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Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 261 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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AERONAUTICS, the art of " navigating " the "air." It is divisible into two main branches—aerostation, dealing properly with machines which like balloons are lighter than the air, and aviation, dealing with the problem of artificial flight by means of flying machines which, like birds, are heavier than the air, and also with attempts to fly made by human beings by the aid of artificial wings fitted to their limbs. Historically, aviation is the older of the two, and in the legendsor myths of men or animals which are supposed to have travelled through the air, such as Pegasus, Medea's dragons and Daedalus, as well as in Egyptian bas-reliefs, wings appear as the means by which aerial locomotion is effected. In later times there are many stories of men who have attempted to fly in the same way. John Wilkins (1614-1672), one of the founders of the Royal Society and bishop of Chester, who in 1640 discussed the possibility of reaching the moon by volitation, says in his Mathematical Magick (1648) that it was related that " a certain English monk called Elmerus, about the Confessor's time," flew from a town in Spain for a distance of more than a furlong; and that other persons had flown from St Mark's, Venice, and at Nuremberg. Giovanni Battista Dante, of Perugia, is said to have flown several times across Lake Trasimene. At the beginning of the 16th century an Italian alchemist who was collated to the abbacy of Tungland, in Galloway, Scotland, by James IV., undertook to fly from the walls of Stirling Castle through the air to France. He actually attempted the feat, but soon came to the ground and broke his thigh-bone in the fall—an accident which he explained by asserting that the wings he employed contained some fowls' feathers, which had an " affinity " for the dung-hill, whereas if they had been composed solely of eagles' feathers they would have been attracted to the air. This anecdote furnished Dunbar, the Scottish poet, with the subject of one of his rude satires. Leonardo da Vinci about the same time approached the problem in a more scientific spirit, and his notebooks contain several sketches of wings to be fitted to the arms and legs. In the following century a lecture on flying delivered in 1617 by Fleyder, rector of the grammar school at Tubingen, and published eleven years later, incited a poor monk to attempt to put the theory into practice, but his machinery broke down and he was killed. In Francis Bacon's Natural History there are two passages which refer to flying, though they scarcely bear out the assertion made by some writers that he first published the true principles of aeronautics. The first is styled Experiment Solitary, touching Flying in the Air: —" Certainly many birds of good wing (as kites and the like)would bear up a good weight as they fly; and spreading feathers thin and close, and in great breadth, will likewise bear up a great weight, being even laid, without tilting up on the sides. The farther extension of this experiment might be thought upon." The second passage is more diffuse, but less intelligible; it is styled Experiment Solitary, touching the Flying of unequal Bodies in the Air:—" Let there be a body of unequal weight (as of wool and lead or bone and lead) ; if you throw it from you with the light end forward, it will turn, and the weightier end will recover to be forwards, unless the body be over long. The cause is, for that the more dense body hath a more violent pressure of the parts from the first impulsion, which is the cause (though heretofore not found out, as hath been often said) of all violent motions; and when the hinder part moveth swifter (for that it less endureth pressure of parts) than the forward part can make way for it, it must needs be that the body turn over; for (turned) it can more easily draw forward the lighter part." The fact here alluded to is the resistance that bodies experience in moving through the air, which, depending on the quantity of surface merely, must exert a proportionally greater effect on rare substances. The passage itself, however, after making every allowance for the period in which it was written, must be deemed confused, obscure and unphilosophical. In his posthumous work, De Motu Animalium, published at Rome in 168o-1681,G.A.Borelli gave calculations of the enormous strength of the pectoral muscles in birds; and his proposition cciv. (vol. i. pp. 322-326), entitled Est impossibile ut homines propriis viribus artificiose volare possint, points out the impossibility of man being able by his muscular strength to give motion to wings of sufficient extent to keep him suspended in the air. But during his lifetime two Frenchmen, Allard in 166o and Besnier about 1678, are said to have succeeded in making short flights. An account of some of the modern attempts to construct flying machines will be found in the article FLIGHT AND FLYING; here we append a brief consideration of the mechanical aspects of the problem. The very first essential for success is safety, which will probably only be attained with automatic stability. The underlying principle is that the centre of gravity shall at all times be on the same vertical line as the centre of pressure. The latter varies with the angle of incidence. For square planes it moves approximately as expressed by joessel's formula, C+(0.2+o• sin a) L, in which C is the distance frcm the front edge, L the length fore and aft, and a the angle of incidence. The movement is different on concave surfaces. The term aeroplane is understood to apply to flat sustaining surfaces, but experiment indicates that arched surfaces are more efficient. S. P. Langley proposed the word aerodrome, which seems the prefer-able term for apparatus with wing-like surfaces. This is the type to which results point as the proper one for further experiments. With this it seems probable that, with well-designed apparatus, 40 to 50 lb can be sustained per indicated h.p., or about twice that quantity per resistance or " thrust " h.p., and that some 3o or 40%/, of the weight can be devoted to the machinery, thus requiring motors, with their propellers, shafting, supplies, &c., weighing less than 20 lb per h.p. It is evident that the apparatus must be designed to be as light as possible, and also to reduce to a minimum all resistances to propulsion. This being kept in view, the strength and consequent section required for each member may be calculated by the methods employed in proportioning bridges, with the difference that the support (from air pressure) will be considered as uniformly distributed, and the load as concentrated at one or more points. Smaller factors of safety may also have to be used. Knowing the sections required and unit weights of the materials to be employed, the weight of each part can be computed. If a model has been made to absolutely exact scale, the weight of the full-sized apparatus may approximately be ascertained by the formula W' = W tV s in which W is the weight of the model, S its surface, and W' and S' the weight and surface of the intended apparatus. Thus if the model has been made one-quarter size in its homologous dimensions, the supporting surfaces will be sixteen times, and the total weight sixty-four times those of the model. The weight and the surface being determined, the three most important things to know are the angle of incidence, the " lift," and the required speed. The fundamental formula for rectangular air pressure is well known: P=KV2S, in which P is the rectangular normal pressure, in pounds or kilograms, K a coefficient (0.0049 for British, and o•11 for metric measures), V the velocity in miles per hour or in metres per second, and S the surface in square feet or in square metres. The normal on oblique surfaces, at various angles of incidence, is given by the formula P = KV2Sn, which latter factor is given both for planes and for arched surfaces in the subjoined table:-
End of Article: AERONAUTICS

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