|The Aeronautic Society of New York|
be followed by every great country in the world. Bathed in the glorious sunshine, and
laden with the fresh, sweet perfume of the flowering plants and distant trees, the Park
that day seemed an inspiration to great things. Hopes ran high. Many a man in that
little crowd determined that day that it should be he who would win the Silver Cup that
was to be given to the member whose machine was the first to get into the air.
None, then, dreamed of the hard work and the bitter disappointments that were
still to be passed through before that cup would be won. But, then, too, none dreamed
that within a few months the Society would be setting to the world a still greater example,
and would have taken the bold step that was to have as its result the winning by America
of the biggest international aviation trophy of the year, and that the taking of those
grounds was the first step that was to lead to it.
Soon the workshops were fixed up, and, then, soon the people of the neighborhood
began to whisper to one another that queer-looking machines were being built up at the
racetrack; and every day curious, inquisitive little throngs would venture in and peep.
Never before had the like of such things been seen in New York City!
IT may be doubted whether any invention that man's glorious, patient, invincible per-
sistence has given to humanity has ever so deeply stirred imagination as has his
discovery of the art of mechanical flight. Not unnaturally, therefore, so soon as the
first short step had been gained, everybody jumped to the conclusion that the whole of the
rest of the steps had been captured. Even some of the inventors themselves flet this. From
that cirucmstance arose one of the first little difficulties that The Aeronautic Society had to
encounter and defeat.
Hardly anybody stopped to think, for instance, that the pilot of a flying machine
had need to learn to fly. It seemed to be the universal impression that all that was
necessary was to have the machine that would fly. If the flying machine did not fly,
then, there were in the general mind only two possible conclusions-either the machine
was not a machine that would fly, or the builder of it lacked the courage to fly it!
Away back in the early days of its enthusiasm, The Aeronautic Society was equally
carried away with the rest of the world. Many thought that all they needed was the
completion of their machines. They were building true enough. Their theories were
correct. They had worked out their calculations rightly. But they, like everybody else,
had fogotten the personal equation. They figured out that a certain number of weeks' work
would enable them to have their construction labor over-and, so, naturally enough, they
fixed upon the date upon which they would be flying. There was a treble mistake in that.
One of the least of them was that the work of building a flying machine takes much
more time than seemed necessary to inexperience.
The result was that promises made in good faith could not but be broken. THe Press,
equally carried away, then, by over-expectation, like the rest of the world, lost faith;
and the inevitable outcome was that the builders failed to secure in the newspapers
that credit which their efforts merited.
When machines were completed, a similar condition arose. What the public and the
Press expected to see, even at the first trial of a machine, was flying-and flying such as
is done by the birds after countless generations of flying! Not one in the crowd of
spectators and reporters would have expected to see a man ride a bicycle at his first
attempt, or drive an automobile at racing speed the first time he sat in one. No individual
in that crowd-not knowing how to swim, except in theory- would have dared dive into
deep water and trust to his ability to put theory into practice in the excitement of finding
his life depending upon his acting quickly, and acting without time to think. But all
expected the would-be aviator to aviate, and to do so without waiting even for the chance
to familiarize himself with the mere running of his machine!
As a consequence, The Aeronautic Society was for a long while treated by the Press