By C J Norman
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He declared that his genius had been exerted for his own country alone, and that his invention should be kept a secret from all but German authorities. A secret it would be to-day, except that accident and the fortunes of war revealed the intricacies of the Zeppelin construction to both France and England. (p. 060) Santos-Dumont had the fire, enthusiasm, and resiliency of youth; Zeppelin, upon whom age had begun to press when first he took up aeronautics, had the dogged pertinacity of the Teuton.
The bugles sounded and the soldiers by hundreds rushed from the fort to aid. Hurled along by the wind she dragged the soldiers after her. Fearing disaster to the men the commandant reluctantly ordered them to let go. The ship leaped into the black upper air and disappeared. All across France, across that very country where in 1916 the trenches cut their ugly zigzags from the Channel to the Vosges, she drifted unseen. By morning she was flying over England and Wales. Ireland caught a glimpse of her and days thereafter sailors coming into port told of a curious yellow mass, seemingly flabby and disintegrating like the carcass of a whale, floating far out at sea.
But thereafter Santos-Dumont preached the maxim—rare among airmen—"Keep near the ground. " Most aviators however, prefer the heights of the atmosphere, as the sailor prefers the wide and open sea to a course near land. After winning the Deutsch prize, Santos-Dumont continued (p. 053) for a time to amuse himself with dirigibles. I say "amuse" purposely, for never did serious aeronaut get so much fun out of a rather perilous pastime as he. In his "No. " he built the smallest dirigible ever known.
Aircraft carriers by C J Norman