By far the ·most serious problem which confronts L* the Navy Department in its effort to utilize aeroplanes is the difficulty of providing a suitable launch. ing and alighting gear. Every one knows nowadays that before it can really fly, an aeroplane must be in motion; that, like any soaring bird, it must make an initial run in order to get up speed. Alighting on land,has always presented its difficulties; indeed, it n'ay be safely' said that the landing chassis as we know it is capable of much improvement. How much more difficult must it be to land on water? The first experiments which were made in our navy with the aeroplane involved the use of a rather extensive platform on the forecastle of the scout cruiser “Birmingham.” Down this platform, at a fairly steep angle, Ely in a Curtiss biplane, ran on November 8th of last year, and for the first time in history succeeded in launching a fying machine from the deck of a warship . ·;Two months later he succeeded in starting from and alighting upon the “Pennsylvania." Remarkable as this achievement was, it is obvious that warships cannot carry about with them platforms of such size. In action, every piece of unnecessary apparatus, every incumbranee, is simply tossed overboard. The platform unquestionably would have to go with the rest, if the ship is to be fought at all. Mr. Glenn H. Curtiss seems to have succeeded in overcoming these difficulties, by adopting the hydroplane construction. He has shown that it is possible both to start from the water and to alight upon it with comparative ease and safety. In a word, he devised a type of flying machine peculiarly adapted to the needs of the navy. The problem of providing a suitable launching gear, which can be used when the water is too rough for the hydroplane float, seems now to have been solved with equal felicity. At Hammondsport, on Lake Keuka, Curtiss has been making experiments which show that it is possible to launch a hydro-aeroplane from a wire cable. Perhaps the most successful trials were made by Lieut. Ellison. According to Mr. Curtiss, it would only be necessary to stretch one wire from the boat deck of a battleship down to the bow. On this cable the hydroplane glides down, being kept from falling by two auxiliary wires which support the wings until the machine gets up sufficient htadway to keep its own balance by means of the ailerons or other control. Such a launching gear does not interfere in any way with the guns or armament and can be stowed away after it has served its purpose in a very short time. The experiment shows that whenever the sea is too rough to permit the hydroplane to rise from the waves, it can always take the air by means of the. cable.
This article was originally published with the title "Launching an Aeroplane from a Wire" in Scientific American 105, 14, 298 (September 1911)