For these reasons, and a hundred others, I consider that my air-ship's home, like my own, is in Paris. As a boy, in Brazil, my heart turned to the City of Light, above which in 1783 the first Montgolfier had been sent up; where the first of the world's aeronauts had made his first ascension; where the first hydrogen balloon had been set loose; where first an air-ship had been made to navigate the air with its steam-engine, screw propeller, and rudder.
As a youth I made my own first balloon ascension from Paris. In Paris I have found balloon constructors, motor makers, and machinists possessed not only of skill but of patience. In Paris I made all my first experiments. In Paris I won the Deutsch prize in the first dirigible to do a task against a time limit. And, now that I have not only what I call my racing air-ship but a little "runabout," in which to take my pleasure over the trees of the Bois, it is in Paris that I am enjoying my reward in it as--what I was once called reproachfully--an "aerostatic sportsman!"
[Ill.u.s.tration: "No. 9." SEEN FROM CAPTIVE BALLOON, JUNE 11, 1903]
MORE REASONING OF CHILDREN
During these years Luis and Pedro, the ingenious country boys whom we found reasoning of mechanical inventions in the Introductory Fable of this book, have spent some time in Paris. They were present at the winning of the Deutsch prize of aerial navigation; they spent the winter of 1901-2 at Monte Carlo; had good places at the review of the 14th July 1903; and have broadened their education by the sedulous reading of scientific weeklies and the daily newspapers. Now they are preparing to return to Brazil.
The other day, seated on a cafe terrace of the Bois de Boulogne, they chatted of the problem of aerial navigation.
"These tentatives with dirigible balloons, so called, can bring us no nearer to its solution," said Pedro. "Look you, they are filled with a substance--hydrogen--fourteen times lighter than the medium in which it floats--the atmosphere. It would be just as possible to force a tallow candle through a brick wall!"
"Pedro," said Luis, "do you remember your objections to my waggon wheels?"
"To the locomotive engine?"
"To the steamboat?"
"Our only hope to navigate the air," continued Pedro, "must, in the nature of things, be found in devices heavier than the air--in flying machines or aeroplanes. Reason by a.n.a.logy. Look at the bird...."
"Once you desired me to look at the fish," said Luis. "You said the steamboat ought to wriggle through the water...."
"Do be serious, Luis," said Pedro in conclusive tones. "Exercise common-sense. Does man fly? No. Does the bird fly? Yes. Then, if man would fly, let him imitate the bird. Nature has made the bird. Nature never goes wrong."
* * * * *
« Previous My Bookmarks Chapters Next»