DEMAND FOR FLYING MACHINES.
As a commercial proposition the manufacture and sale
of motor-equipped aeroplanes is making much more
rapid advance than at first obtained in the similar
handling of the automobile. Great, and even phenomenal,
as was the commercial development of the motor
car, that of the flying machine is even greater. This is
a startling statement, but it is fully warranted by the
barely more than a year ago (1909) that attention
was seriously attracted to the motor-equipped aeroplane
as a vehicle possible of manipulation by others
than professional aviators. Up to that time such actual
flights as were made were almost exclusively with the
sole purpose of demonstrating the practicability of the
machine, and the merits of the ideas as to shape, engine
power, etc., of the various producers.
Results of Bleriot's Daring.
It was not until Bleriot flew across the straits of
Dover on July 25th, 1909, that the general public awoke
to a full realization of the fact that it was possible for
others than professional aviators to indulge in aviation.
Bleriot's feat was accepted as proof that at last an
absolutely new means of sport, pleasure and research,
had been practically developed, and was within the
reach of all who had the inclination, nerve and financial
means to adopt it.
From this event may be dated the birth of the modern
flying machine into the world of business. The automobile
was taken up by the general public from the
very start because it was a proposition comparatively
easy of demonstration. There was nothing mysterious
or uncanny in the fact that a wheeled vehicle could be
propelled on solid, substantial roads by means of engine
power. And yet it took (comparatively speaking) a long
time to really popularize the motor car.
Wonderful Results in a Year.
Men of large financial means engaged in the manufacture
of automobiles, and expended fortunes in attracting
public attention to them through the medium of
advertisements, speed and road contests, etc. By these
means a mammoth business has been built up, but bringing
this business to its present proportions required
years of patient industry and indomitable pluck.
At this writing, less than a year from the day when
Bleriot crossed the channel, the actual sales of flying
machines outnumber the actual sales of automobiles in
the first year of their commercial development. This
may appear incredible, but it is a fact as statistics will
In this connection we should take into consideration
the fact that up to a year ago there was no serious intention
of putting flying machines on the market; no
preparations had been made to produce them on a commercial
scale; no money had been expended in advertisements
with a view to selling them.
Some of the Actual Results.
Today flying machines are being produced on a commercial
basis, and there is a big demand for them. The
people making them are overcrowded with orders. Some
of the producers are already making arrangements to
enlarge their plants and advertise their product for sale
the same as is being done with automobiles, while a
number of flying machine motor makers are already
promoting the sale of their wares in this way.
Here are a few actual figures of flying machine sales
made by the more prominent producers since July 25th,
Santos Dumont, 90 machines; Bleriot, 200; Farman,
130; Clemenceau-Wright, 80; Voisin, 100; Antoinette,
100. Many of these orders have been filled by delivery
of the machines, and in others the construction work
is under way.
The foregoing are all of foreign make. In this country
Curtiss and the Wrights are engaged in similar
work, but no actual figures of their output are obtainable.
Larger Plants Are Necessary.
And this situation exists despite the fact that none of
the producers are really equipped with adequate plants
for turning out their machines on a modern, business-
like basis. The demand was so sudden and unexpected
that it found them poorly prepared to meet it. This,
however, is now being remedied by the erection of special
plants, the enlargement of others, and the introduction
of new machinery and other labor-saving conveniences.
Companies, with large capitalization, to engage in the
exclusive production of airships are being organized in
many parts of the world. One notable instance of this
nature is worth quoting as illustrative of the manner
in which the production of flying machines is being
commercialized. This is the formation at Frankfort,
Germany, of the Flugmaschine Wright, G. m. b. H., with
a capital of $119,000, the Krupps, of Essen, being interested.
Prices at Which Machines Sell.
This wonderful demand from the public has come
notwithstanding the fact that the machines, owing to lack
of facilities for wholesale production, are far from being
cheap. Such definite quotations as are made are
on the following basis:
Santos Dumont--List price $1,000, but owing to the
rush of orders agents are readily getting from $1,300 to
$1,500. This is the smallest machine made.
Bleriot--List price $2,500. This is for the cross-
channel type, with Anzani motor.
Antoinette--List price from $4,000 to $5,000, according
Wright--List price $5,600.
Curtiss--List price $5,000.
There is, however, no stability in prices as purchasers
are almost invariably ready to pay a considerable premium
to facilitate delivery.
The motor is the most expensive part of the flying
machine. Motor prices range from $500 to $2,000, this
latter amount being asked for the Curtiss engine.
Systematic Instruction of Amateurs.
In addition to the production of flying machines many
of the experienced aviators are making a business of
the instruction of amateurs. Curtiss and the Wrights
in this country have a number of pupils, as have also
the prominent foreigners. Schools of instruction are
being opened in various parts of the world, not alone as
private money-making ventures, but in connection with
public educational institutions. One of these latter is
to be found at the University of Barcelona, Spain.
The flying machine agent, the man who handles the
machines on a commission, has also become a known
quantity, and will soon be as numerous as his brother
of the automobile. The sign "John Bird, agent for
Skimmer's Flying Machine," is no longer a curiosity.
Yes, the Airship Is Here.
From all of which we may well infer that the flying
machine in practical form has arrived, and that it is
here to stay. It is no exaggeration to say that the time
is close at hand when people will keep flying machines
just as they now keep automobiles, and that pleasure
jaunts will be fully as numerous and popular. With
the important item of practicability fully demonstrated,
"Come, take a trip in my airship," will have more real
significance than now attaches to the vapid warblings
of the vaudeville vocalist.
As a further evidence that the airship is really here,
and that its presence is recognized in a business way,
the action of life and accident insurance companies is
interesting. Some of them are reconstructing their policies
so as to include a special waiver of insurance by
aviators. Anything which compels these great corporations
to modify their policies cannot be looked upon as
a mere curiosity or toy.
It is some consolation to know that the movement in
this direction is not thus far widespread. Moreover it
is more than probable that the competition for business
will eventually induce the companies to act more
liberally toward aviators, especially as the art of aviation