Manuscripts/Mixed Material Clipping, May 20, 1908
May 20, 1908
BALDWIN'S “WHITE WING” IN THE AIR
A Triumph in Aeronautics. Dr. Bell Grants An Interview—Experiments Will Be Continued—Eyes of the Aeronautical World Centered On Hammondsport.
A great triumph in aeronautics was accomplished in Hammondsport this week, in the successful flight of the aerodrome White Wing. The first successful attempt was made on Monday afternoon, and in a personal interview that evening, Dr. Alexander Graham Bell, chairman of the Aerial Experiment association, had this to say:
It was a great gratification to me to see the very promising results of the experiment made with Mr. Baldwin's Aerodrome, White Wing, today. It made its maiden flight, not very much in itself, but a very great thing, as showing what it may do in the future. There are still difficulties to be overcome before we can go into extensive flights, but today it carried Mr. Baldwin up to a height estimated by people close at hand at ten feet. After the trial was over the distance was measured from a point where it left the ground to where it descended, and it was 93 yards. That was a pretty good maiden flight. It might have continued for a long time, but the pressure of the air on the under surfaces of the wind base caused the end of the wind base to buckle up and get in the way of the propeller, so that there was slight damage done to the propeller and the wind base. The machine had to be brought down on that account. When that is repaired, further attempts will be made. We will go slowly about the matter. We are not trying to exhibit an aerodrome for popularity. We are trying scientific experiments.
Lieutenant Thomas Selfridge is keeping an eye on the experiments, in the interests of the United States Army He has been appointed for the
Augustus Post, who is secretary of the Aero Club of America, came to Hammondsport to see what was being done and will report to the club. He has been here a long time waiting very patiently through the wet weather, expecting to return to New York any day, but he will not return until a series of successful flights are made. We had the first very promising spring into the air today showing that the machine will fly, and when we put some improvements on the steering gear, there can be no doubt that the world will be interested in what we are doing
The Aerial Experiment association is a body of men experimenting in aeronautics, or the production of flying machines heavier than air, and we are working together to help one another, so that we may each of us individually develop our individual ideas. There are just five members of the association, at present and they are: F. W. Baldwin, J. A. D. McCurdy, Glen H. Curtiss, Lieut. Thomas Selfridge and myself. The association will build five Aerodromes, one for each of the members, representing his own individual ideas. We have already built two. The first was Selfridge's Red Wing. We made a successful flight of 319 feet from the ice on Lake Keuka on March 12th, 1908, and later one of 120 feet. It landed badly on the ice so that the machine was demolished, but fortunately the man was not, and the engine too was uninjured. Then the association immediately began the construction of another aerodrome, this time for Mr. Baldwin. That is the White Wing which made its first flight today, of 179 feet.
One object in having Glen H. Curtiss associated with us is to lead him to develop a lighter and stronger motor, suitable for flying machines. He has already beaten America in producing light motors, and he designed this motor which the association has been using and he has now submitted plans to the association for a still better motor, which he hopes to construct in the near future.
F. W. Baldwin is not Capt. Thomas Baldwin, the balloonist. Mr. Baldwin is a young engineer, a graduate of Toronto University, and he is a grandson of the celebrated Robert Baldwin, one of the founders of the Dominion of Canada, and the premier of Upper Canada before confederation. Mr. Baldwin is the engineer who designed and constructed the tetrahedral tower of steel that stands on my estate in Novia Scotia, which is a unique structure about 80 feet in height, composed of iron gas pipes in the form of tetrahedral cells. He is also the designer of the Aerodrome White Wing, and he operated it today. There is one man connected with us here who has done a great deal of the work of construction, and who has directed many important details of the construction of the apparatus, but not being a member of the association his name has not been mentioned, and that is William F. Bedwin, superintendent of my laboratory at Baddeck, Novia Scotia. The actual work of construction of the aerodrome has been in his charge. I am chairman of the association, Mr. Baldwin is chief engineer in charge of construction. Mr. McCurdy is assistant engineer, and he is especially in charge of photographic records of experiments. He also acts as treasurer of the association. Mr. Glen H. Curtiss is the director of experiments, and he is specially in charge of motive power. Mr. Selfridge acts as secretary of the association, and is specially in charge of literature on the subject, and reports upon experiments of others, description of their apparatus, etc., so that the members may be fully up in the knowledge as to what is done.
Yesterday's flight was still more successful than any of the others. Lieut. Selfridge operated the machine. Two attempts were made. The first flight was of short duration. The machine did not rise to a height of more than two or three feet, landing easily on the grass with slight damage to the propeller which caught in a loose guy wire. The second flight was an inspiring spectacle. The White Wing left the ground and soared as gracefully as a bird for more than two hundred and forty feet at an elevation of twenty feet. There was no apparent reason except the inexperience of the operator to prevent the continuation of the flight indefinitely. As it was, the machine landed in rough ploughed ground resulting in slight damage to the front truck wheel. This can easily be repaired and with favorable weather the experiments will be continued.