Various Forms of Flying Machines.
There are three distinct and radically different forms of flying machines. These are: Aeroplanes, helicopters and ornithopers.
Of these the aeroplane takes precedence and is used almost exclusively by successful aviators, the helicopters and ornithopers having been tried and found lacking in some vital features, while at the same time in some respects the helicopter has advantages not found in the aeroplane.
What the Helicopter Is.
The helicopter gets its name from being fitted with vertical propellers or helices (see illustration) by the action of which the machine is raised directly from the ground into the air. This does away with the necessity for getting the machine under a gliding headway before it floats, as is the case with the aeroplane, and consequently the helicopter can be handled in a much smaller space than is required for an aeroplane. This, in many instances, is an important advantage, but it is the only one the helicopter possesses, and is more than overcome by its drawbacks. The most serious of these is that the helicopter is deficient in sustaining capacity, and requires too much motive power.
Form of the Ornithopter.
The ornithopter has hinged planes which work like the wings of a bird. At first thought this would seem to be the correct principle, and most of the early experimenters conducted their operations on this line. It is now generally understood, however, that the bird in soaring is in reality an aeroplane, its extended wings serving to sustain, as well as propel, the body. At any rate the ornithoper has not been successful in aviation, and has been interesting mainly as an ingenious toy. Attempts to construct it on a scale that would permit of its use by man in actual aerial flights have been far from encouraging.
Three Kinds of Aeroplanes.
There are three forms of aeroplanes, with all of which more or less success has been attained. These are: The monoplane, a one-surfaced plane, like that used by Bleriot.
The biplane, a two-surfaced plane, now used by the Wrights, Curtiss, Farman, and others.
The triplane, a three-surfaced plane This form is but little used, its only prominent advocate at present being Elle Lavimer, a Danish experimenter, who has not thus far accomplished much.
Whatever of real success has been accomplished in aviation may be credited to the monoplane and biplane, with the balance in favor of the latter. The monoplane is the more simple in construction and, where weight-sustaining capacity is not a prime requisite, may probably be found the most convenient. This opinion is based on the fact that the smaller the surface of the plane the less will be the resistance offered to the air, and the greater will be the speed at which the machine may be moved. On the other hand, the biplane has a much greater plane surface (double that of a monoplane of the same size) and consequently much greater weight— carrying capacity.
Differences in Biplanes.
While all biplanes are of the same general construction so far as the main planes are concerned, each aviator has his own ideas as to the “rigging.”
Wright, for instance, places a double horizontal rudder in front, with a vertical rudder in the rear. There are no partitions between the main planes, and the bicycle wheels used on other forms are replaced by skids.
Voisin, on the contrary, divides the main planes with vertical partitions to increase stability in turning; uses a single-plane horizontal rudder in front, and a big box-tail with vertical rudder at the rear; also the bicycle wheels.
Curtiss attaches horizontal stabilizing surfaces to the upper plane; has a double horizontal rudder in front, with a vertical rudder and horizontal stabilizing surfaces in rear. Also the bicycle wheel alighting gear.
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