Manuscripts/Mixed Material Article by Alexander Graham Bell, October 11, 1910
If these disasters should, as so often in the past, prove fatal to the experimenter skill cannot be gained. The knowledge obtained by the would-be aviator will then be lost to the world; and others must begin all over again instead of pursuing the subject where he left off, with the benefit of his knowledge and his experience.
It is therefore of the utmost consequence to progress in the art of aviation, that the first attempts to gain experience in the air, should be made under such conditions of safety as to reduce to a minimum the liability to fatal results.
The Wright brothers' successful flying-machine travels at the rate of about 37 miles an hour; and judging from its great flying-weight (nearly 2 lbs. per sq. ft. of supporting surface), it is unlikely that it could be maintained in the air if it had a very much less velocity:— But should an accident happen to a body propelled through the air with the velocity of a railroad train, how about the safety of the occupants? Accidents will happen, sooner or later, and the chances are largely in favor of the first accident being the last experiment.
While, therfore, we may look forward with confidence to the ultimate possession of flying-machine exceeding in speed the fastest railroad trains, it might be the part of wisdom to begin our first experiments at gaining experience in the air, with machines traveling at such moderate velocities, and at such moderate elevation, as to reduce the chances of a fatal catastrophe to a minimum. This means that they should