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By C J Norman

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But it was a fact that all the serious accidents which befell Santos-Dumont and most of the threatened accidents which he narrowly escaped were fundamentally caused by the lack of rigidity in his balloon. The immediate cause may have been a leaky valve permitting the gas to escape, or a faulty air-pump which made prompt filling of the ballonet impossible. But the effect of these flaws was to deprive the balloon of its rigidity, cause it to buckle, throwing the cordage out of gear, shifting stresses and strains, and resulting in ultimate breakdown.

Merely drawing the rope into the car and thus changing the line of its "pull" was sufficient. The Deutsch prize which stimulated Santos-Dumont to his greatest achievements with dirigibles was a purse of twenty thousand dollars, offered by Mr. Henry Deutsch, a wealthy patron of the art of aviation. Not himself an aviator, M. Deutsch greatly aided the progress of the air's conquest. Convinced that the true solution of the problem lay in development of the gasoline engine, he expended large sums in developing and perfecting it.

Had demonstrated a principle; all that remained was to develop and apply this principle and Germany would have a fleet of aërial dreadnoughts that would force any hostile nation to subjection. There was little or no discussion of the application of the principle to the ends of peace. It was as an engine of war alone that the airship appealed to the popular fancy. But at the time that fancy proved fickle. With a few repairs the airship was brought out for another test. In the air it did all that was asked for it, but it came to earth—or rather to the surface of the lake—with a shock that put it out of commission.

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