By C J Norman
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Was there no way of guiding these ships in the air, as a ship in the ocean is guided? The young soldier was hardly home from the war when he began to study the problem. He studied it indeed so much to the exclusion of other military matters that in 1890 the General Staff abruptly dismissed him from his command. They saw no reason why a major-general of cavalry should be mooning around with balloons and kites like a schoolboy. The dismissal hurt him, but deterred him in no way from the purpose of his life.
The test was made on October 1, 1901. The aeronaut had rounded the Tower finely and was making for home when the motor began to miss and threatened to stop altogether. While Santos-Dumont was tinkering with the engine, leaving the steering wheel to itself, the balloon drifted over the Bois de Boulogne. As usual the cool air from the wood caused the hydrogen in the balloon to contract and the craft dropped until it appeared the voyage would end in the tree tops. Hastily shifting his weights the aeronaut forced the prow of the ship upwards to a sharp angle with the earth.
Which had a capacity of eighty thousand cubic feet—about ten times the size of the little runabout with which he played pranks in Paris streets. In this balloon he placed partitions to prevent the gas shifting to one part of the envelope, and to guard against losing it all in the event of a tear. The (p. 054) same principle was fundamental in Count Zeppelin's airships. In 1904 he brought a dirigible to the United States expecting to compete for a prize at the St. Louis Exposition. But while suffering exasperating delay from the red-tape which enveloped the exposition authorities, he discovered one morning that his craft had been mutilated almost beyond repair in its storage place.
Aircraft carriers by C J Norman