Customer Reviews (1)
Fascinating, but Kindle edition is a mess.
It's 1910, only seven years after the Wright Brother's first flight, and excitement about "flying machines" is at such a high pitch that it seems profitable to publish a manual for the aspiring pilot.The authors, Jackman and Russell, don't seem to be particularly distinguished aviators on their own account, but they've managed to recruit the grand old man of aviation, Octave Chanute, to write their first chapter on the history of aviation, and another on the soaring flight of birds.
Of course, the first step for the eager pilot is to build yourself an airplane.Well, better start with a glider, as mastering the art of controlling that is the first step to flying, and, after all, a workable glider can be built along the lines described in the book for only $20. Once you've mastered flying that, it's time to build your "real flying machine."Unfortunately, the instructions get a bit more vague, because there isn't really that much agreement among aviation experts on which is the best configuration so you'll just have to try out whatever seems best to you, and the costs are also going to go up, $1000 for your basic airplane, $5000 for a really first class one.(All prices assume you are handy enough to do most of the construction yourself.)
On safety: "If your machine gets more than 30 feet hight, or comes closer to the ground than 6 feet, descend at once."
On the design of propellers: "Why should there be such a marked difference in the results obtained?Who knows?"
Anyway, this is a delightful look at a past age of flight, when aviation was more of a hobby than an industry. It's a lovely mix-up of detailed engineering advice, mild goofiness, and problems we hadn't really thought about for a while, like whether or not it is a violation of a person's property rights to fly a plane over their land (the authors say it is) and the difficulty of catching such trespassers.
The later chapters seem to be a hodge-podge of random topic and updates, as so much new stuff was being invented even as the book was being written. The books starts by saying: "In the opinion of competent experts it is idle to look for a commercial future for the flying machine."But by the later chapters they are saying: "As a commercial proposition the manufacture and sale of motor-equipped aeroplanes is making much more rapid advance than at first obtained in the similar handling of the automobile."
The Kindle edition is, alas, rendered largely useless by the omission of all the hundreds of diagrams and tables in the original. How can we fully enjoy this book without seeing the side by side comparison of the skeleton of a man to the skeleton of a bird, pointing out their "striking similarity?" I also have the impression that some of the text is missing.There is a scanned version available on the Google Books website, that is much more satisfactory in this regard. Someone should really reprint this.
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