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From ‘The Western Daily Mercury’- 17th July 1878

The British Aeronautical Society is rather looked down upon by the other learned societies, although its number in its ranks some of the most intelligent members of the community. The question, Can man fly? Must be answered in the negative at present; but, despite sundry fiasco of over-confident inventors, there is some reason to believe in the possibility of devising means whereby a man may elevate himself above the earth, and practically fly to some more or less distant spot, although it may not be the exact spot he wished to reach. Working steadily at the project, Mr. Brearey, the hon-sec. Of the society named, has already demonstrated by models the feasibility of flying-machines; and, if we may believe the news recently received from America, the problem is rapidly approaching solution. A public exhibition of the capabilities of a flying machine was given on June 12 at Hartford, Connecticut, by Professor C. F. Mitchell, and, considering the difficulty and the assumed impossibility of the feat, the exhibition was decidedly a success. Mr. Mitchell has been working at the problem for some years, in company with Mr. W. H. Lyman, and whether from a knowledge of the experiments undertaken by the British Aeronautical Society, or from principles discovered by himself, has followed the direction pointed out by the labours of those who have in this country interested themselves in the subject. The lifting power of his machine is obtained from a horizontal cylinder of “gossamer cloth” (fine linen coated with India rubber) 25 ft, long by 13 ft. in diameter, weighing only 66 lb. A network of broad worsted bands encloses the cylinder, and is connected to a strong brass tube 1˝” in diameter and 23 ft. long, to which the flying machine proper is attached. The latter consist of an arrangement of hollow brass rods, very light and strong, which carries the gearing and a four-bladed fan or screw propeller, which can be rotated at the rate of 2,000 revolutions per minute. This fan or propeller is 24” in diameter, each blade having an area of about 50 square inches. It is worked by treadles from a small seat, and attached to the same gearing is another, a vertical fan, 22” in diameter, which can be operated or not at pleasure. All movements are under perfect control, the action of the horizontal fan being reversed by the feet, which also control the motion of the vertical propeller. The weight of the flying machine is less than 50 lb; and the total weight of the apparatus is little more than 112 lb. The “gossamer cloth” cylinder is, of course, filled with hydrogen gas as pure as can be made from iron turnings and dilute sulphuric acid, and is of sufficient capacity to render it necessary to carry a few pounds of ballast with the operator who has hitherto exhibited the capabilities of the machine, and who on the days of trail weighed 96 lb. When ready to start the machine is so floatable that the touch of a finger is sufficient to keep it on the ground, while the working of the fan sends it up in an almost vertical direction at once. On June 12, then, with but little wind blowing, the flying machine rose quickly to an altitude of 250 feet, or thereabouts, and sailed over quickly over the Connecticut River. A breeze springing up, however, gave the aeronaut the desired opportunity, and turning his machine in the face of the wind, he worked his way back, and alighted within a few yards of the place whence he started. Another ascent was made on the following day, when the wind was blowing in gusts. The aeronaut again rose almost vertically for 200 feet, and then met with a strong current of air which compelled him to use his vertical propeller, and which took him rapidly away from the point of ascent. By tacking, and working the fans against the wind, he was enabled to so far recover his position that he landed near Hartford, and declared that the work was so easy he could continue it for any reasonable time without fatigue. It seems impossible to decide any machine which, depending for its power of flotation on gas, can be rendered altogether independent of the wind, but the results of these experiments are very encouraging. - Echo

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