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3. In the ordinary screw the blades follow each other in rapid succession, so that they travel over nearly the same space, and operate upon nearly the same particles (whether water or air), in nearly the same interval of time. The limited range at their disposal is consequently not utilized, the action of the two blades being confined, as it were, to the same plane, and the blades being made to precede or follow each other in such a manner as necessitates the work being virtually performed only by one of them. This is particularly the case when the motion of the screw is rapid and the mass propelled is in the act of being set in motion, i.e. before it has acquired momentum. In this instance a large percentage of the moving or driving power is inevitably consumed in slip, from the fact of the blades of the screw operating on nearly the same particles of matter. The wings, on the other hand, do not follow each other, but have a distinct reciprocating motion, i.e. they dart first in one direction, and then in another and opposite direction, in such a manner that they make during the one stroke the current on which they rise and progress the next. The blades formed by the wings and the blur or impression produced on the eye by the blades when made to vibrate rapidly are widely separated,—the one blade and its blur being situated on the right side of the body and corresponding to the right wing, the other on the left and corresponding to the left wing. The right wing traverses and completely occupies the right half of a circle, and compresses all the air contained within this space; the left wing occupying and working up all the air in the left and remaining half. The range or sweep of the two wings, when urged to their extreme limits, corresponds as nearly as may be to one entire circle 1 (fig. 56, p. 120). By separating the blades of the screw, and causing them to reciprocate, a double result is produced, since the blades always act upon independent columns of air, and in no instance overlap or double upon each other. The advantages possessed by this
1 of this circle, the thorax may be regarded as forming the centre, the abdomen, which is always heavier than the head, tilting the body slightly in an upward direction. This tilting of the trunk favours flight by causing the body to act after the manner of a kite.
arrangement are particularly evident when the motion is rapid. If the screw employed in navigation be driven beyond a certain speed, it cuts out the water contained within its blades ; the blades and the water revolving as a solid mass. Under these circumstances, the propelling power of the screw is diminished rather than increased. It is quite otherwise with the screws formed by the wings; these, because of their reciprocating movements, becoming more and more effective in proportion as the speed is increased. As there seems to be no limit to the velocity with which the wings may be driven, and as increased velocity necessarily results in increased elevating, propelling, and sustaining power, we have here a striking example of the manner in which nature triumphs over art even in her most ingenious, skilful, and successful creations.
4. The vanes or blades of the screw, as commonly constructed, are fixed at a given angle, and consequently always strike at the same degree of obliquity. The speed, moreover, with which the blades are driveri, is, as nearly as may be, uniform. In this arrangement power is lost, the two vanes striking after each other in the same manner, in the same direction, and almost at precisely the same moment,—no provision being made for increasing the angle, and the propelling power, at one stage of the stroke, and reducing it at another, to diminish the amount of slip incidental to the arrangement. The wings, on the other hand, are driven at a varying speed, and made to attack the air at a great variety of angles ; the angles which the pinions make with the horizon being gradually increased by the wings being made to rotate on their long axes during the down stroke, to increase the elevating and propelling power, and gradually decreased during the up stroke, to reduce the resistance occasioned by the wings during their ascent. The latter movement increases the sustaining area by placing the wings in a more horizontal position. It follows from this arrangement that every particle of air within the wide range of the wings is separately influenced by them, both during their ascent and descent,—the elevating, propelling, and sustaining power being by this means increased to a maximum, while the slip or waftage is reduced to a minimum. These results are further secured by the undulatory or waved track described by the wing during the down and up strokes. It is a somewhat remarkable circumstance that the wing, when not actually engaged as a propeller and elevator, acts as a sustiiner after the manner of a parachute. This it can readily do, alike from its form and the mode of its application, the double curve or spiral into which it is thrown in action enabling it to lay hold of the air with avidity, in whatever direction it is urged. I say “in whatever direction,” because, even when it is being recovered or drawn off the wind during the back stroke, it is climbing a gradient which arches above the body to be elevated, and so prevents it from falling. It is difficult to conceive a more admirable, simple, or effective arrangement, or one which would more thoroughly economize power. Indeed, a study of the spiral configuration of the wing, and its spiral, flail-like, lashing movements, involves some of the most profound problems in mathematics,
—the curves formed by the pinion as a pinion anatomically, and by the pinion in action, or physiologically, being exceedingly elegant and infinitely varied; these running into each other, and merging and blending, to consummate the triple function of elevating, propelling, and sustaining.
Other differences might be pointed out; but the foregoing embrace the more fundamental and striking. Enough, moreover, has probably been said to show that it is to wingstructures and wing-movements the aëronaut must direct his attention, if he would learn “the way of an eagle in the air," and if he would rise upon the whirlwind in accordance with natural laws.
The Wing at all times thoroughly under control.—The wing is moveable in all parts, and can be wielded intelligently even to its extremity; a circumstance which enables the insect, bat, and bird to rise upon the air and tread it as a master—to subjugate it in fact. The wing, no doubt, abstracts an upward and onward recoil from the air, but in doing this it exercises a selective and controlling power; it seizes one current, evades another, and creates a third ; it feels and paws the air as a quadruped would feel and paw a treacherous yielding surface. It is not difficult to comprehend why this should be so. If the flying creature is living, endowed with volition, and capable of directing its own course, it is surely more reasonable to suppose that it transmits to its travelling surfaces the peculiar movements necessary to progression, than that those movements should be the result of impact from fortuitous currents which it has no means of regulating. That the bird, e.g. requires to control the wing, and that the wing requires to be in a condition to obey the behests of the will of the bird, is pretty evident from the fact that most of our domestic fowls can fly for considerable distances when they are young and when their wings are flexible; whereas when they are old and the wings stiff, they either do not fly at all or only for short distances, and with great difficulty. This is particularly the case with tame swans. This remark also holds true of the steamer or race-horse duck (Anas brackyptera), the younger specimens of which only are volant. In older birds the wings become too rigid and the bodies too heavy for flight. Who that has watched a sea-mew struggling bravely with the storm, could doubt for an instant that the wings and feathers of the wings are under control ? The whole bird is an embodiment of animation and power. The intelligent active eye, the easy, graceful, oscillation of the head and neck, the folding or partial folding of one or both wings, nay more, the slight tremor or quiver of the individual feathers of parts of the wings so rapid, that only an experienced eye can detect it, all confirm the belief that the living wing has not only the power of directing, controlling, and utilizing natural currents, but of creating and utilizing artificial ones. But for this power, what would enable the bat and bird to rise and fly in a calm, or steer their course in a gale ? It is erroneous to suppose that anything is left to chance where living organisms are concerned, or that animals endowed with volition and travelling surfaces should be denied the privilege of controlling the movements of those surfaces quite independently of the medium on which they are destined to operate. I will never forget the gratification afforded me on one occasion at Carlow (Ireland) by the flight of a pair of magnificent swans. The birds flew towards and past me, my attention having been roused by a peculiarly loud whistling noise made by their wings. They flew about fifteen yards from the ground, and as their pinions were urged not much faster than those of the heron, I had abundant leisure for studying their movements. The sight was very imposing, and as novel as it was grand. I had seen nothing before, and certainly have seen nothing since that could convey a more elevated conception of the prowess and guiding power which birds may exert. What particularly struck me was the perfect command they seemed to have over themselves and the medium they navigated. They had their wings and bodies visibly under control, and the air was attacked in a manner and with an energy which left little doubt in my mind that it played quite a subordinate part in the great problem before me. The necks of the birds were stretched out, and their bodies to a great extent rigid. They advanced with a steady, stately motion, and swept past with a vigour and force which greatly impressed, and to a certain extent overawed, me. Their flight was what one could imagine that of a flying machine constructed in accordance with natural laws would be.2
The Natural Wing, when elevated and depressed, must move forwards.—It is a condition of natural wings, and of artificial wings constructed on the principle of living wings, that when
! I have frequently timed the beats of the wings of the Common Heron (Ardea cinerea) in a heronry at Warren Point. In March 1869 I was placed under unusually favourable circumstances for obtaining trustworthy results. I timed one bird high up over a lake in the vicinity of the heronry for fifty seconds, and found that in that period it made fifty down and fifty up strokes ; i.e. one down and one up stroke per second. I timed another one in the heronry itself. It was snowing at the time (March 1869), but the birds, notwithstanding the inclemency of the weather and the early time of the year, were actively engaged in hatching, and required to be driven from their nests on the top of the larch trees by knocking against the trunks thereof with large sticks. One unusually anxious mother refused to leave the immediate neighbourhood of the tree containing her tender charge, and circled round and round it right overhead. I timed this bird for ten seconds, and found that she made ten down and ten up strokes ; i.e. one down and one up stroke per second precisely as before. I have therefore no hesitation in affirming that the heron, in ordinary fight, makes exactly sixty down and sixty up strokes per minute. The heron, however, like all other birds when pursued or agitated, has the power of greatly augmenting the nuinber of beats made by its wings.
2 The above observation was made at Carlow on the Barrow in October 1367, and the account of it is taken from my note-book.