year - Factories Over-
crowded with Orders.
XIX. Law of the Airship
Rights of Property Owners - Some Legal
Peculiarities - Danger of Trespass.
XX. Soaring Flight
XXI. Flying Machines vs. Balloons
XXII. Problems of Aerial Flight
XXIII. Amateurs May Use Wright Patents
XXIV. Hints on Propeller Construction
XXV. New Motors and Devices
XXVI. Monoplanes, Triplanes, Multiplanes
XXVII. Records of Various Kinds



By Octave Chanute.

I am asked to set forth the development of the "two-surface" type of
flying machine which is now used with modifications by Wright Brothers,
Farman, [1] Delagrange, Herring and others.

This type originated with Mr. F. H. Wenham, who patented it in
England in 1866 (No. 1571), taking out provisional papers only. In the
abridgment of British patent Aeronautical Specifications (1893) it is
described as follows:

"Two or more aeroplanes are arranged one above the other, and support a
framework or car containing the motive power. The aeroplanes are made of
silk or canvas stretched on a frame by wooden rods or steel ribs. When
manual power is employed the body is placed horizontally, and oars or
propellers are actuated by the arms or legs.

"A start may be obtained by lowering the legs and running down hill or
the machine may be started from a moving carriage. One or more screw
propellers may be applied for propelling when steam power is employed."

On June 27, 1866, Mr. Wenham read before the "Aeronautical Society of
Great Britain," then recently organized, the ablest paper ever presented
to that society, and thereby breathed into it a spirit which has
continued to this day. In this paper he described his observations of
birds, discussed the laws governing flight as to the surfaces and power
required both with wings and screws, and he then gave an account of his
own experiments with models and with aeroplanes of sufficient size to
carry the weight of a man.

Second Wenham Aeroplane.

His second aeroplane was sixteen feet from tip to tip. A trussed spar at
the bottom carried six superposed bands of thin holland fabric fifteen
inches wide, connected with vertical webs of holland two feet apart,
thus virtually giving a length of wing of ninety-six feet and one
hundred and twenty square feet of supporting surface. The man was placed
horizontally on a base board beneath the spar. This apparatus when tried
in the wind was found to be unmanageable by reason of the fluttering
motions of the fabric, which was insufficiently stiffened with crinoline
steel, but Mr. Wenham pointed out that this in no way invalidated
the principle of the apparatus, which was to obtain large supporting
surfaces without increasing unduly the leverage and consequent weight of
spar required, by simply superposing the surfaces.

This principle is entirely sound and it is surprising that it is,
to this day, not realized by those aviators who are hankering for

Experiments by Stringfellow.

The next man to test an apparatus with superposed surfaces was Mr.
Stringfellow, who, becoming much impressed with Mr. Wenham's proposal,
produced a largish model at the exhibition of the Aeronautical Society
in 1868. It consisted of three superposed surfaces aggregating 28 square
feet and a tail of 8 square feet more. The weight was under 12 pounds
and it was driven by a central propeller actuated by a steam engine
overestimated at one-third of a horsepower. It ran suspended to a wire
on its trials but failed of free flight, in consequence of defective
equilibrium. This apparatus has since been rebuilt and is now in the
National Museum of the Smithsonian Institution at Washington. Linfield's
Unsuccessful Efforts.

In 1878 Mr. Linfield tested an apparatus in England consisting of a
cigar-shaped car, to which was attached on each side frames five feet
square, containing each twenty-five superposed planes of stretched and
varnished linen eighteen inches wide, and only two inches apart, thus
reminding one of a Spanish donkey with panniers. The whole weighed two
hundred and forty pounds. This was tested by being mounted on a flat car
behind a locomotive going 40 miles an hour. When towed by a line fifteen
feet long the apparatus rose only a little from the car and exhibited
such unstable equilibrium that the experiment was not renewed. The lift
was only about one-third of what it would have been had the planes been
properly spaced, say their full width apart, instead of one-ninth as
erroneously devised.

Renard's "Dirigible Parachute."

In 1889 Commandant Renard, the eminent superintendent of the French
Aeronautical Department, exhibited at the Paris Exposition of that year,
an apparatus experimented with some years before, which he termed a
"dirigible parachute." It consisted of an oviform body to which were
pivoted two upright slats carrying above the body nine long superposed
flat blades spaced about one-third of their width apart. When this
apparatus was properly set at an angle to the longitudinal axis of the
body and dropped from a balloon, it travelled back against the wind for
a considerable distance before alighting. The course could be varied
by a rudder. No practical application seems to have been made of this
device by the French War Department, but Mr. J. P. Holland, the
inventor of the submarine boat which bears his name, proposed in 1893
an arrangement of pivoted framework attached to the body of a flying
machine which combines the principle of Commandant Renard with the
curved blades experimented with by Mr. Phillips, now to be noticed, with
the addition of lifting screws inserted among the blades.

Phillips Fails on Stability Problem.

In 1893 Mr. Horatio Phillips, of England, after some very interesting
experiments with various wing sections, from which he deduced
conclusions as to the shape of maximum lift, tested an apparatus
resembling a Venetian blind which consisted of fifty wooden slats of
peculiar shape, 22 feet long, one and a half inches wide, and two inches
apart, set in ten vertical upright boards. All this was carried upon a
body provided with three wheels. It weighed 420 pounds and was driven
at 40 miles an hour on a wooden sidewalk by a steam engine of nine
horsepower which actuated a two-bladed screw. The lift was satisfactory,
being perhaps 70 pounds per horsepower, but the equilibrium was quite
bad and the experiments were discontinued. They were taken up again in
1904 with a similar apparatus large enough to carry a passenger, but the
longitudinal equilibrium was found to be defective. Then in 1907 a new
machine was tested, in which four sets of frames, carrying similar
sets of slat "sustainers" were inserted, and with this arrangement the
longitudinal stability was found to be very satisfactory. The whole
apparatus, with the operator, weighed 650 pounds. It flew about 200
yards when driven by a motor of 20 to 22 h.p. at 30 miles an hour,
thus exhibiting a lift of about 32 pounds per h.p., while it will be
remembered that the aeroplane of Wright Brothers exhibits a lifting
capacity of 50 pounds to the h.p.

Hargrave's Kite Experiments.

After experimenting with very many models and building no less than
eighteen monoplane flying model machines, actuated by rubber, by
compressed air and by steam, Mr. Lawrence Hargrave, of Sydney, New South
Wales, invented the cellular kite which bears his name and made it known
in a paper contributed to the Chicago Conference on Aerial Navigation
in 1893, describing several varieties. The modern construction is well
known, and consists of two cells, each of superposed surfaces with
vertical side fins, placed one behind the other and connected by a
rod or frame. This flies with great steadiness without a tail. Mr.
Hargrave's idea was to use a team of these kites, below which he
proposed to suspend a motor and propeller from which a line would be
carried to an anchor in the ground. Then by actuating the propeller the
whole apparatus would move forward, pick up the anchor and fly away. He
said: "The next step is clear enough, namely, that a flying machine with
acres of surface can be safely got under way or anchored and hauled to
the ground by means of the string of kites."

The first tentative experiments did not result well and emphasized the
necessity for a light motor, so that Mr. Hargrave has since been engaged
in developing one, not having convenient access to those which have been
produced by the automobile designers and builders.

Experiments With Glider Model.

And here a curious reminiscence may be indulged in. In 1888 the present
writer experimented with a two-cell gliding model, precisely similar to
a Hargrave kite, as will be confirmed by Mr. Herring. It was frequently
tested by launching from the top of a three-story house and glided
downward very steadily in all sorts of breezes, but the angle of descent
was much steeper than that of birds, and the weight sustained per square
foot was less than with single cells, in consequence of the lesser
support afforded by the rear cell, which operated upon air already set
in motion downward by the front cell, so nothing more was done with
it, for it never occurred to the writer to try it as a kite and he thus
missed the distinction which attaches to Hargrave's name.

Sir Hiram Maxim also introduced fore and aft superposed surfaces in his
wondrous flying machine of 1893, but he relied chiefly for the lift upon
his main large surface and this necessitated so many guys, to prevent
distortion, as greatly to increase the head resistance and this,
together with the unstable equilibrium, made it evident that the design
of the machine would have to be changed.

How Lilienthal Was Killed.

In 1895, Otto Lilienthal, the father of modern aviation, the man to
whose method of experimenting almost all present successes are due,
after making something like two thousand glides with monoplanes, added
a superposed surface to his apparatus and found the control of it much
improved. The two surfaces were kept apart by two struts or vertical
posts with a few guy wires, but the connecting joints were weak and
there was nothing like trussing. This eventually cost his most useful
life. Two weeks before that distressing loss to science, Herr Wilhelm
Kress, the distinguished and veteran aviator of Vienna, witnessed a
number of glides by Lilienthal with his double-decked apparatus. He
noticed that it was much wracked and wobbly and wrote to me after the
accident: "The connection of the wings and the steering arrangement were
very bad and unreliable. I warned Herr Lilienthal very seriously. He
promised me that he would soon put it in order, but I fear that he did
not attend to it immediately."

In point of fact, Lilienthal had built a new machine, upon a different
principle, from which he expected great results, and intended to make
but very few more flights with the old apparatus. He unwisely made one
too many and, like Pilcher, was the victim of a distorted apparatus.
Probably one of the joints of the struts gave way, the upper surface
blew back and Lilienthal, who was well forward on the lower surface, was
pitched headlong to destruction.

Experiments by the Writer.

In 1896, assisted by Mr. Herring and Mr. Avery, I experimented with
several full sized gliding machines, carrying a man. The first was a
Lilienthal monoplane which was deemed so cranky that it was discarded
after making about one hundred glides, six weeks before Lilienthal's
accident. The second was known as the multiple winged machine and
finally developed into five pairs of pivoted wings, trussed together at
the front and one pair in the rear. It glided at angles of descent of 10
or 11 degrees or of one in five, and this was deemed too steep. Then
Mr. Herring and myself made computations to analyze the resistances. We
attributed much of them to the five front spars of the wings and on
a sheet of cross-barred paper I at once drew the design for a new
three-decked machine to be built by Mr. Herring.

Being a builder of bridges, I trussed these surfaces together, in order
to obtain strength and stiffness. When tested in gliding flight the
lower surface was found too near the ground. It was taken off and the
remaining apparatus now consisted of two surfaces connected together
by a girder composed of vertical posts and diagonal ties, specifically
known as a "Pratt truss." Then Mr. Herring and Mr. Avery together
devised and put on an elastic attachment to the tail. This machine
proved a success, it being safe and manageable. Over 700 glides were
made with it at angles of descent of 8 to 10 degrees, or one in six to
one in seven.

First Proposed by Wenham.

The elastic tail attachment and the trussing of the connecting frame of
the superposed wings were the only novelties in this machine, for the
superposing of the surfaces had first been proposed by Wenham, but in
accordance with the popular perception, which bestows all the credit
upon the man who adds the last touch making for success to the labors
of his predecessors, the machine has since been known by many persons as
the "Chanute type" of gliders, much to my personal gratification.

It has since been improved in many ways. Wright Brothers, disregarding
the fashion which prevails among birds, have placed the tail in front
of their apparatus and called it a front rudder, besides placing the
operator in horizontal position instead of upright, as I did; and also
providing a method of warping the wings to preserve equilibrium. Farman
and Delagrange, under the very able guidance and constructive work of
Voisin brothers, then substituted many details, including a box tail for
the dart-like tail which I used. This may have increased the resistance,
but it adds to the steadiness. Now the tendency in France seems to be to
go back to the monoplane.

Monoplane Idea Wrong.

The advocates of the single supporting surface are probably mistaken. It
is true that a single surface shows a greater lift per square foot than
superposed surfaces for a given speed, but the increased weight due to
leverage more than counterbalances this advantage by requiring heavy
spars and some guys. I believe that the future aeroplane dynamic flier
will consist of superposed surfaces, and, now that it has been found
that by imbedding suitably shaped spars in the cloth the head resistance
may be much diminished, I see few objections to superposing three, four
or even five surfaces properly trussed, and thus obtaining a compact,
handy, manageable and comparatively light apparatus. [2]


While every craft that navigates the air is an airship, all airships are
not flying machines. The balloon, for instance, is an airship, but it is
not what is known among aviators as a flying machine. This latter term
is properly used only in referring to heavier-than-air machines which
have no gas-bag lifting devices, and are made to really fly by the
application of engine propulsion.

Mechanical Birds.

All successful flying machines - and there are a number of them - are
based on bird action. The various designers have studied bird flight
and soaring, mastered its technique as devised by Nature, and the modern
flying machine is the result. On an exaggerated, enlarged scale the
machines which are now navigating the air are nothing more nor less than
mechanical birds.

Origin of the Aeroplane.

Octave Chanute, of Chicago, may well be called "the developer of the
flying machine." Leaving balloons and various forms of gas-bags out
of consideration, other experimenters, notably Langley and Lilienthal,
antedated him in attempting the navigation of the air on aeroplanes,
or flying machines, but none of them were wholly successful, and it
remained for Chanute to demonstrate the practicability of what was then
called the gliding machine. This term was adopted because the apparatus
was, as the name implies, simply a gliding machine, being without motor
propulsion, and intended solely to solve the problem of the best form of
construction. The biplane, used by Chanute in 1896, is still the basis
of most successful flying machines, the only radical difference being
that motors, rudders, etc., have been added.

Character of Chanute's Experiments.

It was the privilege of the author of this book to be Mr. Chanute's
guest at Millers, Indiana, in 1896, when, in collaboration with Messrs.
Herring and Avery, he was conducting the series of experiments which
have since made possible the construction of the modern flying machine
which such successful aviators as the Wright brothers and others are
now using. It was a wild country, much frequented by eagles, hawks, and
similar birds. The enthusiastic trio, Chanute, Herring and Avery, would
watch for hours the evolutions of some big bird in the air, agreeing
in the end on the verdict, "When we master the principle of that bird's
soaring without wing action, we will have come close to solving the
problem of the flying machine."

Aeroplanes of various forms were constructed by Mr. Chanute with the
assistance of Messrs. Herring and Avery until, at the time of the
writer's visit, they had settled upon the biplane, or two-surface
machine. Mr. Herring later equipped this with a rudder, and made other
additions, but the general idea is still the basis of the Wright,
Curtiss, and other machines in which, by the aid of gasolene motors,
long flights have been made.

Developments by the Wrights.

In 1900 the Wright brothers, William and Orville, who were then in
the bicycle business in Dayton, Ohio, became interested in Chanute's
experiments and communicated with him. The result was that the Wrights
took up Chanute's ideas and developed them further, making many
additions of their own, one of which was the placing of a rudder in
front, and the location of the operator horizontally on the machine,
thus diminishing by four-fifths the wind resistance of the man's
body. For three years the Wrights experimented with the glider before

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Online LibraryWilliam James JackmanFlying Machines: construction and operation; a practical book which shows, in illustrations, working plans and text, how to build and navigate the modern airship → online text (page 1 of 13)