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The San Francisco call. [volume] (San Francisco [Calif.]) 1895-1913, November 13, 1910, Image 6

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members of the Pralrlevllle
aero <Jlub were discussing recent
fcata of aerial high flying. Jim
Spencer, who hod reason to feel proud
of his beautiful Blerlot model Silver
Klhhli, loudly boasted that she could
fly higher thnn any other airship owned
by the club.
Prank Williams promptly disputed
Jim's assertion, and after some hot ar
gument a brand new idea took form, aa
several other members felt that their
fliers could sail every bit as- high as
cither Frank's- Wright moild Comet or
Jim's Silver Plash.
Frank proposed tC*construct a sort of
aerial high hurdle, with a crossbar that
could be raised to varieus. heights, tho
airship flying over the highest mark
set to be the winner. The other.mem
bers were quick to see the originality
.of ''Frank's scheme, but didn't under-*
stand; just' how ho intended to carry it
out. It was-or.e thing to. prepare for
a, high jumping, hurdle where the bar
wasn't more than a few feet high and
quite another undertaking to build one
on the lines Frank proposed.
"It can bo done 'easily enough," Ex
plained Frank to his puzzled listeners.
"But what about the lumber? Won't
that cost a great deal?" objected Jinn
'•Who said anything about' lumber?"
laughed Frank. "As for the cost, I
should judge a dollar would cover the
whole expense. "What lumber is neces
sary would cost about a, dime." *
"Stop fooling— -talk sense!" snapped
Jim,; nettled at Frank's reply.
. ."'.';. "I am," grinned Frank; "and now I'll
tell \u25a0 you ? how 'I'm going to do it with
nothing. but two big kites." :
Jim looked foolish when Frank . ex
plained how simple; it all was." Two
large kites of equal size were to be sent
; up at "the same time .and so close to
gether that the kite "cords would bo
within 25 feel of eao.h; other. :
Thus a horizontal "aerial crossbar".,
in the shape' of a stout cord would be
stretched from kite; cord to kite cord
and raised or, lowered to any height -by
simultaneously; letting: out or winding
in. the two kite cords. .; '^
"But how are you going to measure
the exact height: of the crossbar when,
the supporting, cords are on a slant?"
asked Tom , Kennedy. 5"
"That will be'done by tying a loose
string so it hangs from v the- center of
the crosscord. The loose string will
be .knotted at every' foot length and
will be weighted ,by a -detachable
weight to make it plumb. Thus, when,
you want to set a .new height detach
the lead plumb and let out 1 the two
kite cords.
:.;"This r means that the loose measure
ing string must riso along with; the
paying! out of. the kite cords. You can
gauge the rise fairly..; well I by. counting
the knots: in' the: measuring'string as it
rises, . but to -get- the ; exact length ad
just .the- plumb, line to tho measuring
stririg.at a point so it: will just graze
the .ground; ani|, yet keep • the line
straight. -Then "count your knots, and
their total equals "the height In', feet!"
finished; Frank; learnedly. .
It-wasonly a matter of ;a day.' or two
before all preparations were completed
for the great high -fliers' contest, as it
was, advertised . to the juvenile world.
The* grand event took 1 place in that
scene of so .many v of ' •Prairlevllle's
aerial ; ! trlumphs, v ,Williams' Aerodrome,
before a large crowd. Two beautiful
kites ' rode proudly together, tugging,
upon. the taut cords, that bound ,them
to the earth and ran in two graceful
•parallel lines up- Into the sky. One;
kite had the name of. that great avi
ator, "Curtiss," blazoned on its scarlet
surface ; in gold.* letters, while the?
"Wright Brothers" kept -it splendid
company. In/silver ami blue. Small
American flags formed, the long kite
tails. A fair breeze gave just enough
resistance to keep the. kites steady,
while not: hindering, 'the progress of
the competing 'airships. , ;
The rules of the contest were very
simple. The lowest aerial hurdle was
to. b0. 20 feet; thenco on the crosscord
was to rise 10 feet at a time up to 50
feet, 6 feet at a time from 50 to 70
feet and 1 foot thenco 6n upward. Each
competitor had three trials. If suc
cessful his airship was eligible to com
pote in the next rise; if .unsuccessful he
dropped out. Thus the result would be
determined by "the natural process of
elimination," to quote Frank's scien
tific explanation.
Every member of tho Aero club en
tered for tho contest. The only regret
that might be fait over the affair was
the absence of any prize. The club
happened to be rather short of funds
at the "time, and while some riiembers,
particularly Jim Spencer, wanted to
devote the $4.95 in the treasury to ','tha
.purchase of a suitable prize," Frank
and tho majority disapproved of < this
Idea, .especially after Jim insisted on
miming tha prize.
Jim was so sure of winning that he
had picked out a pretty little watch as
tho prlase and strenuously advocated Jts
being purchased at the club meeting,
which was, as Frank put It, "not par
liamentary," to say tho least. So the
question of the pris» was voted down.
Frank, as president of the club, In
augurated the contest at 2 p. m. sharp.
First, the kite cord* were paid out suf
ficiently to raise tho aerial crotssbur or
crosscord to a height that plumbed ex
actly 20 feat by the knotted measuring
line. . ' *
The assembled airships made a brave
showing as their proud owners lined up
with them for- the flrst -trial. Their
navigators were permitted to stand in
any position. There were only two re
quirements necessary— the aero must
fly between tha: two supporting' kite
cords above the crosscord and it
must clear the crosscord. If the aero
fouled the crosscord it was not
counted as a perfect -trial, ;but earned
the aviator an extra "flight. Naturally,
all the machines entered were of the
aeroplane or "heavier, than air" class,
as the smallest balloon, or "lighter than
air" craft, may fly 1,000 feet high.
"Crack!" The beautiful Silver' Flash
flew out of Jim Spencer's upraised arms
at the sound of Frank's cap pistol.
The 20 foot hurdle was a mere nothing,
for she cleared the crosscord by fully
15 j feet more and settled gracefully ' to
earth, while the crowd applauded.: ..',
' Of the 12 entries, all but- three suc
ceeded in flying over and qualifying for
the next height. This left nine com
petitors for the 30 foot hurdle.
Even the first Increase was enough
to dash* the hopes of those who had set
such store on the performanca of the
Fleetwing, the C. • X... Hamilton, the
Wayup and the Blackbird. So when
the next rise, to the 40 foot height, was
Draw upon the map a strip 40 miles
by 400 miles linking Boston and Wash
ington and there will* He within the
pencil marks a region comprising the
communities of most rapid growth in
eight states and tho District of Co
This metropolitan- strip of greatest
population contains, in an area only a
third that of Now York state/ nearly
15,000,000 people ,By 1920 It will prob
ably contain more than 20,000,000. It
Includes Providence, Hartford, New Ha
ven, Newark, tho thriving New Jersey
and Westchester suburbs, Trenton, Phil
adelphia and Wilmington. Now York
is almost its oxuet geographical center.
Franco hns no area of dense settle
ment to compare witli this. Nor have
Belgium and Holland combined. Iv der
tnany the Huenlsh mining and manu
facturing region la growing as rapidly,
but is yet far behind. Provinces In
China aro said to have a population
half «s dense, but no one knows. Only
England for a few years will have a
sone of greater population. A broader,
shorter strip connecting I^ondon with
Manchester and Liverpool has now some
18,000,000 souls.
All these human lives of the old world
are inland. Those of China are agri
cultural. Tliut of Germany has Its out
to be flown only five of the' original 12
starters remained. '-."C
The Hubert Latham and the Sklhlgh
fell out of the contest at this point,
leaving Just three fliers to compete for
the 50 foot height. They were Jim
Spencer's Sliver Flash, Tom Kennedy s
Upthere— a fine Curtiss model — and
Frank Williams' Cornet.^
It was anybody's race for the "high
est honors," as a wit in the crowd said.
The onlookers showed intense interest
as Jim Spencer launched the Silver
Flash for the 55 foot rise and cheered
when she cleared It easily., The Comet
had no difficulty in repeating her rival's
flight, but Tom Kennedy had the 141
luck to wind up his rubber band pro
pellers too tightly, .and one snapped.
Although time was allowed for repairs,
Tom:couldn't reg"ain the Upthere's old
form, and his three trials fell short,
leaving but two qualified for the next
rise. * .
So thus it happened that Frank and
his greatest rival had to fight It out.
Jn the meantime something else was
happening in the air. Frank had no
ticed a. few rather dark looking clouds
hanging low on tho far prairie horizon
when the contest started. These clouds
had expanded until they, stretched
across the whole northern sky, and it
didn't take an-experienced eye to tell
that a storm was brewing.
"Come on, now, let's get this over
lets by the Rhine and by canals. That
of England has two great ports. The
American belt has a dozen, ranging
from mere Bplendid possibilities to Bos
ton, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Now
York. It is tied together from end to
end' by steamers, railways and trolley
routes. Unlike its rivals, it includes
many miles of beautiful beaches, with
forests, splendid scenery and other pro
visions for play as well as work. Its
educational provision is unequaled. It
is a little corner of the great earth's
surface, but as the certain future home
of the vastest and most prosperous pop
ulation to be brought together any
where on earth It Is a census wonder
land worth watching — New York World.
World's Largest Room
Tha largest room in the world under
a single roof and unbroken by pillars
of any sort is In St. Petersburg. It Is
620 feet In length and 150 feet wide.
By daylight. the room is uaed for mili
tary displays, and a whole battalion
can maneuver Jn It with ease. By night
20,^00 wax tapers give It a beautiful
appearance. The roof i.j a blngle arch
of iron, and the architecture is con
*>ider*Mi one of the wonderu of the
before tho storm hits us!" exclaimed
Frank, who then proceoded to fly tho
Comet over tho 60 foot rise. She
cleared it by several feet. Jim's first
attempt missed the crosscord by four
foot. His next try was even poorer,
and then he procoeded carefully to ad
just every part of tho Silver Flash. Tho
resulting flight Just fouled tho crosn
cord, and, being allowed a fourth at
tempt under the rules', Jim finally suc
ceeded in just sailing over the cross
cord. It was so close, though, that
opinion was equally divided as to
whether the aero really touched the
cord with one of her planes as sho
tipped to one side. Frank said, "Give
him the benefit of the doubt," and Just
then tho storm broke, leaving the con
test a draw. For one of the blj- kites
swept away In the wind, thus wrecking
the aerial hurdles.
Everybody scurried under cover,
while the Aero club rushed for its
clubhouse, at the corner of the aero
drome. Jim made things unpleasant
during the short rain by boasting more
loudly tlmn ever of how he would have
won if the storm hadn't come up.
Frank, did not retort, but Jim's conduct
started him thinking, and when the
squall had passed by, half an hour
later, and the sun shone again he
turned suddenly to Jim and said:
"Now, I'm going to give you a chance
to prove all your statements right oft.
Don't ask me how, but if you're 'game'
you'll come with me!" Jim couldn't
exactly back out in the face of the
crowd, who jeered him when he tried
to make Frank 'reveal his mysterious
plan. For the others were as heartily
tired-of Jim's boasting as was Frank.
So, telling^Jim to brink his aero, Frank
picked up his own machine and, ac
companied' by -the rest, proceeded —
straight into Pralrieville! v
He marched over to Main street and
down it "until he reached the business
section. There he stopped before the
two highest buildings in town.
"Can't you guess what I'm going to
do?" laughed ' Frank. The crowd looked
puzzled, while Jim protested against
"this long tramp for nothing.",
"It isn't for nothing that my uncle's
law office is on the sixth floor of the
Belvidere block!" cried Frank, point
ing to that noble example of Main
street architecture, "and I guess we
won't find much trouble In getting the
man ' ln the opposite office to let us'set
up our hurdle either!" concluded Frank,
and then. they saw his now scheme, for
directly .opposite the. Merchants' ex
change reared its imposing front fully
seven stories high.
Frank' left his - escort downstairs
while he briefly- explained' to his uncle
what he wished to do. The old gen
tleman entered delightedly Into the
plan, and even wrote a note to the
.neighboring tenant in the opposite of
fice, whom he^knew, . s
Frank had left Instructions for- the
boys. below to be on the watch for him
at his uncle's window. "He opened it,
tied one end of the ball of twine he
carried to a chair and, leaning out,
shouted to Jim Spencer to catch, the
twine. The ball unrolled as it. fell. and
Frank's work on this side .of the "hur
dle" was done,'
He now descended, rejoined the boys,
gave them a few instructions and then
presented his note to the other man in
the' Merchants'- exchange opposite, who
good humoredly acceded to Frank's re
The street was much too wide to tos3
the unraveling twine, across it accu
rately, so Frank leaned out of the win
dow and dropped, atiecond ball of twine
to the boys bolow, after first securing
it' to a chair. The end of the first ball
dropped on the other side, was spliced
to the end of the . new ball; Frank
pulled it up, hauled the string taut and
the new "aerial crossbar," or, rather,
crosscord, stretching horizontally from
wlldow to window, was ready for busi
ness. Only one thing now romained to
do — that was to plumb the exact height.
Frank had remembered to bring the
plumb line and the figures from tho
street pavement to tho window ledge
showed 74 feet.
By this time a crowd had begun to
collect, all of which lather gratified
Frank's "P. T. Barnum" Instincts, as ho
jeered at Jim:
"Now right here is where you either
win tho contest or where you swallow
your word 3 after wo made It a .draw
this afternoon. We'll toss a penny to
see who flies first — same condition as in
tho other trials."
Frank won the toss and elected to let
Jim fly first. Perhaps this extract from
the next morning's PruirievlUe Clarion
will tell the result best:
"Main street was blocked for 10 min
utes yesterday afternoon when the
great high fliers* contest pulled off its
final event" — (Here followed a short
description of the contests) — "Jim
Spencer made three unsuccessful ef
forts with the Silver Flash. Frank
Williams' Comet, a wonderfully well
constructed Wright model, succeeded on
her first trial."
"And succeeded on the strength
of Jim's bragging!" added Frank to
himself with a chuckle as he reud it.
"Just because Jim couldn't be happy
with a draw he had to keep on with his
boasting, and that Bet me thinking up
the new stunt. If ever a chap defeated
himself out of Ills owu mouih Jim
Spencer di'J! "

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