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The mail increased from about 60 kilograms on the first trip to 160 kilograms each on the two last return trips from Pernambuco.
As soon as the voyages were extended from Pernambuco to Rio de Janeiro a considerable increase in the number of passengers was observed. From Pernambuco to Rio all available space on board was sold out on each of these flights (22 to 23 passengers). At the last trip there were bookings for more than 30 passengers at Pernambuco.
A preponderant number of passengers for the return flight was taken on board at Rio de Janeiro, which shows conclusively that if in future the airship line is extended to Rio much more favorable numbers of passengers will be reached than if the voyages terminate at Pernambuco, as heretofore.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. I will call Mr. Warner.
TESTIMONY OF EDWARD P. WARNER
Senator KEAN. You do solemnly swear that the testimony you will give in the matter on hearing will be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth, so help you God.
Mr. WARNER. I do.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Will you give your name and address to the reporter.
Mr. WARNER. Edward P. Warner, New York City.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Mr. Warner, you were the Assistant Secretary of the Navy for aeronautics?
Mr. WARNER. Yes, sir.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. You were also head of the department of aeronautical engineering, Massachusetts Institute of Technology?
Mr. WARNER. For a number of years.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Mr. Warner, the committee is charged by the Congress with the duty of making recommendations as to the future policy of the Government with respect to airships.
Mr. WARNER. Yes, sir.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. Have you observations that would help the committee in fulfilling that duty ?
Mr. WARNER. Naturally, having been deeply interested in aeronautics, both in heavier-than-air and lighter-than-air craft for a number of years, I have some views of my own on airship policy. I can perhaps develop them most effectively and most usefully to the committee if I supply them with a little background and if I explain, as we go along, the conclusion, the line of reasoning which has led me to the particular views which I hold.
It seems to me that in the first place we can take as virtually axiomatic that any vehicle or any commercial instrument or any weapon of war which has certain peculiar qualities, peculiar merits of its own, not possessed by other corresponding instruments, should be kept under investigation, should be the subject of continuous .study and development, unless it appears clearly in the light of experience that that new instrument has inherent defects, technical, operational, or economic, which are apparently impossible to overcome, and which are so serious that they overbalance any counterbalancing merit.
I am not going to try and argue the point which Mr. Fritchie and other witnesses have presented so effectively. Of course, I speak only from the naval point of view, because I understand that is your only interest, that is the only subject within the terms of reference of committee, but I think we can say in general that speed and range of view are of preeminent importance in naval scouting, and that speed and flexibility of employment are of preeminent importance, if I may introduce a single clause upon the subject in commercial transports.
The airship possesses an exceptional degree of speed, much greater speed than any surface craft. It possesses by virtue of its capacity of selecting its own altitude, an exceptional range of vision, and by virtue, not only of its ability to select its own altitudes, but also by its ability to pass from land or sea at will, an exceptional degree of flexibility of employment. It has the advantage over other types of aircraft, and even under some conditions over surface. crafts of exceptional range, a range definitely superior to any other type of aircraft.
So, if we look only at the bright side of the picture, there seems to be a clear case for the airship, a case for continuing airship work.
There is a darker side; there is a side of the disadvantages of the airship upon the face of the records, and we have to consider whether or not there has been displayed any disadvantages which are so inherent in lighter-than-air craft as a type, that they appear insuperable, and that they justify our discarding any further attempt to carry on.
We have had, of course, in the past few years—in fact, in the 30 years of airship history-a substantial number of tragic experiences.
The CHAIRMAN. Pardon me; what is this witness called for?
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. He is the former Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Aeronautics; former head of the department of aeronautical engineering in the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
Mr. WARNER. We have had a substantial number of tragic experiences, but before we can interpret their significance we have to decide from just what point of view we are going to consider the technical merits and technical drawbacks of the rigid airship. We can look at the present status of the type, and if we do that and only that I think we shall have to entertain some question about the feasibility of unlimited employment of the airship, or at least we shall have to say that certain limitations must be placed upon the airshipthat there are certain things it cannot do and that there are places to which it cannot go. But, there is a second point of view which seems to me to be a more reasonable one in dealing with any radically new technical art, that is the point of view not of the present situation, or of the apparent trend of development, but of the rate of change. That is, we can look not only at where the airship is today but also at where it is in the past, how it has developed over the past years, and we can try to extrapilate that curve development near the future.
Colonel BRECKINRIDGE. What is that word—I do not know itextrapilate?
Mr. WARNER. That is, we can presume that history repeats itself to some extent, and if progress has been continuous we may expect that progress is not going to stop at this point. If I may be permitted to assume that there is a line, and look back over its recent curve, there is a disposition among some of us, and I say some of us advisedly, because I am more of an airplane than airship man my
self, among some of us particularly interested in heavier than air, we come to talk and to think as though the airship were remaining poised, static at one point, while the airplane came up toward it, passed it, and went on. I remember a conversation I had some 5 years ago with my late-lamented friend, Sir Seston Brancker, then controller of civil aviation in the United Kingdom, who was one of the victims of the R-100 tragedy himself.
He told me he had been asked by a responsible member of the British Cabinet for his opinion of the future of airships. He said he thought for 25 years the airship had an important place, and at that time the airplane would be able to do everything the airship could, and we would not need to bother further about rigid airships, but that again presumes that the airship remains relatively motionless; it neglects the prospect of improvement in the airship part, and as a matter of fact, although few airships are built because they are. expensive and the construction is slow, as a matter of fact, if you look back over the last 10 or 20 years you will find a very substantial degree of progress. This degree of progress seems to me to be of four distinct types: In the first place, progress in the improvement of the equipment, not only of the airship power plants but of those accessories and instruments and auxiliaries of which Commander Rosendahl has spoken.
In the second place, there has been progress in the study of meteorology and in the interpretation of meteorological knowledge in terms of airship operation. In the third place, there has been a gradual accumulation of that type of operational knowledge which is directly transmissible which can be taught to the airship officer as he enters upon his career. Fourth, there has been a gradual developing of training among airship personnel, and a gradual increasing skill on the part of the individual personnel concerned as they increased their individual experience. We have made definite progress.
I did not come here expecting to testify with regard to statistics, but let me recall a few rough comparisions to mind:
At the end of 1915, roughly, I think I am correct in saying that no airship had ever flown as far as 3,000 miles without a stop. At the end of the war there had already been a single flight of 5,000 miles, approximately, under the spur of military necessity. There have been flights since the war materially longer than 5,000 miles, carrying a materially excess load of baggage, passengers, and so on, and the Macon, on the basis of tests so far completed has a cruising radius of approximately 9,000 sea miles, or 10,500 land miles, at a cruising speed of 50 nautical miles an hour.
The CHAIRMAN. You say the Macon has made that?
Mr. WARNER. No; I say that is on the basis of tests which were made on fuel consumption and the like, that is the apparent cruising radius, as I have been informed. The Akron's radius was somewhat smaller, and there was a much larger number of tests on the Akron, but the Akron was capable of a radius by far beyond the length of any flights that had been made, and she was far beyond the theoretical radius of any other ship.
The CHAIRMAN. You knew of her very unsatisfactory flight under the command of Commander Rosendahl to the Pacific coast, did you not?
Mr. WARNER. I know in a general way of the flight which Commander Rosendahl and others can testify on the details of fuel consumption and other matters which they know much better than I.
The CHAIRMAN. All right.
Mr. WARNER. If we go back to the time before the war, we find a still shorter radius of action and slower speed than attained in the war and since, in spite of the fact that in the whole world there have only been 8 or 10 airships built since the war. Roughly speaking, the airship has quadrupled its radius of action since 1914. Since that time the airplane has done about the same, just about the same, because the record distance of an airplane flight before the war, undertaken in 1914, is some fourteen hundred miles; it has now been increased to 5,000 in a single flight.
The airship has kept going ahead. Record distances are less important than the speed and regularity of operation. To that there has been tremendous contribution by the work done in several countries, particularly in the last few years in the United States, at Lakehurst, on the operation and the ground handling of airships. As recently as 1919 there was no way of handling an airship anywhere in the world onto the ground or into the air except by sheer manhandling, with a very large crew, who received the ship into their arms, so to speak and led it by hand into the hangar. By work done in Great Britain, in Germany, though this does not happen to have been a field of special German interest most of the time, but in the last few years, particularly in the United States, with the stub mast which has succeeded to the high mast developed in Great Britain, the process of handling an airship on the ground has been immensely simplified; the ground crew required has been reduced, and the possibility of handling them from and to their hangars under bad conditions has been immensely increased.
Now, those are just a few of the high spots I have in mind when I say I think we have been making progress.
Now, I am coming quickly, I know it is late, I am coming to the point of what that means to me in terms of future policy. Here, of course, I am coming to some extent to a personal opinion, though it is a personal opinion that I find myself driven to by the facts as I see them.
I think we have to decide in the first place we are going to judge the airship in terms only of its performance today, or whether we are going to judge it in terms of what we may reasonably expect in performance a few years hence. I am not much disposed to prophecy; it is too easy to talk about the marvels of the future but this is a case in which it is almost inevitable that we must keep the future in mind, because it seems to me that we shall make a mistake and we shall not only handicap the current operation of airships, but we shall almost invite further disasters if we feel that the airship is constantly upon trial, from day to day, and that it must always be doing something to justify itself.
In the investigation which was held under the chairmanship of Sir John Simon, after the R-101 tragedy in England, it became very clear that the personnel responsible for lighter-than-air craft in the British Empire felt that they were on trial from day to day, that they had to make good, that they had to do the things they said they were going to do, they had to go through with the flight they had sceduled, even if the ship was not in good condition and even if the weather was not what they wished. They went out under unfavorable conditions and tragedy ensued. That is the risk we run in any country if we allow ourselves to entertain the point of view that a device which I consider still frankly in the development stage, must justify itself by current performance in practical operation. That is, I think it is a mistake to consider that the airship must go forward immediately, the Macon or any other airship that may be built, must go forward immediately and go in service with the fleet, ask no favors, and serve every day under every condition.
I think we must admit that the airship needs to ask favors for the time being from the things it cannot do, from the conditions it cannot conquer. We must develop it. I can say that there are conditions under which the airship cannot operate, but those conditions are more infrequent than they were in the past. They are growing steadily more infrequent; that the range of operation is increasing and that the obstacles which existed in the past are being overcome and their scope reduced. I think we can look forward to continued progress if we will go on feeling that we are carrying on with something that is an experiment in extent that we are developing, and that we must consider it to some degree in a research stage, although I hate to use the word "research", as it implies laboratories. I differ from the point of view of some of the other witnesses in that I would lay more stress in the future of our airship policy on continued research and technical study rather than on continued operation with the fleet. Or continued practical application.
I think we ought to take the point of view, and we are justified in taking the point of view that the airship has certain very substantial uses today. If we got into a war today an airship would have very substantial use, and it will have more use in the future, but for the present the important thing is to make the most rapid technical progress that we can.
I think the first step in our airship policy in the future should be to decide that we have something here that is making progress and will probably continue to make progress if given the chance. Our second step is to decide how we shall give it the chance. I have hesitated about introducing the word “research.” Of course, the construction and operation of airships is a large part of that research. We cannot learn the things we need to know about the basic principles of airship design, construction, and operation without building them and flying them, and I think we ought to take the point of view frankly that we can afford to be cautious with airships. We do not have to go out and do anything spectacular.
I think if we have to admit from time to time that there are things we cannot do, it is not a confession of defeat, it is something to be accepted; and in the meantime we ought to go on and accumulate all the information we can, accumulate information not only through the existing airships, but through Government laboratories and through cooperation with other private institutions that have special facilities for research and development work, and through the occasional construction of airships of such size and type as it may at that time appear will best represent the state of the art, and will