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Now that the war is over, a great effort is being made both in America and Europe to find work for the great fleets of air-craft. Instead of carrying deadly guns and bombs, they are being freighted with the mails, passengers, or merchandise, and sent on errands of peace to many parts of the world. The United States was quick to reorganize its air-craft on a peace basis by sending its flying boats over sea, by crossing the continent in record time, and by putting them to scores of useful purposes. It is only a matter of a few years at most when we shall see the sky dotted with air-craft busy on a hundred peaceful errands. We can catch an interesting glimpse of the future, meanwhile, by observing the latest achievements of air-craft.
The mails are regularly carried by aeroplane to-day in eleven different countries on thirtyone air-routes. The United States has two such air-services, those between Washington
LATEST TYPE OF MAIL-CARRYING AEROPLANE
and New York, with a stop at Philadelphia, and New York and Cleveland and Chicago. Some thirty more air-routes have been planned for the future. The Washington-New York route, which has been in regular operation for more than one year, holds the world's record for efficiency. The mail 'planes flew one hundred times between the cities, making only
seven forced landings and but two failures from bad weather. The best time made between Washington and New York has been a little over eighty minutes, which is about one 'fourth the time made by the fastest expresstrains.
At the end of the first year's work it was found that the air-service had actually paid all expenses and made money besides. Mail-bags have also been carried out to sea and dropped on ocean liners outward bound, thus saving several hours time in the journey between America and Europe. Within a few years we shall doubtless see the mail-aeroplanes winging their way from the Atlantic to the Pacific Ocean.
The air-mails and parcel delivery will probably soon be followed by regular passengercarrying service. One is already in successful operation between London and Paris. The distance of about 250 miles is covered in less than three hours. The fare of a shilling a mile, or $62.50 for the trip, does not seem high, considering the circumstances. The car of the aeroplane is furnished with upholstered chairs and is decorated with mirrors and lighted by electricity.
: The United States will profit more by air travel than European countries because of its greater distances. The larger number of the European states can each be crossed by rail in five or ten hours, and the aeroplane, by reducing the time to one third or less, does not make possible a vital economy. But in America it will be a tremendous advantage to reduce the time for crossing the continent from four or five days, as at present, to one or two. The distance already has been flown in fifty-two hours.
There will soon be great rivalry between the dirigible balloon and the aeroplane in compet
ing for passenger air-travel. The aeroplane may be faster, but its passengers are more crowded than aboard an airship, and are more likely to be air-sick. The dirigibles now fly over seventy-five miles an hour and can travel for ten thousand miles, or over eight days, without coming down. The largest of these airships are upward of a thousand feet in length. Regular course. dinners are served on board, and the passengers enjoy all the luxuries of a Pullman car. There are still many people who are afraid to fly. Not many years
rate system of air-ports in thirty-two cities throughout the United States. The large cities will be assisted in preparing municipal land
ago some had the same fear of a sea voyage. During the war many men were killed in the air-service, but this was largely because they were fired upon, and not because the air-craft themselves were dangerous. The official reports show that the United States trained 8600 fliers at home. In learning, these men flew 880,000 hours, or about 66,000,000 miles.
ing-fields, so that regular air-routes may be established and maintained in all directions. It will soon be possible for an aviator to start on an air-tour of the continent and find landingfields, with supplies, at convenient distances.
The landing-fields will be of four classes. The smallest of these will provide runways six hundred yards long in every direction. The
The first American air-port has been established at Atlantic City, New Jersey, which will serve as the port of entry for the great dirigible balloons which will be flown from England to America, and for transatlantic seaplanes and airplanes as well. There are no hangars in the United States capable of accommodating the monster dirigibles, but steel
A PASSENGER ALIGHTING FROM AN AEROPLANE.
masts will be erected to which they may be tethered.
The aeroplane promises to revolutionize map-making. Instead of dragging the surveyor's chain up hill and down dale, the aëroplane accomplishes the same end, while flying at a speed of a hundred miles an hour or even faster. The new method of making maps from the air was developed during the latter part of the great war.
The first photographs taken aloft were made with ordinary hand-cameras, but only half the exposures made turned out well. To-day the pictures are taken with cameras six or eight feet in length, which are often operated automatically and can be counted on to take excellent pictures ninety per cent. of the time.
The map-making cameras are set in the floor of the aeroplane's fuselage, and point straight downward. Before starting a flight, the automatic device is set to take a fixed number of pictures a minute. The air-pilot then steers his craft back and forth, just as you would mow a lawn, until every part of the city or country below has been photographed. The films are then developed and the prints are matched together. Many of them will be
found to overlap. If the aeroplane has fallen into an air pocket or its altitude has varied for any other reason so that the pictures have not been made from the same height, the negative is reduced or enlarged to match the others. The views may also be made with stereoscopic cameras to show the elevation of hills or mountains.
The maps thus constructed show marvelous details and are full of life. Every house of a great city will be shown, while no other map can give so clear an idea of open country. They proved invaluable to generals in the war, and in peace times they serve a great variety of purposes. The Government has already arranged to prepare such maps of the forest areas. They are valuable in many kinds of engineering projects, such as the building of roads or railroads, bridges, canals, reservoirs or irrigation systems, and many other forms of construction.
The real estate man, too, finds that the aëro view shows the position of houses, roads, and bodies of water better than any map.
There are to-day 30,000,000 square miles of the earth's surface of which we know very little and 8,000,000 square miles which have not been surveyed and mapped. It would take two hundred years at the present rate of exploration to complete the work, whereas the aeroplane makes it possible to do the work in a few years with great saving of time and money and of human lives.
The air-police fill a long-felt want. The great speed of the new craft gives it a tremendous advantage in pursuing wrong-doers. From his position aloft, the aëro-patrolman can spy upon his prey, while the use of the wireless telephone keeps him in instant communication with the earth. An interesting demonstration was made recently of the possibilities of this new "hurry-up" vehicle. man "stole" a fast automobile and was allowed several minutes start of the air police. The alarm was given by telephoning by wireless to an aeroplane, which happened to be aloft a few miles away, while a second aëroplane at once took the air.
The two 'planes at once circled about at an altitude of a mile or more, which enabled them to see over many miles of the surrounding country. The "thief" was soon sighted many miles on his way, speeding at nearly a mile-aminute pace. The aero-patrol overtook him, at a speed of a hundred miles on hour, passed him, and came to earth at a town several miles further on, through which he must pass. The authorities were notified, and a local constable
secured to make the "arrest" when the "thief" arrived. The ground police might have been notified by wireless had it been necessary.
The example of New York in establishing a regular aero-police squad will doubtless soon be followed by other cities. In patrolling harbors and the long water-fronts of such cities as New York, Chicago, or San Francisco the aeroplane is invaluable. A single policeman can thus do the work of a score of men in fast patrol-boats, and do it better. In San Diego, California, they even have an aërial fire-boat. In case of riots or disturbances, the air police, by looking down upon the crowds, can tell at a glance where crowds are congregating or danger is threatened and telephone to the ground without a minute's loss of time. The aeroplane proved invaluable during the great explosion at Morgan, near New York City, making it possible to fly directly over territory which was too dangerous to approach on foot.
The first use of an aëroplane as a patrolwagon is credited to the police of Dayton, Ohio. In February last a police inspector flew from Dayton to Indianapolis, and returned bringing a prisoner charged with embezzlement. . The distance of upward of one hundred
drawn vehicle, the speed at which a patient might be rushed to a hospital was doubled. The aeroplane ambulance more than doubles the speed of the automobile. The air-craft are especially designed for the purpose. The floor of the fuselage swings open, allowing a stretcher to be slid inside without disturbing the patient. The gentle swaying motion of the aeroplane is much less trying upon a sick or wounded passenger than the bumping of a wagon over ordinary roads. Many lives will be saved by carrying an injured man to the hospital in one half or one third the time required by the ordinary ambulance.
A great variety of patrol work can be better done by aëroplane than afoot, on horseback, or by automobile. It is important, for instance, that thousands of miles of telegraph wires and high-power electric transmission lines be regularly inspected, and these often extend over rough and unsettled country, far from roads. An experienced observer, flying rather low and racing along even at high speed, can readily see a broken wire, a fallen pole, or other accident to the line.
This method has been put into successful operation in the Canadian Northwest.