The Word Foundation



Vol. 13 SEPTEMBER, 1911. No. 6

Copyright, 1911, by H. W. PERCIVAL.


MODERN science has as last admitted Flying into its family of respectable sciences, under the name pneumatics, aerostatics, aeronautics or aviation. The mechanics of Flying may be studied and practiced by any qualified man without loss of his scientific standing.

For centuries there have been able and worthy men, together with pretenders and fanciful adventurers among the claimants to a knowledge of the science of flying. Until the present time orthodox science has fought and held the field against all claimants. It has been a long and hard fight. The man of merit has been subjected to the same condemnation or ridicule as a charlatan and fanatic. The aviator who now flies leisurely through the air or rises and falls, whirls or darts or glides in graceful figures before admiring spectators, is able to do so because of a long line of men, reaching from the past centuries into the present, who made his success possible for him. They endured much ridicule and censure freely given; he earns a substantial reward and receives the praises of admiring throngs.

The science of flying was not welcomed nor easily admitted into the circle of recognized sciences and by their votaries granted its title of scientific respectability. The men of the approved sciences admitted the science of flying to their number because they had to. Flying was proven and demonstrated to the senses as facts, and could no longer be denied. So it was accepted.

Every theory should be submitted to tests and proven before it is accepted as true. That which is true and for the best will persist and overcome all opposition in time. But the opposition which is shown to many things outside what are at the time the limits of restricted science, has prevented minds trained to scientific thought from taking up suggestions and bringing to perfection certain thoughts which would have been of great use to man.

The attitude of authorized science—to frown on subjects outside and not accepted—is a check to the increase and power of frauds and fanatics, who grow like weeds in the hotbed of civilization. Were it not for this attitude of science, the frauds, fanatics and priestly pests would, like noxious weeds, grow and overshadow, crowd out or strangle the human minds, would change the garden of civilization into a jungle of doubts and fears and would compel the mind to return to the superstititious uncertainties out of which mankind was led by science.

Considering the ignorance which in varying degrees prevails among all minds, it may be, perhaps, best that scientific authority should unscientifically scowl at and deny subjects or things outside its restricted limits. On the other hand, this unscientific attitude hinders the growth of modern science, postpones valuable discoveries about to be made in new fields, burdens the mind with unscientific prejudices and so holds back the mind from finding its way through thought to freedom.

Not long ago the journals echoing the opinions of science ridiculed or condemned those who would build flying machines. They accused the would-be flyers of being idle or useless dreamers. They held the efforts of would-be flyers had never amounted to anything, and that the energy and time and money wasted in such useless attempts should be turned into other channels to get practical results. They repeated the arguments of the authorities to prove the impossibility of mechanical flight by man.

Flight or flying is now a science. It is being employed by governments. It is the latest luxury indulged in by daring sportsmen. It is a subject of commercial and public interest. Results of its development are carefully noted and its future eagerly anticipated.

Today all journals have something to say in praise of the “man-birds,” the “bird-men,” the “aviators,” and their machines. In fact, news about pneumatics, aerostatics, aeronautics, aviation, flying is the greatest and latest attraction which the journals offered to an attentive world.

These moulders of pubic opinion are forced by facts and public opinion to change their views. They wish to give the public what the public mind desires. It is well to forget the details and the changes of opinions in the flow of time. However, what man should try to become alive to and what he should remember is that prejudices and ignorance cannot forever check the growth and development of the mind nor stop its power of expression. Man can feel strong in the thought that his powers and possibilities will be best expressed if he works diligently in thought and action for what he conceives possible and best. The opposition offered by prejudices and public opinion can, for a time only, obstruct his progress. Prejudices and mere opinions will be overcome and swept away as the possibilities become evident. In the meantime, all opposition offers the opportunity to develop strength and is necessary to growth.

In moments of reverie, of deep thought, of ecstasy, man, the mind, knows that he can fly. At the time of elation, at the hearing of good news, when the breath flows rythmically and the pulse is high, he feels as though he could rise upward and soar onward into the spaces of the beckoning unknown blue. Then he looks at his heavy body and stays on earth.

The worm crawls, the pig walks, the fish swims and the bird flies. Each soon after it is born. But long after birth the man-animal cannot fly, nor swim, nor walk nor crawl. The most he can do is to squirm and kick and howl. Many months after birth he learns to crawl; then with much effort he creeps on hands and knees. Later on and after many bumps and falls he is able to stand. Finally, by parental example and with much guidance, he walks. Years may pass before he learns to swim, and some never learn.

Now that man has achieved the miracle of mechanical flight, it would seem that when he masters aerial flight by mechanical means, he will have reached the limit of his possibilities in the art of flying. This is not so. He must and will do more. Without any mechanical contrivance, unaided and alone, in his free physical body, man shall fly through the air at will. He will be able to rise as high as his breathing capacity will permit, and to guide and regulate his flight as easily as a bird. How soon this shall be done will depend on the thought and effort of man. It may be that it will be done by many of those now living. In future ages all men will be able to acquire the art of flying.

Unlike animals, man learns the use of his body and senses by being taught. Mankind must have object lessons or an example, before they will accept and try that which is possible for them. For swimming and flying, men have had the fishes and birds as object lessons. Instead of trying to find out the force or energy used by birds in their flight, and of learning the art of employing it, men have always tried to invent some mechanical contrivance and to use that for flight. Men have found the mechanical means of flight, because they have thought and worked for it.

When man watched birds in their flights, he thought about them and wanted to fly, but he has lacked confidence. Now he has confidence because he flies. Although he has patterned after the mechanism of the bird, he does not fly like the bird, nor does he use the force which a bird uses in its flight.

Sensible of the weight of their bodies and not knowing the nature of thought nor its relation to their senses, men will be astonished at the thought of their flight through the air in their physical bodies only. Then they will doubt it. It is likely that they will add ridicule to doubt, and show by argument and experience that unaided human flight is impossible. But some day one man bolder and more qualified than the rest will fly, without other physical means than his body. Then other men will see and believe; and, seeing and believing, their senses will be adjusted to their thought and they, too, will fly. Then men can no longer doubt, and unaided bodily human flight will be an accepted fact, as commonplace as phenomena of the wonderful forces called gravitation and light. It is well to doubt, but not to doubt too much.

The motive force of flight of all birds is not due to the flapping or fluttering of their wings. The motive power of the flight of birds is a specific force which is induced by them, which then enables them to make their long sustained flights, and by which they can move through the air without the flapping or fluttering of their wings. Birds use their wings to balance their bodies, and the tail as a rudder to guide the flight. The wings are also used to start the flight or to induce the motive force.

The force which a bird uses to fly is present with man as it is with a bird. However, man does not know of it, or if he is conscious of the force, he knows not of the uses to which it may be put.

A bird starts its flight by inbreathing, by stretching its legs, and by spreading its wings. By the movements of its breath, its legs and wings, the bird excites its nerve organism, so as to bring it into a certain condition. When in that condition it induces the motive force of flight to act through its nervous organization, similarly as an electric current is induced along a system of wires by the turning of a key on the switchboard of the system. When the motive force of flight is induced, it impels the body of the bird. The direction of the flight is guided by the position of the wings and tail. Its speed is regulated by the nerve tension and the volume and movement of the breath.

That birds do not fly by the use of their wings only is evidenced by the difference in wing surface as compared to the weight of their bodies. A fact worthy of note is, that there is a proportionate decrease in the wing surface or wing area of the bird compared to the increase of its weight. The birds of comparatively large wings and light bodies cannot fly as fast or as long as the birds whose wings are small as compared to their weight. The more powerful and heavy the bird the less it depends on its wing surface for its flight.

Some birds are light in weight as compared to the large spread of their wings. This is not because they need the wing surface for flight. It is because the large wing surface allows them to rise up suddenly and to break the force of their sudden fall. Birds of long and rapid flight and whose habits do not require them to rise and fall suddenly do not need and usually do not have large wing surface.

Another evidence that the motive force of flight of birds is not due to the surface and mechanism of their wings, is that whenever the occasion requires, the bird greatly increases its speed with only a slight increase of the movement of its wings or without any increase of wing movement whatever. If it depended on wing movement for flight an increase of speed would depend on an increased wing movement. The fact that its speed can be greatly increased without a proportionate increase of wing movement is an evidence that that which moves it is caused by another force than the muscular movements of its wings. This other cause of its flight is the motive force of flight.

To be concluded.