THROUGH THE CLOUDS
The arrival at Rio de Janeiro of Lieutenant Hinton of NC-4 and runaway balloon fame, in the flying ship Sampaio Correia II calls attention to another air achievement which will help to restore popular confidence in the commercial possibilities of long distance flying. The flight of the Sampaio Correia over the five and a half thousand miles between Pensacola and the capital of Brazil was accomplished in little over a hundred hours in the air.
Feature accidents, the break-down of the Sampaio Correia I on its way to Florida, and the disasters frequently occurring in "stunt" flying, have almost completely obscured the permanent progress steadily going on in the control of the air. The report of the United States Air Mail Service last June showed a record of over ninety per cent scheduled trips finished, with a lower accident average than any other branch of transportation. Only a day or so ago the story came of a plane carrying a doctor two hundred and fifty miles to an island in Lake Michigan to save a man's life. In Mesopotamia aeroplanes are being used systematically by the British for the collection of taxes. This last is perhaps not an evidence of progress, for it is reported on Kemalist authority that the good work has consisted in the bombing of villages to enforce payment and that five British machines have been brought down by the natives.
Whether this report is unsubstantiated or not, the use of airplanes in this district emphasizes once more the commercial importance of flying as a practical means not only of travelling very quickly, but of getting to otherwise inaccessible places.
The aeroplane, to be sure, has got beyond the point where it needs to be defended. But its full value today and the important part in the business of the world which it has assumed already,--not in a far-distant, visionary future,--are very little realized. Amundsen has not yet flown to the North Pole, and aviators are forbidden by the law to shoot ducks in New Jersey. These are spectacular news items; but in a matter-of-fact, inconspicuous way "Langley's Folly" is justifying its existence a hundred times over.