Popular Science magazine predicted in October 1928 that airships, “even more than airplanes,” would carry man into the skies. Dirigibles, after all, spent none of their power lifting themselves, unlikely airplanes, which spent more than half their energy at the time to just keep in the air.
Moreover, surprising as it may seem, every increase in the size of airships increases also their operating efficiency; that is, less horsepower is required for each passenger. In airplanes, on the other hand, increase in size decreases relative efficiency.
Little wonder Popular Science was so confident although it did not predict the airplane’s demise altogether. “The two modes of travel are adapted to purposes as different as the principles that govern their operation,” it argued.
The frenzied director of large business enterprises, the impatient lover, the individual racing with death to the bedside of a relatively will use, of course, the unrivaled speed of an airplane.
But the magazine had clearly lost interest in the winged machine. “Today,” it concluded, “graceful whales of the airy ocean loom overhead to thrill us.”
Sadly, they would become a little too thrilling not so many years later.
Back in the 1920s, the notion that one could fly across the Atlantic in under twenty-four hours seemed incredible. Hence Popular Science‘s delight when the magazine could report in September 1925 that French aircraft designer and manufacturer Louis Charles Breguet was working on a giant transatlantic plane that would carry passengers from New York to Paris “at a cost less than present passage on large steamships!”
The machine was supposed to be composed of twin bodies and capable of taking off from either land or water. Eight motors should have provided up to 5000 horsepower.
As you look at the artist’s fascinating picture you can imagine yourself boarding the big ship at a New York flying-field, some morning in the near future, soaring out over the sea, plunging through the sky at terrific speed for a day and a night above the vast expanse of ocean, and finally arriving in Paris bright and early on the following morning.
Alas, Breguet’s contraption was never build but glorious it would have been!