Archive for the ‘Walter Wellman’ tag

Walter Wellman On The Future Of Aerial Navigation

From February 5, 1911

WALTER WELLMAN ON THE FUTURE OF AERIAL NAVIGATION

WALTER WELLMAN ON THE FUTURE OF AERIAL NAVIGATION: From Facts Gained in His Own Experiences He Points Out What Is Needed to Conquer the Air. (PDF)

Walter Wellman was an explorer who made several unsuccessful attempts to reach the North Pole by airship (including an attempt covered here back in July). In this article, he considers the future of commercial air travel.

My faith is strong that having demonstrated the practicability of air travel man will go on till he has developed flight into a state of perfection and usefulness not even indicated by the apparatus of to-day.

Whether or not full commercial utilization of aerial navigation is coming, soon or late, is a question which no one can now adequately and confidently answer. It may come; it may not. My own impression, rather than conviction, is that in the next half century we shall have limited rather than universal commercial application of the art. But within those limitations will be found much that is highly beneficial to humanity…

Commercial aerial navigation, like any other navigation, means operation for a profit in competition with railways and steamships. involved in operation for a profit are certain requirements well understood, but which it will be well to state. First, there must be a high degree of safety of operation, and reduction to a small minimum of the risk of accident to the ship itself and its passengers and cargo. Without this high degree of safety ships and their cargoes cannot be insured at practicable premiums, owners cannot afford to carry their own insurance, (since the inevitable losses must be made up in some way,) passengers will not offer themselves for voyages, and goods will not be tendered for transportation without insurance.

Next, ships of an aerial transportation line, like steamships and railways trains, must be fairly sure of setting out on a given schedule, and of accomplishing the voyage in a reasonably close approximation to the time advertised beforehand. It is clear that great uncertainty of departure and of time of arrival would constitute a handicap against the enterprise in competition with more stable modes of transportation.

These objections, sure to hold in the long run, might not apply sharply to an aerial line as long as the novelty remained. For the unusual experience of a trip in the air passengers might offer themselves and be wiling to pay much higher rates of fare than they would have to pay upon competing lines.

Oddly, Wellman does not include thoughts of air travel by plane, even though that was clearly where the industry was heading. The first planes which carry passengers were already in development, but he focuses primarily on the problems of commercial balloon flight.

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Written by David

February 4th, 2011 at 9:00 am

Posted in Business,Technology

Problems Of First Transatlantic Balloon Trip

From July 10, 1910

PROBLEMS OF FIRST TRANSATLANTIC BALLOON TRIP

PROBLEMS OF FIRST TRANSATLANTIC BALLOON TRIP: Peculiar Conditions Face the Aeronauts Who Will Attempt to Cross the Ocean in the Dirigible America Under the Auspices of “The New York Times,” the Chicago Record-Herald, and the London Daily Telegraph. (PDF)

By 1910, Walter Wellman had made three unsuccessful attempts to fly an airship to the North Pole when he set his sites instead on crossing the Atlantic. This article describes the ambitious trip and explains how Wellman and his crew will overcome the obstacles they will surely face.

Spoiler alert! They didn’t make it. But they did manage to fly 1,000 miles before needing a rescue. That’s significant because if Wellman had managed to fly 1,000 miles on his earlier expeditions to the North Pole, he would have reached it.

Wellman lived another 24 years, but after this trip he never flew again.

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Written by David

July 9th, 2010 at 10:15 am

Posted in Adventure,Technology