PLANE AND RUDDER CONTROL.
Having constructed and equipped your machine, the
next thing is to decide upon the method of controlling
the various rudders and auxiliary planes by which the
direction and equilibrium and ascending and descending
of the machine are governed.
The operator must be in position to shift instantaneously the
position of rudders and planes, and also to control
the action of the motor. This latter i
work automatically and as a general thing does so with
entire satisfaction, but there are times when the supply
of gasolene must be regulated, and similar things done.
Airship navigation calls for quick action, and for this
reason the matter of control is an important one--it is
more than important; it is vital.
Several Methods of Control.
Some aviators use a steering wheel somewhat after
the style of that used in automobiles, and by this not
only manipulate the rudder planes, but also the flow of
gasolene. Others employ foot levers, and still others,
like the Wrights, depend upon hand levers.
Curtiss steers his aeroplane by means of a wheel, but
secures the desired stabilizing effect with an ingenious
jointed chair-back. This is so arranged that by leaning
toward the high point of his wing planes the aeroplane
is restored to an even keel. The steering post of the
wheel is movable backward and forward, and by this
motion elevation is obtained.
The Wrights for some time used two hand levers, one
to steer by and warp the flexible tips of the planes, the
other to secure elevation. They have now consolidated
all the functions in one lever. Bleriot also uses the
single lever control.
Farman employs a lever to actuate the rudders, but
manipulates the balancing planes by foot levers.
Santos-Dumont uses two hand levers with which to
steer and elevate, but manipulates the planes by means
of an attachment to the back of his outer coat.
Connection With the Levers.
No matter which particular method is employed, the
connection between the levers and the object to be manipulated
is almost invariably by wire. For instance, from
the steering levers (or lever) two wires connect with opposite
sides of the rudder. As a lever is moved so as to
draw in the right-hand wire the rudder is drawn to the
right and vice versa. The operation is exactly the same
as in steering a boat. It is the same way in changing
the position of the balancing planes. A movement of
the hands or feet and the machine has changed its
course, or, if the equilibrium is threatened, is back on
an even keel.
Simple as this seems it calls for a cool head, quick
eye, and steady hand. The least hesitation or a false
movement, and both aviator and craft are in danger.
Which Method is Best?
It would be a bold man who would attempt to pick
out any one of these methods of control and say it was
better than the others. As in other sections of aeroplane
mechanism each method has its advocates who dwell
learnedly upon its advantages, but the fact remains that
all the various plans work well and give satisfaction.
What the novice is interested in knowing is how the
control is effected, and whether he has become proficient
enough in his manipulation of it to be absolutely dependable
in time of emergency. No amateur should attempt
a flight alone, until he has thoroughly mastered
the steering and plane control. If the services and advice of an
experienced aviator are not to be had the
novice should mount his machine on some suitable supports
so it will be well clear of the ground, and, getting
into the operator's seat, proceed to make himself well
acquainted with the operation of the steering wheel and
Some Things to Be Learned.
He will soon learn that certain movements of the
steering gear produce certain effects on the rudders. If,
for instance, his machine is equipped with a steering
wheel, he will find that turning the wheel to the right
turns the aeroplane in the same direction, because the
tiller is brought around to the left. In the same way
he will learn that a given movement of the lever throws
the forward edge of the main plane upward, and that the
machine, getting the impetus of the wind under the concave
surfaces of the planes, will ascend. In the same
way it will quickly become apparent to him that an opposite
movement of the lever will produce an opposite
effect--the forward edges of the planes will be lowered,
the air will be "spilled" out to the rear, and the machine
The time expended in these preliminary lessons will
be well spent. It would be an act of folly to attempt to
actually sail the craft without them.