THE announcement was made on October 26th that Mr. Vaniman might, on the next Saturday, make a trial trip with his airship “Akron,” familiar to our readers as the craft that is to carry its captain and crew across the Atlantic some time this autumn. While the public has been disappointed so far as the trial trip is concerned, which, at the time of writing, has not yet taken place, the preparations for the trip and the attempt which was made to start out on it, were in themselves of sufficient interest to deserve brief mention in these pages. Early in the afternoon of Sunday, October 29th, Mr. Vaniman began to make preparations to lead his giant airship out of the shed and, if possible, to make a trial flight. The weather conditions weTe very favorable, though there was a slight wind blowing, sufficient to call for caution in the handling of the dirigible as it emerged from the shed. A large crowd had assembled in front of the hangar, its front ranks forming a semi-circle around the rope that had been put up to fence off the public from the space allowed for the launching of the airship. The preparations consumed a good part of the afternoon, but finally the “curtains” that form the door of the shed were drawn aside and, loudly cheered hy the crowd of people, the leather-colored envelope of the “Akron” began to thrust its rear out of the shed, as a gang of about one hundred men, holding on to the anchoring wires and to the keel of the car, slowly moved the airship out into the open. Even to those who had become quite familiar with the aspect of the balloon by frequent visits to the shed, which was open to the public for a small fee, it was an imposing sight now to see the great craft fully disclosed to broad daylight, with the view unobstructed and the airship out in the open, apparently ready to be launched. This was the first time that the balloon had left the shed, and the men handling it were largely new to the work, so that it was an experiment of some interest. In spite of a wind that was not by any means negligible, the operation was performed perfectly and without a hitch. About two-thirds of the men holding the balloon were firemen and policemen of the Atlantic City force, the remaining one-third being made up of the regular workmen. No attempt was made on this occasion to make a flight or even to run the engines, but the dirigible was simply led back into the shed just as it had been brought out, and with the same success. It will be recalled that the airship carries two sets of propellers-one with fixed axes and the other revolvable in such a manner that the propellers can be made to exert their thrust in any desired direction. The first set of propellers and its engine seemed to work satisfactorily, but the right-hand propeller of the second set gave much trouble, its bearings giving out repeatedly whenever the engine was tried. The mechanics were kept busy upon this propener, the work beiug carried on deep into the night, and by the next morning, Monday, the indications were that an actual trial would be made that afternoon. As is not unusual in such cases, numberless little complications arose, which delayed the work, so that by the time the balloon was ready once more to be taken out of the shed, it was rather late in the afternoon. The engines were tried in the shed and seemed to work well. The crew and several passengers got on board, and Mr. Vaniman gave the word for the “Akron” to be slowly drawn out. The operation was performed with the same success as on the previous day, the balloon being slightly turned so as to point into the wind. The attempt to start the main engine from the auxiliary engine, however, proved futile. It appears that a pin in the clutch lever had given out and it was found impossible to repair the damage at short notice. Thus a seemingly trifling cause rendered the flight that afternoon impossible, and with considerable disappointment the crowd presently saw the balloon once more retreating into its hangar, as dusk began to fall. While to those who were expecting to see the airship ascend, the performances of Sunday and Monday must have been disappointing, yet they were really very instructive and interesting. When we consider the great number of little points that require attention, and are liable to go wrong, the wonder is not that these first trials failed to give immediate success, but that it is at all possible to get the entire equipment of the airship under such complete control that it can be relied upon at any instant during an extended fight, a condition which evidently must be most rigidly satisfied for the proposed trans-Atlantic trip. It is with the greatest interest that we shall follow the accounts of further trials which will precede the actual journey. The time of the year is advancing, and it is to be hoped that successful trial trips will be made within a short time, so that the actual journey may be started before the favorable season of the year closes. Foreign Accent Marks ALEADING theatrical company recently toured the United States playing Sardou's “Divor!ons.” Throughout the country the billboards announcing the event printed the name of the play, in letters a foot high, “Divorcons.” This word, written with the right kind of a c, is French, pure and simple. It admits of no anglicization. As transmogrified by the American printer, it is neither French, English, nor Swahili. As the second syllable, thus printed, rhymes with pork, it may be Chicagoese. Ours is a land of paradoxes, one of the most striking of which is the fact that a people largely recruited from continental Europe should have come to the conclusion that the accent marks used in their various mother tongues are superfluous appendages-mere ornaments, like the paper frills of a French chop. Nothing could be farther from the truth. The European languages, except English, follow the common-sense plan of writing a word as they intend it to be pronounced. Before certain vowels the sound of c, in French, bears no resemblance to that of Q. They are, in fact, different letters. Conde does not rhyme with Jronde.. In German, ii is the modern method of writing the diphthong ue. When Herr MUl-ler accepts American citizenship as Muller, he is simply repudiating his family. Better call himself Miller and be done with it. Max Miiller was still Miiller after fifty years in England, and ,we are glad to observe Hugo Miinsterberg correctly spelled in “Who's 'ho in America” and other dignified literature. Not so, however, in the American newspapers. A few years ago an international scientific congress met in 'ashington, and the local papers paid the foreign visitors the delicate attention of printing. their proceedings in what was intended to be French. The result was amazing. Columns of a hybrid language appeared, containing not a single accent. Expostulation “lith the editors was met with the explanation that the type-setting machines had no accents on their keyboards. Why, under these circumstances, the ne'Spapers attempted the impossible was not explained. The daily press both directs and reflects popular usage. It would be difficult to decide whether the newspapers or the public should be held responsible for the obsolescence of the foreign accent in America. A painstaking examination of the practice prevailing in such matters reveals the startling fact that only one French word is now generally supposed, in this country, to require an accent. This is the word buffet. This euphemism for a public bar has become popular in America during the past decade. The word greets us at every street corner, always duly provided with an accent. The kind of accent, as well as its position, is a matter of individual taste. We have seen buffet, buffet, bufet-and even buffet! Are there any readers of this journal who need to be told that buffet is accentless in French? Frequency of Electric Oscillations Proceeding from a Spark T HE luminous track of a short electric spark owes its presence to variations in field intensity due to the capacity of the electrodes and the ionization of the air. As a matter of fact it is well known that the spark is oscillatory in character. By blowing a steady current of air through the spark formed at horn electrodes, M. C. Gaudrelier, as reported by Cosmos, has succeeded in separating the successive tracks of the oscillatory spark by several millimeters; knowing the velocity of the air (20 meters per second) and the distance apart of the individual spark tracks (2 millimeters) , it is possible to measure the frequency of the oscillations. In this way it has been found to be of the order of 10,000 periods per second.
This article was originally published with the title "Preparations for Launching the “Akron” for its Trial Trip"